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Science

LHC Data Continues To Disagree With Supersymmetry 196

Posted by timothy
from the good-because-I'm-not-super-symmetrical dept.
decora writes "Pallab Ghosh of the BBC reports on another piece of evidence hitting the beleaguered Supersymmetry community. Scientists at the Lepton Photon conference in Mumbai, India confirmed that extra levels of B-Meson decay have not been found in the LHC beauty experiment. Coming on the heels of a March report in Nature, this news seems to reinforce what many have suspected all along. Dark Matter is probably not explainable through massive shadow particles like squarks and selectrons, and for all practical purposes, the Supersymmetric Extension of the Standard Model of Physics is dead."
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LHC Data Continues To Disagree With Supersymmetry

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  • by tyrus568 (644456) on Saturday August 27, 2011 @11:21PM (#37232148)

    So I clicked on the wikipedia link for supersymmetric extension and tried to read the first three paragraphs.

    I encountered these: "supersymmetric partners, the weak scale, the hierarchy problem, quantum corrections, a fermionic superpartner, superparticles, squarks, gluinos, neutralinos, sleptons, R-parity, explicit soft supersymmetry breaking operators, large flavor changing neutral currents and electric dipole moments."

    I always knew I wanted to be diagonal in flavor space to make the new CP violating phases vanish.

    There is something deeply disturbing in the heads of physicists...

    • There's something deeply disturbed in how nature works.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by AI0867 (868277)

        Nah, the problem is how we describe it.

        • I feel certain that if we add a few more hypothetical particles and their anti-particles, along with some new virtual particles to transmit forces between them and the rest of the particle zoo, and (at most) four new carefully tuned fudge factors^W^Wcosmological constants to make the math come out right, depending on how many extra space-like dimensions you postulate, that suddenly, miraculously, the Standard Model will become a thing of breathtakingly elegant simplicity and great descriptive and predictive
    • Every technical field has its jargon that's incomprehensible to outsiders. It doesn't mean the people who use it are crazy. Complex problems require complex descriptions; not everything can be reduced to a sound bite.

      • by 0123456 (636235) on Saturday August 27, 2011 @11:53PM (#37232270)

        Every technical field has its jargon that's incomprehensible to outsiders. It doesn't mean the people who use it are crazy. Complex problems require complex descriptions; not everything can be reduced to a sound bite.

        But particle physics in particular seems to have vanished up its own asshole in the last couple of decades Every problem seems to be solved by inventing a new particle which will show up if only we spend ten times as much on the next machine.

        • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) on Sunday August 28, 2011 @12:08AM (#37232326) Homepage Journal

          I'm not sure I see how particle physics is any worse than ... oh ... say ... software engineering in that regard. Seriously, we here on /. don't tend to notice it as much because we're immersed in it, but have you ever noticed how fast any programming-related discussion here becomes an exchange of jargon? That's because new languages, new data structures, new API's, and new toolsets are being developed all the time, and they all need names. If you're working in the field, you know what these things are; if you're not, a discussion about them might as well be a string of random alphanumeric characters on the screen. I have no doubt that to physicists, all the terms the OP was mocking make perfect sense (a lot of physicists may disagree about whether the things the terms describe actually exist, but that's a separate issue -- and again, one not unique to physics.)

          • IMHO the difference is in the expectations of the public.

            The general public listens of "Software Engineering" and thinks of complicated systems on complicated computers. So, first they are bareyly interested and even if they read the report, when they find that it gets complicated they are already expecting it. In the other hand, script kiddies are the one who are more vocal when saying "you do not need any of these complicated theories to do the work".

            With physics, there are lots of people who are unintere

          • by mangu (126918)

            have you ever noticed how fast any programming-related discussion here becomes an exchange of jargon?

            I've noticed that when someone tries to explain why Ruby is better than Python.

          • No, not really. If you're working with quantum physics and you don't have to roll a SAN check, you're not doing it right. Whereas with computer logic, once you know what the fuck everything means it makes sense. It's just that learning what everything means and holding it in relation to everything else can be difficult. Quantum physics on the other hand literally is illogical in how it works, even though we have the math to describe it some of the time.

