Particle physics on the verge of a new era of discovery

The year 2012 marked a monumental moment in particle physics with the discovery of the Higgs Boson at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). This breakthrough represented the completion of the standard model of particle physics, a significant milestone. However, despite this achievement, the standard model falls short of explaining all the intricacies of the universe, leaving physicists eager to explore physics beyond its limitations.

In a thought-provoking paper published in The European Physical Journal H, researchers Robert Harlander, Jean-Philippe Martinez, and Gregor Schiemann from prominent institutions in Germany contemplate the possibility of a new era of discovery in particle physics. They explore the implications of various scenarios for the future of high-energy physics.

According to Martinez, the concept of particles has played a fundamental role in physics for over a century, but it has evolved over time, leading to novel ways of observing and detecting particles. Currently, detecting a particle requires it to be “on-shell,” meaning its mass, energy, and momentum must satisfy specific conditions (E²=m²c²+p²c⁴). In simpler terms, for a new particle to be observed, it must exist in a stable state, at least momentarily, during experiments.

The authors propose that all new particles might be too heavy to be produced in an on-shell state. If this holds true, it would necessitate a paradigm shift in particle observation, potentially even altering the concept of particles as we understand them.

Martinez emphasizes that particle physics is at a critical juncture in its history. There is a chance that the era of conventional particle discoveries, as we know them today, might come to an end. Nevertheless, the authors argue that the next transformative step in particle physics is likely to emerge from within the field itself, driven by the ongoing quest for understanding the fundamental nature of the universe. The future of high-energy physics holds the promise of unlocking new mysteries and unveiling hidden truths about the cosmos.

Source: Springer

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