Now that the plan for running the LHC over the next few years is in place, one can start to get an idea of what new physics might emerge from it between now and 2013. For the question of the Higgs, Tommaso Dorigo does some analysis here, going back to 1999 Tevatron projections to see how reliable they were. He concludes that the 1999 projections were accurate for the mass range above 135 Gev. Below that, they depended on assuming a silicon detector upgrade that never was funded. His bottom line is that he sees the Tevatron as ultimately able to rule out the Higgs at 95% confidence level over the entire relevant mass range, but unable to come up with convincing evidence of its existence if it is in the lower part of this mass range. For this, the LHC will be required, but this will have to be after the move to higher energy in 2013:
The LHC experiments will be unable, in my opinion, to make up in two years of data taking, and with the 3.5 times larger energy, for the 8-year advantage in running time of the Tevatron. The Higgs boson will be unlikely to be discovered before 2013, and it will probably be a sole LHC business; however, until then the Tevatron will retain the better results as far as the mass exclusion range is concerned.
Operating on a different reality plane is Michio Kaku:
“We’re beginning to test string theory with the large Hadron collider outside Geneva, Switzerland, costing ten billion euros, the most expensive machine that science ever created. That’s what I do for a living,” said Kaku in a recent conference call interview from New York.
NPR has recently started up a project called 13:7 Cosmos and Culture. It’s a blog “set at the intersection of science and culture.” Unfortunately, NPR’s conception of the intersection of physics and culture is occupied by Stuart Kauffman, who has a series of posts arguing that the physical universe cannot be described by physical laws (see here and here). In the most recent one, Kauffman takes up the complicated subject of decoherence and the emergence of classical behavior in quantum systems, and claims to have (inspired by Karl Popper) an argument based on special relativity showing that decoherence cannot be described by any fundamental law of physics. This is supposedly experimentally testable:
As it happens these ideas may have testable consequences, for they should be more marked as the relative velocities of the event A and one or two receding detectors increase toward the speed of light. And, since quantum decoherence is easier if the quantum processes in the “environment” are locally abundant, they should be more visible in that case. These are testable consequences of Popper’s original idea and my use of it with credit.
I hope the experiments are done.
For more about all this, Kauffman refers to his article here from the Edge web-site, where he argues that that the brain is “quantum coherent”, and:
Reversibility of the coherent to decoherent-classical to recoherent quantum states are essential to my hypothesis for I wish the brain to be undergoing such reversible transformations all the time.
He gets around problems with time-scales by noting that:
The time scale of neural activities is a million times slower, in the millisecond range. But it takes light on the order of a millisecond to cross the brain, so if there were a dispersed quantum decohering-recohering mind-brain, reaching the millisecond range is probably within grasp of a quantum theory of the mind-brain system.
I suppose it is true that it might take light a millisecond to cross one’s brain, if one’s brain were about 200 miles across…
Normally I don’t think I can ethically post gossip about mathematician’s love lives here, but once it has already appeared in the media…
Some ex-colleagues from here at Columbia are among those launching the Journal of Unpublishable Mathematics. From what I hear, they haven’t yet published anything, but have had nominations.
Last week the algebraic geometer Eckart Viehweg passed away at the age of 61. His wife Helene Esnault is also an algebraic geometer, and recently posted an article on the arXiv based on joint work, with a heart-breaking abstract.