Scientists are beginning to get very worried—that an idea proposed by me and three collaborators in 1997 may turn out to be right. If it is right, then (a) we live in a “multiverse” (an idea that most physicists hate) and (b) there is a good chance that certain discoveries people were hoping would be made by the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) won’t be made.
An article, posted on the Scientific American website last Saturday (and first published by Simons Science News) explains some of this. The article refers to and links to the paper of Agrawal, Barr, Donoghue, and Seckel on the last page, where it says “other physicists showed in 1997.”
It all has to do with one of the main theoretical puzzles in fundamental physics: why is the mass of the Higgs particle 17 orders of magnitude smaller than its “natural” value? (“Natural” here is a technical term in particle physics. It has nothing to do with natural vs. supernatural.) There are several explanations of the Higgs mass that preserve the principle of “naturalness”. All of these ideas predict that new kinds of particles should be seen by the LHC. But so far, none of them has turned up. Physicists are beginning to think that maybe they won’t.
Then how would one explain the puzzle of the Higgs mass being so light? The only physics idea left is the one proposed in 1997 in that paper by me and my friends—namely that we live in a multiverse. I hasten to add that we didn’t invent the multiverse idea; we only made the connection between the multiverse idea and the Higgs mass puzzle.
This is kind of a huge deal, as the article on the Scientific American website explains. The article gets one important thing wrong, however. If the Higgs mass is not explained in a (technically) “natural” way, but by the multiverse idea, it in no way implies that the laws of physics aren’t beautiful or harmonious.
Those who want to understand these matters better can read my September 11, 2008 article, “On the Edge of Discovery.”
I explain there why the mass of the Higgs particle is puzzling and what the multiverse idea is.