Theoretical physicist Sabine Hossenfelder is optimistic about the future of her field, seeing many potential avenues of exploration. Questions about the nature of dark matter, dark energy, zero-point energy, quantum gravity, the measurement problem in quantum mechanics, all present fascinating puzzles for physicists to untangle.
But she also warns that we may have reached the “nightmare scenario” in a particular branch of the discipline: particle physics.
The problem? The best theories imply that there may be no more new elementary particles left to discover.
It’s a potentially devastating conclusion for a particle physicist. There would be no game-changing discoveries on the horizon for the field, no more major eureka moments that transform careers and alter the course of scientific history.
This problem, Hossenfelder argues, also undermines the case for the newly proposed particle collider from CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research.