That is, if a much bigger, better collider than the Large Hadron Collider that found the Higgs boson were built, would it find anything new? Or are the problem physicists see with the Standard Model not resolvable by smashing particles together? Japan is delaying a new collider and its decision is thought to produce a domino effect in other countries. One worry is the “nightmare scenario” in which the collider with hitherto undreamed-of energies reveals a desert, “a barren region otherwise devoid of new discoveries”:
Sir David King, the U.K.’s former chief scientific advisor, even goes as far to suggest it might be time to wrap up particle physics as we know it, not only because of what might be diminishing returns in terms of new discoveries but also due to the opportunity cost next-generation machines would bear for dealing with more pressing concerns. “I’m happy to draw a line at the FCC, congratulate all the particle physicists on the amazing work they’ve done, but suggest they move on to other extraordinarily challenging aspects of fundamental science,” he says. “I’m saying this at a time when humanity is faced with the biggest potential crisis it has ever had to face up to, which is climate change. I believe our intellectual resources should be focused on that.” Jonathan O’Callaghan, “Would New Physics Colliders Make Big Discoveries or Wander a Particle Desert?” at Scientific American
You know particle physics is in serious trouble when the idea of just putting the money into climate change instead gets serious face time.
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See also: Sabine Hossenfelder: Is science harmed by an illusion of progress? Tellingly, Hossenfelder adds, “So here is the puzzle: Why can you not find any expert, besides me, willing to publicly voice criticism on particle physics? Hint: It’s not because there is nothing to criticize.”
Note: She may not be as lonely as she thinks. Others just talk about it in a more roundabout way.