The disappointing Higgs and Sterile Neutrinos


(Posted on 14th September 2012)

(To read the blog…refer


“So far, the Higgs boson has been a disappointment. Of course, it was a major discovery that generated worldwide attention. The two independent experiments at the Large Hadron Collider that reported the discovery on July 4, involving thousands of physicists, engineers, and technicians, were conducted with praiseworthy skill and effort.

However, all that has been learned so far is that its mass is 125-126 GeV (billion electron-volts). Otherwise, the data look exactly as predicted by the standard model of elementary particles and forces that was formulated in the 1970s and has agreed with all observations since.

Scientists had anticipated that the LHC would point the way to new physics beyond the standard model. And, this will hopefully still happen, especially after its energy is doubled in 2013. One expectation that has not yet been fulfilled is the production of new particles predicted by a theoretical hypothesis called supersymmetry (SUSY). This principle postulates that the laws of physics are the same for integer spin particles, called “bosons,” and half-integer spin particles called “fermions.” SUSY predicts that every boson will have a fermion partner and every fermion will have a boson partner of the same mass. So, the spin ½ electron will have a spin zero “spartner,” the selectron. And, the spin 1 photon will have a spin ½ spartner, the photino. My favorite is the spartner of the quark, which is called the `squark`


ince squarks, selectrons, and photinos have never been observed, physicists are forced to conclude these sparticles, if they exist at all, are so much more massive than their normal partners that they could not be produced by previous particle accelerators. It was anticipated that the energy of the LHC would be sufficient to reach the regime where supersymmetry comes into play and sparticles would appear. Theorists had, in fact, expected sparticles to appear by now, but it hasn’t happened. By contrast, the Higgs showing up so soon was a pleasant surprise.

Supersymmetry has been a favorite idea among theoretical physicists for decades. It appears to be essential for any future quantum theory of gravity. A generation of young theorists has spent their careers developing the SUSY-based String theory, which they hope to be the ultimate theory-of-everything (TOE). If SUSY is falsified, it is unlikely that String theory will survive.

Actually, that would not be all that bad. Any TOE would mean the end of physics.

One of the big questions in science today is the nature of the dark matter. For years, the favorite candidate has been WIMPs, weakly interacting massive particles. And the most popular WIMPs are supersymmetric particles referred to generically as neutralinos.

While reports that SUSY is dead are exaggerated, other options for the dark matter are currently receiving renewed attention. A recent cover story in New Scientist(September 10, 2012) talked about the role that neutrinos play in the search for physics beyond the standard model. Of particular note are sterile neutrinos, which could constitute both the ingredient of dark matter and a pointer to new physics. (SeeNature News Vol 464, March 18, 2010).

In 1998, an underground experiment in Japan called Super Kamiokande reported the first evidence that neutrinos have mass. I played a small role as a collaborator on this experiment, my final research endeavor before retiring from the University of Hawaii in 2000.

Massless particles with spin have the feature of always spinning either in the same direction as their motion, like a right-handed screw, or opposite. Neutrinos are observed to have left-handed “helicity,” that is, to spin opposite to their direction. Antineutrinos are right-handed, like a normal screw.

However, when a particle has mass it can have either helicity. It follows that neutrinos must have a small right-handed component while antineutrinos have a small left-handed part. Since these components are not observed, they may possibly be “sterile,” meaning, they interact only gravitationally. In that case, they are good candidates for dark matter.

To constitute the dark matter, a sterile neutrino would have to have a mass of at least 1 keV (thousand electron-volts) and a lifetime of billions of years. These features are not ruled out by any known physics.

Interest in sterile neutrinos has also been piqued by several hints in neutrino experiments and astronomical observations. None are sufficiently significant, however, to claim a discovery.

In any case, over 20 experiments are now planning to search for evidence of sterile neutrinos. For all you could want to know about sterile neutrinos, including details on each of these proposals, see the draft of a white paper under preparation by over 200 physicists. As someone who worked on neutrino physics and astrophysics for 30 years, I’m delighted to see neutrinos continue to be a crucial factor in our understanding of nature.“



SKSagar :

Nicely explained…..

Someday we will have a complete understanding of what is dark matter…what is dark energy…Someday we will know why a Fermion needs to rotate through 720 degrees in order to get back from where it started while a Boson needs only 360 degrees ….Someday we will know if Susy (Supersymettry) is to be considered as an acceptable theory or not or it needs to be modified etc etc …In short ,Someday we `ll have a theory that explains everything about matter and energy… …but that theory cannot be called as a `Theory of Everything` …no way can we say… that will be the end of physics.

Any TOE that does not take into account Mind and consciousness and its impact on Matter and energy is incomplete. Any TOE that does not explain what caused the big bang is incomplete.

Its not enough to proceed with the assumption that the big bang happened at time zero. Trying to understand what caused the BB may be in the domain of philosophy…but whenever it is understood it will have to be considered Physics.

Its possible… after trillions of years ..Dark energy will drive the universe, via accelerated expansion, towards perpetual nothingness .. to wipe the slate clean… .. But that won`t be the end of everything….Rather it must be considered as a platform for resetting conditions in preperations for the next cycle… Either that or the fact that the galaxies will get so far away from each other that each one of them becomes a universe in itself..and though it will still be driven by the same dark energy it may not proceed towards oblivion … instead it may collapse on itself and cause another big bang ..but not before the designers have incorporated certain constants into the design.

