(By Tommaso Dorigo)
The excitement over the 750 GeV would-be resonance could not be higher these days, with 1) accelerator scientists at the LHC producing collisions in the core of the CMS and ATLAS detectors, 2) theorists producing more and more interpretations of the physics scenarios about to open up, and 3) experimentalists getting ready to jump at the data.
The evidence of #1 is of public domain. As a proof of #2 above, below please find a graph of the number of publications on the 750 GeV signal, which shows that over 350 publications have bene produced this far, and the number keeps growing. As for #3, suffices to open up your twitter app and check the #MoarCollisions hashtag to see what’s going on in the overheating brains of experimentalists.
One is bound to ask oneself, “what if it is real ?”. We already wrote about that possibility in a former post in this blog. Of course, we pretty much know what is going to happen if there IS a resonance there to be discovered. The first occasion to distribute publically the findings is the LHCP conference in June. I expect that the experiments will not have much new data to show there, but maybe some first indications that a fluctuation persists will be shown there. Another combined 3-sigma from the two experiments would be enough to convince almost everybody.
This would multiply the hype across the world. Newspapers would start heralding the new forthcoming revolution in particle physics. The price of niobium and other elements used for superconducting magnets would skyrocket.
In the longer term, after a declared discovery of the particle at ICHEP in Chicago (beginning of August), high-energy physics would really see a renaissance. Money would flow in; good and bad proposals for new experiments would find equally generous support. And indeed, particle physicists would brace in for a new global brainstorming of proportions equalling or surpassing the 1956 crisis of the tau-theta puzzle.
But what if it is a fluke ?
What will happen next in that case, which is much, much more probable, is also quite predictable. Gloom will set in in the corridors of physics departments and in the offices of Building 40 at CERN. While theorists will return to their pre-crisis occupations without a glitch, it will be experimentalists who will be the most hit by the blasted delusion. A few will start considering a job elsewhere. Many will bite the bullet and keep doing their job, but the level of depression will be significant.
Alas, being a scientist is like that. You go from excitement to depression many times for any one time that you actually touch heaven, when you do discover something. What’s even tougher is that most of the times the guy who produces the graph who shatters your own hopes is you. But it’s been like that ever since doing science started to be a paid occupation… So as scientists, we cannot really complain!