The End of Accelerator Physics?

July 31, 2014 7:37 PM

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In summer 2012, a dramatic news conference was held at the CERN laboratory in Geneva. There it was announced that two independent experiments at the lab's Large Hadron Collider (LHC) had confirmed the existence of the Higgs boson. This was a great triumph for the standard model of elementary particle physics that had been developed in the 1970s. In 1964, three different papers had predicted the existence of the Higgs particle, which then became an integral part of the standard model. In the model, the field associated with the Higgs particle provides a mechanism for generating the masses of other elementary particles.

However, the LHC, which cost ten billion dollars, was expected to do much more than simply confirm a model that, since its inception, had already agreed with every experiment designed to test it. The collider was supposed to find signposts for whatever physics lies beyond the standard model, at high...

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