Any theory that does not guarantee … a continuity.. of a universe with life and incomplete…. In fact this aspect must be set as a precondition for arriving at any meaningful TOE. Any theory that leads towards a future of perpetual nothingness and ends there, is unacceptable to the thinking mind. We must look at hundreds of alternatives that prevent such an end. There is no hurry…there is ample time.. the current universe is still in its infancy…let us keep watching the phenomena …

..Let us keep watching the phenomena…Let us keep flooding ourselves with information..Who knows what may happen – when two worlds collide (Remember Jim reeves?) – when Andromeda gets entangled with the Milky way and rewrites our future … let us keep observing and experimenting and above all playing the game of intuition.

There are inherent complexities here… Even the greatest Scientists differed on conclusions even though the inputs available to them were similar. Einstein was in perennial disagreement with Neils Bohr on the `Completeness/Incompleteness of Quantum Mechanics` issue ( Ref `Einstein, Bohr, and the quantum dilemma.`…by Andrew Whittakar ). John Wheeler and Wigner were involved in a major argument –   on what happens inside a black hole – during the 1979 Centennial symposium to celebrate the achievements of Einstein ( Refer `Some strangeness in the proportion`…edited by Harry Woolfe). Stephen Hawking disagreed with Roger Penrose on Objective reduction of the wave function and its role in the operation of the brain + on the necessity to explain consciousness (Refer `The large , the small and the human mind` .. by Penrose).

But we can squeeze the complexities and arrive at certain simple statements ..that do not contradict established truths ..and are in the domain of possibilities.

In the words of John Wheeler:

“In time to come, a single simple sentence will explain the strangeness of the Universe and as we say that sentence to each other we`ll say-Oh how beautiful- how could we have missed it all that time?“.



One such candidate for a single simple sentence is this :


Can any religion have a problem in accepting this?

Is this not a trump card that can unite Science and religion?

And where is the linkage to the subject of this blog?…

Will come back to these philosophical issues soon.

Coming back to Susy… I think its verification will require huge costs and fiscal limitations may come in the way for further research on the subject…(though it is true that even this huge cost is insignificant in comparison to what goes into the Military industrial complex built up by the Republicans) coupled with the fact that there is good chance of its falsification.

On the other hand research on Neutrinos may be worthwhile.

I have glanced through the `White paper` referred in the write –up.. Its complex …and highly specialized but one can make out …..its brilliant.

The task at hand is to squeeze the complexity…and so I look into the part that I can understand and which is relevant:

I refer to page 34 …on `EXTRA FORCE

“ Consider that 96% of the energy density of our Universe today resides in mysterious dark matter and dark energy, neither of which are comprised of standard model particles. It looks as if there are some hidden sectors ie fields which have not yet been discovered due to the extreme feebleness of their interactions with the fields of the standard model. Such sectors are ubiquitous in string-based constructions and theories with extra dimensions, and it is possible that the answer to the dark matter and/or dark energy puzzles resides in a hidden sector, which contains   one or more light fermions that manifests as a sterile neutrino or neutrinos that can mix with the neutrinos of the standard model. If such a hidden sector also contains at least one light boson which couples to the sterile neutrinos, sterile neutrino cosmology can be altered as well, in some cases alleviating the cosmological tension between more than one additional ultralight states or reconciling a large neutrino mass with cosmology or even contributing to dark matter or dark energy“ .

Back to philosophy… which some day…. when understood…will be physics:

If there is a hidden sector that can explain the 96 %… Then.. why not a hidden sector that can explain the `AWARENESS` of this 96 % and the `AWARENESS` of its interaction with the 4 %..

Why not a hidden sector that can explain `Mind and awareness`

Back to Neutrinos:

The number of neutrinos that leave the sun every second and travel in all directions is so huge that even if we identify a restricted location such as a human body…about a trillion of them pass through that human body every second. About how much time would a neutrino – moving at the speed of light – take to travel a distance about 15cm ie ..remain inside my body… I guess it can be worked out as 5 X 10^ -10 secs.   Now if a trillion of them are to pass through my body every second…it can be worked out that at any given instant of time ( about as short as planck time ) ..about 500 neutrinos are inside my body. But they all pass by ..none of them is a permanent resident.

Back again to philosophy ( ie Physics when understood ) :

But the `Mind` – that is contemplating all this is a permanent resident …at any given instant of time it is interacting with about 500 neutrinos…and then the same mind interacts with the next 500…and so on…And it’s the same mind that interacts with the atoms and molecules of the body through which the neutrinos pass through. Without this `Mind` I (inclusive of my brain ) am just an inanimate object, and the `I` in me gets its unique identity due to the unique sets of interactions of the rest of the universe on me….nothing more than that.

Now I correlate this with something I read in Chapter 3 ..`Physics and the mind` ..of the book `The large, the small, and the human mind`…by Roger Penrose :

“In some sense the `Physical world` emerges out of the `Mental world`.

Then there is the third world called the `World of culture` .. Could it be that the mental world is in some way emerging from the Physical world, and somehow culture arises out of `mentality`…Philosophers may not like the idea ..They may ask the question : `How could our feelings, our perception of redness, or of happiness have anything to do with Physics?

What about the `Platonic` world that tells us that there are mathematical concepts required to describe the Physical world. There is a feeling that these mathematical constructions are already there…and there is also the feeling that they are products of the human mind.“

Next, there is the question about `Human consciousness` … should we think about it in terms of scientific explanation. ? Roger Penrose is of the viewpoint that we should and I am inclined to agree.

With all this I end this response by reiterating that any `TOE` is incomplete if it does not take into account `Mind and consciousness`, that its Physics that deals with the subject and that the end of physics is nowhere in sight.

All in all a great article by Victor and some really nice and thought provoking comments by the readers.

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