You are going to a conference. The speaker talked about her 3D model of a purple spider that lives in the north. She admits that there is no evidence of it, but she argues that a mission should be sent to search for it.

There is a model for a flying earthworm, but it flies only in caves. He wants to search the world's caves. There's a model of an animal on Mars. He says it's testable.

I have never heard of a conference like that. Most particle physics conferences have sessions like this, except they use more math. Physicists often invent new particles for which there is no evidence, publish papers about them, and demand that the hypothesis be tested. More are being commissioned as we speak, and many of these tests have been done. It is spending time and money that it doesn't need.

Physicists have created an entire particle zoo with names like preons, sfermions, dyons and magnetic monopoles. The fad of "unparticles" was a short-lived one.

All of the experiments that looked for particles that make up dark matter came back empty-handed. We don't know if dark matter is made of particles or not, and we don't know what the particles do. Physicists were confident that the Lhc would see at least a few of those particles.

Many particle physicists will admit they don't believe in the existence of particles. They claim that their work is good practice or that every once in a while they come up with an idea that is useful for something else. There is an army of typewriting monkeys. Is this a strategy that works?

Particle physicists try to distance themselves from what their colleagues in theory development do. They profit from it because all those hypothetical particles are used in grant proposals. The experimentalists don't let their mouths open. The only people willing to criticize the situation are people like me who have left the field.

The decline of particle physics is a result of many factors. The problem is that most people who work in the field think that inventing particles is a good procedure because they know what they are doing.

To make a long story short, a good scientific idea has to be false in order to be valid. Particle physicists think that any false idea is good science.

Predicts for new particles used to be correct only if they solved a problem with the previous theories. The Standard Model doesn't require new particles, it works the way it is. It was necessary to solve a problem with the help of the Higgs boson. The antiparticles that Paul Dirac predicted were also needed to solve a problem. New particles don't solve problems.

In some cases, the new particles are meant to make a theory more appealing, but in other cases they are meant to fit statistical anomalies. Particle physicists will write hundreds of papers about how new particles explain the observed anomalies. They call itambulance-chasing after the strategy of lawyers to follow ambulances in order to find new clients.

It is a good strategy to chase an ambulance. The majority of those papers pass peer review and are published. Since ambulance-chasers cite each other's papers, they can each get hundreds of citations. It is not a good strategy for scientific advancement. The papers will no longer be relevant after the anomalies have vanished.

Thousands of tenured professors make a living from this procedure of inventing particles and then ruling them out, which has been going on for many years. In the physics community, it is accepted practice. No one questions the logic of it. It's not in public.

The world needs technological advances more than ever before, and now is not the time to invent particles because even a blind chicken can find something. I am sad to see that the field has turned into a factory for useless papers.

  • There is a physicist at the institute. She is the creator of Science Without the Gobbledygook and the author of Existential physics: A scientist's guide to life's biggest questions.