        • This is what happens when a group of people believe infinity is a real thing.
        • by sg_oneill (159032) on Sunday August 28, 2011 @01:59AM (#37232642)

          But particle physics in particular seems to have vanished up its own asshole in the last couple of decades Every problem seems to be solved by inventing a new particle which will show up if only we spend ten times as much on the next machine

          That doesn't mean they are wrong however. As a physicist friend put it to me, "The more we study the universe the only thing we can be certain about it, is that the universe is actually very fucking wierd".

          • But particle physics in particular seems to have vanished up its own asshole in the last couple of decades Every problem seems to be solved by inventing a new particle which will show up if only we spend ten times as much on the next machine

            That doesn't mean they are wrong however. As a physicist friend put it to me, "The more we study the universe the only thing we can be certain about it, is that the universe is actually very fucking wierd".

            I woult put it better as "the more we are studying in orders of magnitude different to those to which our brains were evolved for, the more difficult is for our brain to understand the concepts involved".

          • by lennier (44736)

            >That doesn't mean they are wrong however.

            No, it doesn't mean they are wrong, but it does tingle the intuitive "beauty vs ugliness" detector, which historically seems to have had some linkage to physical reality. Theories like Newton's and Maxwell's have a simplicity and coherence to them beyond their mere physical predictions which might be just a coincidence. Or it might be a clue that somehow, 20th century physics has diverged onto a track where its foundations are not quite correct, but we're now so deeply entrenched in a model-centric world of

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          But particle physics in particular seems to have vanished up its own asshole in the last couple of decades

          But the bottom [wikipedia.org] quark was theorized in 1973...

        • by drolli (522659)

          Please join them. I am sure they will be delighted if you can, by your genius, propose simpler and cheaper tests for simpler theories which explain all previous observations - why didn't they think about this before? The answer is: they thought about it before. The amount of theories which have been proposed and already excluded is incredible.

          • You're missing the point. It's not the complexity (although inventing dimensions and pretending they exist is childish), it's the money. His pointing out that the experiments their solutions call for are ghastly in expense. This is a truth.

            The question at this juncture is, is the continued near exponential growth of the machinery worth what can be learned? Can that knowledge be put to use in a way that will recoup the billion dollar investments?

            It's a legitimate concern and the math boys need to c
      • by adamofgreyskull (640712) on Sunday August 28, 2011 @05:45AM (#37232746)
        This is an incredibly relevant [youtube.com] comedy sketch from Armstrong and Miller...

        Presenter:Science now and Britain's Einsteins are a-go-go over a new theory which is thought will revolutionise our understanding of Life, the Universe, and, pretty much, everything else. Heterotic supersymmetry is said to combine elements of String theory with a new take on...now hang on...[reading] "Quantum chromodynamics". Try saying that when you've had a few. And it's the brain-child of Professor Alan King. Er, Professor King, good morning.
        Physicist: Good morning.
        Presenter:Can you just..briefly...take us through this new theory of yours? In laymans terms.
        Physicist: No.
        Presenter:All I'm after is just a...a...a...broad stroke..explanation if you like.
        Physicist:Um...there isn't one.
        Presenter:O.k....well what if you were to..to..take us through the whole thing...starting with the real basics and just working our way up.
        Physicist:Oh! O.k...I can do that. It will take quite a long time.
        Presenter:How long?
        Physicist:11 years.
        Presenter: [finger to ear]Ok, I'm just being told we don't have quite that long. Professor, some of our viewers are quite smart...perhaps there's someone watching who's...capable of understanding your theory?
        Physicist:There isn't.
        Presenter:How can you be so sure?
        Physicist:Well, Graham's on holiday and Chung Yao's dead.
        Presenter:Professor King, thank you!
        Physicist:My pleasure.

        • by jpapon (1877296)
          Fantastic bit, thanks for that.
        • by trout007 (975317)

          Funny. I feel like that when trying to teach economics on /.

          • by ultranova (717540)

            Funny. I feel like that when trying to teach economics on /.

            Now the question remains: is that because you're Alan King, or because you're Edwin J. Goodwin [wikipedia.org]?

            For most "economics teachers" on Slashdot and elsewhere it's the latter.

      • Complex problems require complex descriptions; not everything can be reduced to a sound bite.

        Something tells me you aren't a politician.

    • by belg4mit (152620) on Saturday August 27, 2011 @11:49PM (#37232254) Homepage

      Try this then: http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supersymmetry [wikipedia.org]

    • I always knew I wanted to be diagonal in flavor space to make the new CP violating phases vanish.

      They say CP violates a phase called "childhood".

