Thursday, September 18, 2008

Big physics could end up putting physicists out of a job?

A physicist friend writes to say, regarding the current Large Hadron Collider experiments, aimed at finding the "God particle",

Perhaps it should be pointed out that many high energy physicists are quite worried about their future as a discipline. The physics of today's particle experiments test theory of the 1960s - which has led to an exodus of theorists from this research discipline.

It will be a big accomplishment if they find the Higgs boson, but this has been part of the standard model of particle physics for some time. The really interesting thing they are hoping for is sometime new - there hasn't been anything unexpected in experimental particle physics for a long time. If something unexpected in this new energy range isn't found, it is quite possible that many physics departments across the globe will ramp down the experimental particle physics programs.

As it is, all of the possibly-interesting physics has been exported to Switzerland - there has been much talk here about a post-accelerator era.
See also:

Will it be a disaster for physics if the Higgs boson is the ONLY thing the Large Hadron Collider finds?

Mass: Is the Higgs boson the "stuff" of all that stuff we call matter?