IN 1973, physicist Steven Weinberg gave a talk in Aix-en-Provence, France. It was there, according to Weinberg, that he first used the term “standard model” to describe the nascent description of the fundamental constituents of the universe and their interactions. Fifty years on, the standard model of particle physics is a stunningly accurate picture of what everything is made of and how it all works to produce reality.
Practically everything, anyway. Because although the 50th anniversary is well worth celebrating, it is impossible to ignore the fact that the theory is incomplete. It doesn’t explain gravity, or why we have so much matter in the universe and so little antimatter. And it says nothing about so-called dark matter and dark energy, postulated to explain why the cosmos behaves in certain ways.
This is why physicists are casting around for clues that could lead us to a better theory. But which, if any, will deliver an upgrade to the standard model? How do we find the deluxe version? We let six of today’s leading physicists explain how they think we will finally discover a more complete picture of reality.
Collisions at the energy frontier
University College London
It is always risky to bet against the standard model of particle physics. Historically, most people who have done so have lost. But over the next decade and a half, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) will continue …