  • Sounds like it's time for another rethink then. Einstein got his insights from observing things in the real world, a lot of modern theory seems to be based on looking at Math. Maybe it's time to spend some time in the physical world again and to step away from the Platonic realm and see if something sparks some inspiration.

    I, for one, wonder what we might learn if we try to model things using integer math instead of the often rounded real numbers that seem to be popular. Of course, with the numbers being so

    • by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Saturday August 27, 2011 @11:41PM (#37232224) Homepage

      Sounds like it's time for another rethink then. Einstein got his insights from observing things in the real world, a lot of modern theory seems to be based on looking at Math. Maybe it's time to spend some time in the physical world again and to step away from the Platonic realm and see if something sparks some inspiration.

      First of all, Einstein was famous for doing very clever thought experiments. Many of his ideas about special relativity came from thinking about how objects should behave if they tried to chase light. Second, the ideas of supersymmetry in fact come from inspiration of what we see in reality. In particular, supersymmetry has been posited to explain a number of different strange results, most importantly the apparent discrepancy of dark matter (that is, that the universe seem to have a lot of mass that we can't see).

      I, for one, wonder what we might learn if we try to model things using integer math instead of the often rounded real numbers that seem to be popular. Of course, with the numbers being so large you run into factoring issues pretty quickly but hey, that's what quantum computers are for right? :)

      We use the real numbers to model things because they do a really good job. One could try to just model a universe where the base field was the rational numbers (that is, ratios of integers) but that would have a lot of problems. For example, you won't be able to make a square with a diagonal connecting two corners. Moreover, for most purposes, calculations that can be done in the reals can be done with limits of rational numbers (in fact one way of rigorously defining the real numbers defines real numbers as special limits of rationals called Cauchy sequences. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cauchy_sequence [wikipedia.org]. I'm not at all sure why you think the difficulty of factoring integers is relevant in this context. For most practical calculations, you very rarely need to factor integers. Moreover, while it is true that quantum computers can in theory factor integers quickly using Shor's algorithm http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shor's_algorithm [wikipedia.org], for all we know it might be possible for standard computers to factor quickly. Moreover, the models we use to talk about quantum computing rely very heavily on the real numbers which you aren't happy with.

      • Thanks for this clear and cogent post. A lot of /.ers who aren't physicists (i.e., the vast majority of us) seem to really enjoy beating up on modern physics for some reason, and one of the most common complaints is "it's all math, there's no connection to reality any more." It's good to see a reminder that (a) a lot of physics has always been math, (b) there's still plenty of experimental work generating interesting real-world observations which the math is necessary to describe, and (c) the math that's

      • by tyrione (134248)
        I assume you want to include Complex Numbers in there with Reals when studying Quantum Theory, correct?
      • by trout007 (975317)

        You should check out Universal Geometry and Rational Trigonometry. By redefining length and angle you can greatly simplify geometry where all problems are solvable by algebra without trig functions. Very cool.

        http://web.maths.unsw.edu.au/~norman/YouTube.htm#WildTrig [unsw.edu.au]

      • There are a few supersymmetry models, many pop up in string theory. No rethinking of mainstream theories necessary from these results.
      • > First of all, Einstein was famous for doing very clever thought experiments.

        Thought experiment = oxymoron. You can't use that to PROVE anything about how the Real World functions.

        http://www.adras.com/WHY-SCIENCE-IS-NOT-PART-OF-CULTURE.t20933-91-2.html [adras.com]

        Einstein used "thought experiments" for two main purposes.
        One was to *explain* the consequences of a proposed tenet, postulate, or model. The consequences then are presumably testable.
        - The other was to show how an imagined outcome is consisten

      • (that is, that the universe seem to have a lot of mass that we can't see)

        My guess is we need an experiment that lets us "see" 4 (or more) dimensional things.

        Imagine a flat-lander trying to figure out why his circle seems to pull other things towards it when he's not aware of the 3rd dimension which makes it a sphere with large mass... or why different circles of the same size behave differently, because he can't see how far through his 2D plane they are.

        If we can do that (and maybe we can't) then we'll be closer to making some sense of this invisible mass.

      • Real numbers do seem to do a really good job at modeling things, except those models seem to break at very small and very large scales. It occurs to me that the precision you lose when you start chopping off repeating reals at some arbitrary decimal might have big effects somewhere in the bushes where you can't get a good look at them.

