Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Diminishing marginal returns to physics research

Physicists Bummed That Physics Is Pretty Much What They Expected: A Scientific Nightmare is Coming True
--A headline appropriate for the Onion, but actually a headline from the Atlantic. Article excerpt below.

The Large Hadron Collider discovered the Higgs boson. Hooray! Success for the big machine!

But not really.

The discovery of the Higgs means that an entire era of physics -- in which the so-called Standard Model of particles was theorized and then proven -- has come to an end. And the LHC is not creating any new mysteries to investigate. Physics is following the predictions too closely.

"Despite all this build up of theoretical expectations, there is no experimental hint of anything outside the Standard Model at the LHC. Hence the long faces and worried words wherever theorists gather to drink coffee," reports physicists Glenn Starkman over at Scientific American. "Hence the disappointment in the eyes of the young experimentalists looking forward to the next accelerator, the next frontier where their mark will be made."
--Alexis Madrigal, Atlantic, on the career hazards of too much success