Scientific American iPad App
Cover Image: February 2008 Scientific American Magazine See Inside

The Coming Revolutions in Particle Physics [Preview]

The current Standard Model of particle physics begins to unravel when probed much beyond the range of current particle accelerators. So no matter what the Large Hadron Collider finds, it is going to take physics into new territory

Where the Standard Model Tells Its Tale

Encouraged by a string of promising observations in the 1970s, theorists began to take the Standard Model seriously enough to begin to probe its limits. Toward the end of 1976 Benjamin W. Lee of Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Ill., Harry B. Thacker, now at the University of Virginia, and I devised a thought experiment to investigate how the electroweak forces would behave at very high energies. We imagined collisions among pairs of W, Z and Higgs bosons. The exercise might seem slightly fanciful because, at the time of our work, not one of these particles had been observed. But physicists have an obligation to test any theory by considering its implications as if all its elements were real.

This article was originally published with the title The Coming Revolutions in Particle Physics.

Subscribe     Buy This Issue

Already a Digital subscriber? Sign-in Now
If your institution has site license access, enter here.


Add Comment
  1. 1. Ron Stehlin 05:43 AM 1/20/08

    This analogy of a universal "superconductor" that "gives mass" to certain bosons is very apt. Has it been concidered that the Higgs field itself would be just such a thing and that all mass period is the result of interactions with this universal spacial medium? Given this, wouldn't every point in space be a coordinate for a higgs boson? Surely no one is looking for free roaming Higgs boson?

    Reply | Report Abuse | Link to this
  2. 2. cheben 07:21 PM 1/24/08

    I'am interested in further discoveries that are to change the face of particle physics.


    Reply | Report Abuse | Link to this
  3. 3. Sergey 03:58 AM 1/30/08

    I think between particles there is a sign-variable force (force = + - +-) &.

    Reply | Report Abuse | Link to this
  4. 4. Sergey 04:31 AM 1/30/08

    I think between particles there is a sign-variable force (force = + - +-) &.

    Reply | Report Abuse | Link to this
  5. 5. lysdexia 09:01 PM 2/12/08

    You forgot the bosòns B and W\0. This makes two for weak: W\0, Z\0; and two for elèctric: γ, B; and two for elèctroweak: W\+, W\-. However, "weak" is not a forse but a difortial interaction; there are only three forses: The so-called weak would be the neutral elèctrocolor, and the elèctroweak the chargede elèctrocolor.

    Why don't your exponents show up? It prints 1015 and 1012 instead.

    The fundamental bosòns are not motes (particula); they are divisions of waves. And neither are neutrinos lone motes; here I explain what the "six" quarks and three neutrinos are:


    Edited by lysdexia at 02/12/2008 1:36 PM

    Reply | Report Abuse | Link to this
  6. 6. cvavb chandraraju 05:45 PM 3/15/08

    higgs boson is a bound state of Z andZ * .this bound state with a total spin zero is the standard
    higgs boson.its mass must be twice the mass of the standard Z boson.

    Reply | Report Abuse | Link to this
  7. 7. IbleSnover 01:40 AM 8/7/08

    Sorry to be a nit, but in the quote below, 1015 GeV should be 1015 TeV:

    "If the model holds all the way to 1015 GeV, where the strong and electroweak interactions appear to unify, particles with truly titanic energies act on the Higgs and give it a comparably high mass. Why, then, does the Higgs appear to have a mass of no more than 1 TeV?"

    Reply | Report Abuse | Link to this
  8. 8. IbleSnover 01:46 AM 8/7/08

    since it seems to be difficult to write exponents here, should also make it clear that by 1015 TeV I meant 10 to the power of 15 TeV. Likewise later in the article it says 1012 TeV,, that should be 10 to the power 12 TeV. End of Nittiness, sorry :)

    Reply | Report Abuse | Link to this
  9. 9. IbleSnover 01:50 AM 8/7/08

    sorry, bit of confusion due to the fuddled exponents in the article. Looks to me like 1015 GeV in the article was intended as 10 to power 15 GeV, ie 10 to power 12 TeV. Not 10 to power 15 TeV like i just said in my comments below. Man, i am such a nit. I cant even refrain from nitpicking my own comments.

    Reply | Report Abuse | Link to this
  10. 10. Ariundar 07:22 PM 9/10/08

    Mr. Quigg, for someone who has a fascination with particle physics but by no means has the degree of knowledge as yet, what readings would you recommend (including those with some mathematical intensity) in order to gain a better understanding of elementary particle physics and quantum physics?

    Reply | Report Abuse | Link to this
  11. 11. elokaby 09:04 AM 2/10/09

    Dr. F. Tengelin was quicker than me or more brave than me. I was just thinking of saying the same thing. Let me make his statement more precise. Prof. Steve Weinberg who developed the electro weak theory and shared the Nobel prize with two others is the author of the most authoritative book on quantum field theory. In volume 3 of his book The Quantum Theory of Fields published by Cambridge University Press in 2000 he states on page 192 that the inverse super symmetric unification coupling of all fundamental gauge forces is 17.5. This value is given by his equation 28.2.19. Finding this result scared me quite a bit because I used Prof. El Naschies result which comes to 24.28. This is a large discrepancy. I repeated the calculation again and again but I always found 24.28 and never 17.5. To make things worse Prof. El Naschie noticed immediately that 17.5 must be a miscalculation and said that the exact integer value must be 26. That means 17.5 must be wrong and 24.28 is only an approximation to the exact value which is 26. He said it is obvious that 26 must be correct. He directed me to his paper in Chaos, Solitons & Fractals 35, p. 862 (2008) entitled Non-perturbative super symmetric quantum gravity coupling. I am desperate to know who is right and who is wrong? This result will not affect either the career of a Nobel laureate or the career of a well established professor but it could be devastating for me. I would be extremely grateful to anyone who could help me decide who is right, Prof. Weinberg or Prof. El Naschie. Please send me your answers as quick as possible to the address below.

    Ayman Elokaby

    Dept. of Physics

    University of Alexandria


    Reply | Report Abuse | Link to this
Leave this field empty

Add a Comment

You must sign in or register as a member to submit a comment.
Click one of the buttons below to register using an existing Social Account.
See what we're tweeting about

Scientific American Editors

Free Newsletters

Get the best from Scientific American in your inbox

  SA Briefings

Latest from SA Blog Network

  SA Briefings

Science Jobs of the Week

Email this Article

The Coming Revolutions in Particle Physics: Scientific American Magazine

Scientific American Magazine

Subscribe Today

Save 66% off the cover price and get a free gift!

Learn More >>


Please Log In

Forgot: Password


Account Linking

Welcome, . Do you have an existing account?

Yes, please link my existing account with for quick, secure access.

Forgot Password?

No, I would like to create a new account with my profile information.

Create Account

Report Abuse

Are you sure?


Institutional Access

It has been identified that the institution you are trying to access this article from has institutional site license access to Scientific American on To access this article in its entirety through site license access, click below.

Site license access



Share this Article