Monday, January 06, 2020
Musings on the Current Status of HEP
Peter Woit had a posting titled "Musings on the Current Status of HEP" commenting the article of particle physicist Misha Shifman having the same title. Shifman's conclusion is that HEP represents a dead branch in the tree of science. There is no doubt that Shifman will have followers since most particle physicists and also those in other fields know the situation and telling the the ugly truth is not so dangerous anymore.
I remember when the first superstring revolution took place 1984. Sheldon Glashow, who shared with Salam and Weinberg Nobel from the development of standard model - was one of those who realized from the beginning what might be the consequences. I had published my thesis 1982 and was convinced that it would not take more than a couple of years before strings would be replaced with 3-D surfaces. I was wrong.
One of the comments made by Glashow later was "...you may call it a tumor, if you will..." . It was indeed a tumor, which spread almost instantaneously. 10 years later when it had already become clear that superstrings did not provide the unique theory of everything. M-theory emerged. At this time censorship was established in arXiv as also I had to painfully learn. This made impossible communication of ideas and turned out to be lethal for HEP: science cannot make progress under censorship.
Eventually the original vision about unique theory was replaced with its opposite. Landscape as set of solutions to the cosmological constant problem around 1997, and meant that there is in practice no hope for a theory able to predict anything. Two decades ago it became clear that there is actually no landscape, the desired solutions simply do not exist. Now Swampland is the fashion. The sad outcome of this Odysseia lasting for a quarter of century was the death of HEP.
It would be important to analyze carefully the sociology of super-string revolution to avoid similar catastrophes in future.
For a summary of earlier postings see Latest progress in TGD.