reply to post by TheRooster
finding the Higgs boson emerging from collisions at energies made possible by the LHC will call into question the Standard Model of
particle physics. Finding it will complete the Standard Model. For science, the stakes riding on this alone are enormous.
Many scientists are also pinning their hopes on finding some of the particles theoretically predicted to exist if the universe is 'supersymmetric'.
This won't prove anything directly, but it will affect certain key theories on the edge of physics. These are the various families of string theory,
quantum gravity theories and so on. Depending on the results we get from the LHC, some of these theories will be reinforced while others will be
called into question or falsified.
Now string theory and quantum gravity are pretty arcane stuff. You're right to ask why we should be spending billions to substantiate or refute
Here's why. These theories represent pretty much the outer limits of what we think
the world must be like. If we want to know any more about
what it really is
like than we do now, we have to find some way of falsifying or substantiating some of these theories. We do that by
conducting experiments and seeing how closely the results match what the theories predict.
We can test a lot of new physics using cosmological data. But often we need to look at things more closely than that, under controlled conditions. The
things we need to look at are fantastically tiny and zip about at very high energies, which makes them elusive. We need a very, very powerful kind of
microscope to observe them. That microscope is the Large Hadron Collider.
We need the LHC to help us decide between theories that try to explain what the world we live in is really like; to help us decide which of these
theories are false and which might be true; to teach us what the world is really made of, and why things happen the way they do.
Personally, I find it impossible to put a price on such knowledge. In a post on
I joked that I didn't care about another member's work and family as much as I did about finding the Higgs boson. I'd hate to
have to make the choice in real life, but I wasn't lying, either. What can be more important to us, as a species, than finding out the truth about
the world we live in? What higher purpose can there possibly be for humankind?