Friday, 12 June 2009

Boston Tea Party

Last weekend I made a trip to Boston and had a privilege to see bits of the SUSY'09 conference. Backreaction and Quantum Diaries have already run their stories but in my opinion they did not fully capture the grandeur of the event. 9 days in a row, including foreplay. Over 400 participants, not counting squatters. 42 plenary speakers, most of whom witnessed the glorious days when supersymmetry was conceived. Seven parallel parallel sessions to cover every aspect of supersymmetry that has not yet been covered thoroughly enough. Royal coffee break menu fully adequate to the royal conference fee. And so on and on since 16 years and into the future.

Meanwhile, there is no single hint from experiment that supersymmetry is realized in nature... but that should not upset anyone. As my fellow blogger skillfully put it, supersymmetry is the "shining beacon", the "raison d’etre" and for this reason "the conundrum is how it will be discovered, not if". That's why every year we come together to enjoy old familiar faces and old familiar talks. The point is, while waiting for the inevitable, to maintain that kind of spirit that David Lodge praised in his books.

On the picture below, the photographer about to make a photograph of the SUSY'09 participants.


Anonymous said...

As public financial support to basic research is degrading, with the added advantage of having the crisis as an excuse, I wonder how longer it'll be till the public realizes the volume of resources getting gloriously wasted on research deeply unscientific in its root.
Having the vast majority of theoretical physicists work on susy and strings (not to mention the related phenomena of lobbies and trends) is according to many others, a real blow to the scientific thinking and method (yes; they are both un-verifiable
although in a way so elaborate that could pass itself as a system resembling science; like medieval christian theology).
As a reader I enjoyed the article but as a physicist I can't say so.

Anonymous said...

Oops, sorry for this, meant to write "un-falsifiable" of course. But come to think of it they are also un-verifiable in a sense! Missing transverse energy can give you anything. Btw I once heard someone say the shortest joke is "string phenomenology".
...Ok I'm off now :)

Lumo said...

Imbeciles like the anonymous above - who has absolutely no idea about the knowledge in physics but whose opinions' strength is inversely proportional to his knowledge - have always been around.

What has changed in recent years is that this arrogant pseudointellectual trash has become proud about itself, probably because it is not emphasized sufficiently often that these people are trash.

The same anon said...

It's true that not much can be achieved while each of the two groups continues to just be vitriolic towards the other. But still, nothing in what I'd written proves that I have no knowledge about physics. The problem is not that it's not "emphasized sufficiently often" but that it's not "emphasized persuasively enough"...
(Yes we could go on like that for ever, or we could try real arguments instead. Or move to another blog 'cause I happen to really like this one!)

Thomas Larsson said...

Theorem [Larsson 2007]
Supersymmetry will not be discovered at the LHC.

Proof: String theory predicts supersymmetry (Witten 1984-2002). String theory predictions are always wrong. Hence supersymmetry does not exist, and will in particular not be found at the LHC. QED.

Lubos Motl will lose his experimental-susy-by-2006 bet.

Arnaud said...

Well it's bound to work this time because there are 42 speakers, and 42 is THE answer as we know...