Bref échange (par blogs interposés) avec Matt Strassler ... et commentaires autour du boson de Higgs

What if the Large Hadron Collider Finds Nothing Else?

Thank you for speaking bluntly about this uncomfortable but interesting scenario of no physics beyond thenStandard Model at LHC and trying to draw prospects from such an alternative.
Your discussion about the Michelson experiment which more or less rejected the existence of a classical ether is on purpose from an epistemological point of view. But as far as heuristics is concerned, it is quite ironical to notice that the discovery of a pretty standard, fundamental scalar Higgs boson puts the existence of its quantum field and specific non zero vacuum expectation value on a firm basis, so it demonstates the existence of a very special quantum ether, some kind of “space condensate” so to speak (a wink to condensed matter phenomena which inspired the conception of the Higgs mechanism) ! So before looking for new fundamental particles may be high energy physicists definitely need to fully understand the Higgs at the TeV scale (with a Higgs factory accelerator) and extrapolate all the possible consequences of the associated “space condensate” up to Planck scale … and try to test them in a cosmological context (inflation model) with the measures of … the Planck sattelite!
  • Yes, there is some irony in that, I agree… but still, the “space-timecondensate” (not a space-condensate) that is the Higgs field fits right in with the odd story of an ether which is at rest with respect to everyone, no matter how they are moving. This is in contrast to the condensed matter physicists who had a space-condensate with respect to which you can be moving. 
  • There’s no question that we need to understand the Higgs thoroughly, and of course that is a major part of the LHC research program. But we already know enough about quantum field theory to know that there’s a conceptual problem if nothing else shows up at the LHC.
  • laboussoleestmonpays 
    Thanks for your addendum! The time dimension is very relevant indeed: what would be physics without causality and its “thermodynamic handmaiden” stability (another intriguing aspect of the Higgs vacuum by the way)?
    To carry on the fact that “ideas developed in the condensed matter field can prove useful in particle physics” (to quote more or less S. Weinberg :-), do you think the following line of reasoning : “stability conditions in solid state physics … are known, in certain cases, to cause UV divergences to sum automatically to zero” (quoted from has any chance to be relevant in the context of the quadratic divergences in the Higgs sector?
  • laboussoleestmonpays 
    To put equations (not mine!) behind “space condensate” (my awkward words) I precise that I have in mind the specific mathematical model patiently refined since twenty years by a mathematician A. Connes with severa theoretical physicsts like A. Chamseddine, M. Marcolli and P. van Suijlekom (, which does not pretend to solve the naturalness issue of the Higgs (it’s not their main strategy I would say) but try to give more conceptual meaning to the Standard Model Yang-Mills-Higgs gauge structure … may be like special relativity explained the hidden Lorentz symmetry of space-time ;-)

Dear Matt,
Didn’t mommy tell you never to mention the ether in company? Now look what you’ve done!
Dear Julian, I think Matt was right to mention the classical ether for the purpose of his argumentation. He makes a nice and courageous work of popularization and takes some “risks”. Of course the “ether” word is like a magic, pandora box and triggers wild speculations but for a condensed matter physicist working with low energy excitations over different kinds of electronic quantum liquids this is not necesseraly a dirty world, just a “meme” so to speak (of course Fermi sea or fractional quantum Hall liquid are more politically correct or fancy…).
To come back to the Higgs naturalness issue I think naively that it is interesting to notice that the “natural” solution for accelerator physicists is to look for new particles while the “natural” idea in a solid-state physics perspective is to think first about a new ether, a new vacuum state in order to make the scalar sector richer. Then its new phenomenology could be tricky to uncover with a collider but we can rely on astroparticle physics now since quantum cosmology has been born with Cobe, WMAP and Planck satellites.
Last but not least I wonder if, before thinking about new particles or new quantum vacuum, one would rather not look for a better or more subtle spacetime model to embed the Standard Model and its Higgs sector in a more generic or “natural” framework.


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