According to the Harvard Gazette, it seems that string theory predicts a very distinctive experimental signature that should be easily observable at the LHC. The claim is that string theory predicts that the LHC should produce stau particles, with a lifetime of a minute or so. I’m no experimentalist, but I’d think a charged particle with no strong interactions, a mass of many hundreds of GeV, and long-lived enough to go all the way through the detector, should stick out like a sore thumb. This might be the kind of thing you only need one of to claim discovery of a new particle, and could even be expected to show up very early after the LHC is turned on.
So, at least if you believe the Harvard Gazette, we may be only a few weeks away from having an experimental result that will settle the string theory question once and for all. Either Vafa and collaborators will be getting the 2010 (or 2011 at the worst) Nobel prize, or string theory’s prediction will have been wrong and we can say goodbye to the theory for good. Next year should be exciting…
Update: Some commenters were pessimistic that the first year LHC would produce these supposed staus at an observable rate. If I read this presentation correctly (page 54), only 40 inverse pb are needed to produce 3 events of a 200Gev stau. Maybe this model will get verified or killed during 2010. From the same conference, see Michael Peskin’s summary talk for more about what the LHC might see in 2010.
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