More LHC Predictions

Roger Highfield has gone out and asked several theorists for LHC predictions, with the following results.

About supersymmetry:

  • Arkani-Hamed

    My hunch is that there’s a better than evens chance that supersymmetry will show up at the LHC…

  • Veltman

    I would be surprised if supersymmetry were found. I supported the idea when it was first suggested, but I’ve gradually lost confidence in it, though I might well be wrong. To be sure, if the LHC finds nothing to support supersymmetry, its advocates will just make excuses and keep using it. As for string theory, it’s all mumbo jumbo, with no connection with experiment.

  • Silverstein

    Some of my intuition comes from string theory, an appealing candidate for a theory of all the forces of nature. According to many – perhaps most – versions of string theory, supersymmetry does not hold good at the energies probed by the LHC, so its discovery might require further explanation from this point of view.

    (it appears that the excuses Veltman is predicting are already in place…)

  • Llewellyn-Smith

    …(with 60% probability) supersymmetry…

  • Lisi

    Many physicists also think it likely that evidence will be found for supersymmetry, strings, or new dimensions — but I disagree.

  • About the Higgs:

  • Arkani-Hamed

    I’ve already bet a year’s salary they will find the Higgs particle.

  • (anyone know who took the other side of that bet?)

  • Veltman

    It would not surprise me if the experimenters don’t find the Higgs particle. I don’t trust the theory behind it. But if it does appear to show up, it will be crucial to check that it behaves as the theory predicts.

  • Silverstein

    I’d be extremely puzzled if they don’t find the Higgs…

  • Llewellyn-Smith

    My hunch is that a Higgs boson will be found (95% probability)…

  • Lisi

    The most likely result from the LHC is detection of a single Higgs particle.

  • John March-Russell goes all-out:

    …our quest for a source of almost unlimited climate-friendly energy might be answered by the creation of exotic unstable, but long-lived, charged particles… It might also turn out that the number of space and time dimensions is ambiguous…

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    24 Responses to More LHC Predictions

    1. Sumar Ongi says:

      Taking just a superficial look at SUSY GUTs, their particle spectrum, and the SUSY desert, what comes to mind is that if Nature is that clumsy it may well not be worth studying.

    2. D R Lunsford says:

      I predict no single Higgs – if any it will be composite and technicolor will be revived.


    3. Fran says:

      Re: Veltman on Higgs: Since when was there doubt on the theoretical existance of the Higgs (I know there’s doubt in its mass)? I thought it was pretty much a dead cert, as the rest of the Standard Model needs it in order to be correct/have mass?

    4. Peter Woit says:


      What’s certain is that something is breaking electroweak gauge symmetry. It’s not at all certain that it’s an elementary scalar field.

    5. Chris Oakley says:

      These exotic particles for catalysing fusion, which apparently do not need absurdly high temperatures to be produced, but appear to still require a Large Hadron Collider. How is one better off? Is Elvis is going to appear from the 6 1/2th dimension to show us what to do?

    6. James Robson says:


      I, for one, am skeptical about seeing the Elvis Particle at the LHC – at least within the first 5 or so years beore upgrades to the luminosity and are made.

      As is well known, the EP is expected to increase in mass and strangeness during its lifetime, which poses detection problems. Also, its influence on neighbouring particles is suspected to induce an “impersonation” interaction, which will make detection of the genuine article even more difficult.

      Still, its pehaps more likely than some of the other suff mentioned.

    7. Mitch Miller says:

      Is Arkani-Hamed’s statement supposed to be literal? I thought maybe he meant that he has already invested so much into the idea in terms of time and effort, but maybe not.

    8. Peter Woit says:


      He was quoted elsewhere saying he was willing to bet a year’s salary on this, but I hadn’t heard that anyone had taken him up on this. Perhaps this is just a misquote.

    9. db says:

      I’m no particle theorist, but I am willing to bet £50 (ukp) that the next generation of accelerator will be plagued by exactly the same doom criers as the LHC.

      Furthermore, I bet 50p that anyone else with* BSc physics could come to the same conclusion.

      *or without.

    10. “Nature is predictably UNPREDICTABLE”

      I am always amazed at “betting” amongst physicists, after all it is a “hard science”. Look at planetary exploration in our localized domain (solar system, an inconspicuous thing in a inconspicuous part of the Milky Way, itself an inconspicuous galaxy, etc):

      – wild volcanoes on Io
      – unusual geology on moons of Jupiter & Saturn
      – Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9
      indicates the solar system is way more dynamic than originally thought (chance of extra-terrestial hits is not insignificant)
      – now the TNO (Trans Neptunian Objects), Kuiper Belt Objects, etc
      Michael Brown/Caltech’s numerous discoveries of objects beyond Pluto

      All the above “data points” were totally unexpected & beyond predictability..”it is what it is”. The whole idea of cosmological predictions from such localized data is absurd!

      “I’m locally pessimistic, but globally optimistic”
      — Dr. Jordan Pollack, Brandeis Univ/CS Dept

      Their “global optimism” is overstating the reality of the data..way too localized.