        I don't know, maybe it's time to abandon the coordinate plane entirely and start with something different.

        Which I guess is what I'm getting at. We use the math that we're comf

    • your argument seems to allude to you sucking at math.

  • by ThorGod (456163)

    I seem to remember a physics colloquium speaker discussing the likely energies for the higgs-boson back in 2005-6. He made it sound unlikely that it would be seen at any of the energies created at the LHC. It could require a much, much more massive particle accelerator to find the HB.

    • by JamesP (688957)

      Not really

      It is my understanding that other accelerators excluded Higgs at a higher energy range (>180GEv) (not sure how they did that)

  • by tylersoze (789256) on Saturday August 27, 2011 @11:45PM (#37232250)

    Calling SUSY "all but dead" is overstating the case just a little. *Minimal* SUSY appears to not fit the data, but that doesn't mean another version of SUSY might be the right answer. SUSY is one of those things, like string theory, that I think a lot of physicists are going to have a tough time letting go of until they are thoroughly disproven, assuming that ever happens. The problem is we're kind of getting to the point where it's hard to test these theories since it requires energies we have no hope of ever achieving in order to investigate them experimentally, unless we are clever and find other consequences of the theory at lower energies, like the B-meson decay.

    • Re:Overstating (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 28, 2011 @12:14AM (#37232346)

      I am a particle physicist (with no leanings for or against SUSY variants), and I have to agree totally. Calling SUSY "all but dead" is absurd, at this point.

      1. Minimal SUSY has had theoretical difficulties (without needing experimental difficulties) for more than a decade now.

      2. The SUSY ecosystem is really quite vast. In some sense, it's a shame that it has such a simple name/acronym. Minimal SUSY is really a rather uninteresting modification to the Standard Model, anyhow.

      3. The potential for the LHC to shed light on whole ranges of SUSY models (with or without an answer regarding the Higgs field) is understood by physicists to be something which is more likely to be tested (read: ruled out) at the 14 TeV center-of-mass scale.

      The decision run the LHC for two years and *then* upgrade in 2013 was made primarily because of the potential to bracket the Higgs at ~ 4 to 5 sigma with ~ 5 fb^-1 of collision data. Anyone who attended (or read slides from) Chamonix 2010 or 2011 can see this rather plainly.

  • If they keep having disagreements they are going to have to sort it with a mediator. Like maybe a neutral Z boson.

  • FTFS: "and for all practical purposes, the Supersymmetric Extension of the Standard Model of Physics is dead."
    Was it ever alive for any practical purposes?

  • Wait (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 427_ci_505 (1009677) on Sunday August 28, 2011 @01:23AM (#37232552)

    Has Netcraft confirmed that the model is dead?

  • http://motls.blogspot.com/2011/08/supersymmetry-and-irrationality-of-bbc.html [blogspot.com]

    The BBC has placed supersymmetry next to the carbon dioxide and the AGW "deniers" as the ultimate enemies of Gaia. A would-be journalist, Mr Pallab Ghosh, chose this title:

    LHC results put supersymmetry theory 'on the spot'

    The reality is that after 2/fb or so (pronounce: "two inverse femtobarns") that have been analyzed by each major detector of the LHC, no sign of new physics has been detected. It's sti

    • by geniice (1336589)

      While the article may have a few razor thin points that can be put down to the BBC needing to make the article human readable the author's attempt to fit in some many political digs rather destroys their credibility.

  • ... but when I do, I head over to http://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/wordpress/ [columbia.edu] (Not Even Wrong).
  • Because today science found that something IS NOT - and that can be removed from the list of things to try to find WHAT IS. The very basic nature of science; test;observe;conclude.

    As opposed to religion which starts at conclude and then everything else has to fit that.

  • To build a steel suspension bridge is what existing mathematical models are to the more subtle, esoteric minutia of standard model theories! The physical sciences need a different modeling language to visualize, extrapolate, interpret and explore these regions where it appears that mysteries still abound.

  • I recall when supersymmetry was all the rage, to the point where axial jets in Fermilab were considered evidence that the only way forward was susy. The beauty of its solution to the hierarchy problem demanded attention, and lacking any other contenders there was a significant level of "well, this has to be it!". Then by the late 80's, the lack of any evidence for susy partners right in the middle of the rich bands made it sort of fade into the background. By then superstrings were all the rage.

    So here we a

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