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Theoretical physicist: The Higgs mass is not “natural”

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In “contrast to all the other particle masses in the standard model” From theoretical physicist Sabine Hossenfelder, author of Lost in Math: How Beauty Leads Physics Astray (June, 2018), at Back(Re)Action:

Yes, I know the headlines said the LHC would probe string theory, and the LHC would probe supersymmetry. The headlines were wrong. I am sorry they lied to you.

But the LHC, despite not finding supersymmetry or extra dimensions or black holes or unparticles or what have you, has taught us an important lesson. That’s because it is clear now that the Higgs mass is not “natural”, in contrast to all the other particle masses in the standard model. That the mass be natural means, roughly speaking, that getting masses from a calculation should not require the input of finely tuned numbers.

Lost in Math

The idea that the Higgs-mass should be natural is why many particle physicists were confident the LHC would see something beyond the Higgs. This didn’t happen, so the present state of affairs forces them to rethink their methods. There are those who cling to naturalness, hoping it might still be correct, just in a more difficult form. Some are willing to throw it out and replace it instead with appealing to random chance in a multiverse. But most just don’t know what to do.

Personally I hope they’ll finally come around and see that they have tried for several decades to solve a problem that doesn’t exist. There is nothing wrong with the mass of the Higgs. What’s wrong with the standard model is the missing connection to gravity and a Landau pole. More.

She says theoretical physicsts are having to do a lot of rethinking and she hopes for fresh ideas in the coming years. That contrasts sharply with proposed wars on falsifiability and claims within the respectable academy that there is no sensible answer.

See also: Theoretical physicist: Reasons to be skeptical of the multiverse. Bookmark this for the next Airhead Invasion! of your local Great Ideas discussion group.

Cosmologist Sean Carroll: A multiverse is “beyond falsifiability” – and  that’s okay with him

Cosmologist Sean Carroll on why there is something rather than nothing: No “sensible answer”

and

Post-modern physics: String theory gets over the need for evidence

7 Replies to “Theoretical physicist: The Higgs mass is not “natural”

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    a little background:

    The 2 most dangerous numbers in the universe are threatening the end of physics – Jan. 14, 2016
    Excerpt: Dangerous No. 1: The strength of the Higgs field,,,
    there’s something mysterious about the Higgs field that continues to perturb physicists like Cliff.
    According to Einstein’s theory of general relativity and the theory of quantum mechanics — the two theories in physics that drive our understanding of the cosmos on incredibly large and extremely small scales — the Higgs field should be performing one of two tasks, says Cliff.
    Either it should be turned off, meaning it would have a strength value of zero and wouldn’t be working to give particles mass, or it should be turned on, and, as the theory goes, this “on value” is “absolutely enormous,” Cliff says. But neither of those two scenarios are what physicists observe.
    “In reality, the Higgs field is just slightly on,” says Cliff. “It’s not zero, but it’s ten-thousand-trillion times weaker than it’s fully on value — a bit like a light switch that got stuck just before the ‘off’ position. And this value is crucial. If it were a tiny bit different, then there would be no physical structure in the universe.”
    Why the strength of the Higgs field is so ridiculously weak defies understanding.
    Dangerous No. 2: The strength of dark energy
    ,,, you should be able to sum up all the energy of empty space to get a value representing the strength of dark energy. And although theoretical physicists have done so, there’s one gigantic problem with their answer:
    “Dark energy should be 10^120 times stronger than the value we observe from astronomy,” Cliff said. “This is a number so mind-boggling huge that it’s impossible to get your head around … this number is bigger than any number in astronomy — it’s a thousand-trillion-trillion-trillion times bigger than the number of atoms in the universe. That’s a pretty bad prediction.”
    On the bright side, we’re lucky that dark energy is smaller than theorists predict. If it followed our theoretical models, then the repulsive force of dark energy would be so huge that it would literally rip our universe apart. The fundamental forces that bind atoms together would be powerless against it and nothing could ever form — galaxies, stars, planets, and life as we know it would not exist.
    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/.....57366.html

    Sabine Hossenfelder is quickly turning into a favorite of mine:

    More Multiverse Madness – Sabine Hossenfelder – January 25, 2018
    Excerpt: The “multiverse” – the idea that our universe is only one of infinitely many – enjoys some credibility, at least in the weirder corners of theoretical physics. But there are good reasons to be skeptical, and I’m here to tell you all of them.,,,
    Eternal inflation is an extrapolation of inflation, which is an extrapolation of the concordance model, which is an extrapolation of the present-day universe back in time. Eternal inflation, like inflation, works by inventing a new field (the “inflaton”) that no one has ever seen because we are told it vanished long ago. Eternal inflation is a story about the quantum fluctuations of the now-vanished field and what these fluctuations did to gravity, which no one really knows, but that’s the game.
    There is little evidence for inflation, and zero evidence for eternal inflation. But there is a huge number of models for both because available data don’t constraint the models much. Consequently, theorists theorize the hell out of it. And the more papers they write about it, the more credible the whole thing looks.
    And then there’s the string theory landscape, the graveyard of disappointed hopes. It’s what you get if you refuse to accept that string theory does not predict which particles we observe.
    String theorists originally hoped that their theory would explain everything. When it became clear that didn’t work, some string theorists declared if they can’t do it then it’s not possible, hence everything that string theory allows must exist – and there’s your multiverse. But you could do the same thing with any other theory if you don’t draw on sufficient observational input to define a concrete model. The landscape, therefore, isn’t so much a prediction of string theory as a consequence of string theorists’ insistence that theirs a theory of everything.
    Why then, does anyone take the multiverse seriously? Multiverse proponents usually offer the following four arguments in favor of the idea:,,,
    http://backreaction.blogspot.c.....dness.html

    I believe I read on one her blogs that she wrote “Lost in Math” so that her mother could read it.,, Oh yea, here it is:

    Hi Sabine, what audience will your forthcoming book be aimed at?

    I sincerely hope it will be possible to understand my book with not more than high-school-level physics. My mom read it and says she understood it, and she doesn’t have a degree in physics, so maybe that gives you an idea.
    http://backreaction.blogspot.c.....7201025329

  2. 2
    critical rationalist says:

    “The more important fundamental laws and facts of physical science have all been discovered, and these are now so firmly established that the possibility of their ever being supplanted in consequence of new discoveries is exceedingly remote…. Our future discoveries must be looked for in the sixth place of decimals.”

    – Albert. A. Michelson, speech at the dedication of Ryerson Physics Lab, U. of Chicago 1894

    “A century earlier, the mathematician Joseph-Louis Lagrange had remarked that Isaac Newton had not only been the greatest genius who ever lived, but also the luckiest, for ‘the system of the world can be discovered only once.’ Lagrange would never know that some of his own work, which he had regarded as a mere translation of Newton’s into a more elegant mathematical language, was a step towards the replacement of Newton’s ‘system of the world’. ”

  3. 3
    polistra says:

    The LHC consumes billions of dollars in an EXPLICIT attempt to obliterate the universe with a black hole. That’s all it does.

    If any sanity remained in the world, the LHC should have been halted and decommissioned as soon as its purpose was clear.

  4. 4
    ET says:

    The LHC consumes billions of dollars in an EXPLICIT attempt to obliterate the universe with a black hole. That’s all it does.

    And yet it has been used and we are still here.

  5. 5
    aarceng says:

    ET @ 4
    “And yet it has been used and we are still here.”
    No, we were sucked through the resulting black hole into a parallel universe in which Donald Trump became President of the United States.

  6. 6
    ET says:

    I like it

  7. 7

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