      It’s beyond the wildest imagination of a science-fiction author (after copious amounts of alchohol). “The universe is WEIRDER than you can imagine”. I guarantee you, that the results will be surprising & suggest new questions (this always seems to be the case, unwrapping the successive “shells” of information seem to go on endlessly)

      LHC is breaking into new energy domains, so expect new data points.

      “In order to Push the Limits, sometimes you have to EXCEED THE LIMITS”
      — Formula 1 Australian GP (2003)

      LHC is pushing the limits, & like a Formula 1 race car (aka “knife edge car”..very unstable), it will be at the performance envelope of Technology/Science. Should be interesting!

      “May you live in Interesting Times”
      — Chinese proverb

    11. mitchell porter says:

      I once mailed Arkani-Hamed to ask if he was serious about betting a year’s salary, because I might be interested to take him up, but I wanted to know the details. No reply.

    12. Chris Oakley says:


      I was making a serious point. Physicists used to be taken seriously because people knew that if they did not give us what we wanted, we might just destroy the planet. But if senior physicists start bullsh*tting on about metastable particles that will solve all our energy problems then we will eventually just be regarded as a bunch of delusional, harmless hippies, no longer deserving of respect or fear. This could only harm funding prospects.

    13. Haelfix says:

      Umm its a pretty damn good bet to wager a years salary on the detection of the Higgs (suitably phrased to allow for instance a doublet or somesuch). The scenarios where you would not see it (after a suitable time), are ugly and contrived and it really is an essential ensemble of probably the best tested theory in all of physics history. Its as close to a sure thing as anything in physics.

    14. David B. says:


      The history of these `exotic particles’ goes back to the days where nuclear physicists were studying muon catalized fusion. In principle, if you have a muon factory, you can use it to produce energy. A single muon could produce about 200 such reactions of combining deuterons into helium . The process would be stopped because there is a finite probability of capture of the muon by one of the helium atoms produced. After that happens, there is no time to recover the muon, since the muon decays. You are jut short of breaking even in terms of the energy cost to producing a muon, and the energy you extract from fusion.

      The reason that scenario has been put forward is because surprises happen in physics and that is one that has not been ruled out experimentally, yet. If it is there, however unlikely that is, wouldn’t you want to know?

      I also object to your mischaracterization of physicists being funded because if they didn’t give us what we wanted we would blow up the planet. The physicists did not hold the world hostage at any point. Technological applications for war purposes were a big deal during the cold war, that is why physics got such huge support: we could build the most destructive devices of all. Physicists were not feared. As a matter of fact, fear of technology is one of the most dangerous trends that can run against physics funding. All this hoopla about the LHC destroying the earth suggests that it will only get worse from now on, not better.

    15. DB says:

      Hawking is on record as betting against the discovery of the Higgs Boson, although he hasn’t exactly gone out on a limb – his bet is $100.

    16. James Robson says:


      As you said, you were trying to make a serious point, and I respect that, and quite clearly I wasn’t, so my apologies there if required. However, in a faint echo of David B’s comment – do you really aspire to be “feared” by the general public for being a physicist?

      I think you should have chosen dentistry 🙂

      (Should have a smiley with teeth!)

    17. mike says:

      Is there a good upper limit for the Higgs boson mass? It’s disconcerting that without strong upper limits we will continue to search for something that might be a dead-end. I do think what we will see will hint at the existence of some scalar field, but it’s characteristics might be much simpler than we think.

    18. bpz says:

      “Is there a good upper limit for the Higgs boson mass?”
      In the MSSM it’s about 200 GeV, in the pure SM it’s about 800 Gev.

    19. Jimbo says:

      If you visit the link in my comment, you will find the number you seek. It is the 95%CL upper bound established by the Tevatron last Aug, of 144 Gev:

    20. Peter Woit says:


      There are two kinds of upper limits on Higgs masses:

      1. In the SM, the Higgs mass is determined by the Higgs field self-coupling. To increase the mass, you have to increase this coupling constant, and beyond a certain point, there is no reason to trust perturbation theory. This is in conflict with the fact that the predictions of perturbation theory work very well.

      2. Precision electroweak measurements provide indirect constraints on the Higgs mass, because it appears in the higher-loop theoretical predictions.

    21. Ellipsis says:

      Here’s a prediction from last year that came true precisely (delay of two months beyond the at-that-time July scheduled start date):

      So, I’ll make a few more predictions:

      3-sigma Higgs announced on July 28, 2010 simultaneously by CDF/D0 combination and by a shotgun combination of ATLAS and CMS data requested/required by CERN management.

      Anomalies from ATLAS and CMS also announced in 2010, 2011, 2012 — all of them different and eliminated / made less significant by the following year’s data (anomalies within the collaborations will fly continually, but 2010 will be the first year they are “vetted” and get through to public announcement, but still wrong).

      First real anomaly that sticks will occur in 2013. This one will be a real one. There will be much heated debate as to whether it is from SUSY or not. The answer to that question will not be clear all the way until 2017.

      Unlike Nima, Tommaso, Gordy Kane, etc., etc., I don’t gamble, though, so no money.

    22. Peter Woit says:

      Thanks Ellipsis,

      Your predictions look much more plausible to me than just about any others I’ve seen. Now, all you have to do is tell us what the 2010 Higgs mass will be….

    23. Ellipsis says:

      115.5 GeV

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