News site TechEye is reporting that String theory might be about to finally be killed off, with a story that starts off
The world’s top boffins are debating finally killing off one of the more elegant scientific theories about the nature of reality.
This isn’t exactly the most reliable information source, with one problem that the story is about supersymmetry, with the only connection to string theory this:
For ages the world’s cleverest physicists have been divided over the concept of supersymmetry – a theory which stipulates that all known fundamental particles have heavier, supersymmetric counterparts called sparticles. It appears to be based on the theory that the universe is made out of string which was teased into shape by cats which are potentially dead or alive [are you sure about this? Ed.]
The writer seems to have gotten the material for the story from a more reliable source, the Economist, which recently had A bet about a cherished theory of physics may soon pay out. That story starts by explaining about Ken Lane’s 1994 bet with David Gross that the LHC would not see supersymmetry. As mentioned here, this year’s data should be enough to resolve the question they were betting about. It is likely that results from SUSY searches using most of this year’s data will be presented at the usual mid-December LHC Jamboree at CERN, and unless there’s dramatic news my sources are keeping from me, these results will be negative.
The bet was for an expensive dinner at Girardet’s, a three-star Swiss restaurant which has now closed, and
Dr Lane says it is time for Dr Gross (who won the Nobel prize in 2004) to cough up—if not with dinner at Girardet’s then at another suitably ritzy venue. After receiving no response to several e-mail prompts, however, Dr Lane is growing impatient. “David appears to be welshing [misuse of language, see here] on our bet,” he says.
Dr Gross is not ready to concede quite yet. The data are in, but their analysis is not complete. “It looks like I will lose this bet by the end of the year,” he says, “but we should await the word from the experimenters themselves.” (Dr Lane says the original terms have been met and Dr Gross should throw in the towel.)
As for whether this really kills off SUSY, there’s a pithy quote from Sabine Hossenfelder:
Sabine Hossenfelder, a theoretical physicist at the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies, is one of many who think it is time for theorists to focus on other problems—how gravity behaves at the very small scales of quantum mechanics, for instance. If the LHC finds no trace of sparticles in this year’s data, she believes the last thing the field needs is another round of Susy model adjustments. “That’s not science,” she says. “That’s pathetic.”