The first attempt to circulate a beam in the LHC is still set for next Wednesday, and the media is already full of LHC stories, with a lot more to come next week. Events are being organized all over the world to celebrate the day, including a 1:30 am pajama party at Fermilab (see here). Today’s Wall Street Journal carries a page one story about preparations at CERN that focus on improvisational comedy training for physicists to help them communicate.
For more serious news from the LHC, you can try following progress at CERN’s startup site for the public, or at the technical LHC commissioning site. Latest available minutes from the Installation and Commissioning Committee are here, including a timeline and objectives for the next few days and for September 10. The “also going on” column for September 10 lists just “chaos”.
Science magazine has some excellent LHC-related stories in this week’s issue. In this one, various people explain what the LHC is looking for and why it will take a while to get results. Gordy Kane is having none of that though, predicting discovery of supersymmetry next month:
“We predict a signature that they could see with five events,” says Michigan’s Kane. “They could see it in the first week of running in October.”
Another article, Researchers, Place Your Bets!, features bloggers Tommaso Dorigo and Jacques Distler. Tommaso has bet that the LHC will see no deviations from the standard model, although from what I remember, he did this just because if this happens it will be so depressing that at least some cash will cheer him up. Gordy Kane and Stuart Raby claim supersymmetry is such a sure thing that they can’t find anyone who will bet against it. Distler’s comment on this is:
I wonder how hard they tried.
The same article gives links to sites where you can bet on the Higgs boson discovery date.
Nature magazine is running an LHC-related editorial Cool Philosophies in this week’s issue. It is inspired by an interesting recent preprint by philosopher of science Alexei Grinbaum: On the eve of the LHC: conceptual questions in high-energy physics. Grinbaum gives an extensive discussion of the current state of particle theory and its societal context. He ends with a philosophical section on fine-tuning and currently popular anthropic arguments, arguing that these often invoke an invalid use of counterfactuals.