24 August 2016

Supersymmetry bet settled at NBIA workshop

During a meeting at the Niels Bohr Institute in 2000 a Supersymmetry Wager was passed around among the participants: Would supersymmetry be discovered at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN before 2010? When most of the scientists who had participated in the bet returned to Copenhagen for an NBIA workshop in 2011, the construction of the LHC had been delayed for various reasons. In all fairness, the winning side of the bet decided that it should be prolonged for another five years.

Moreover, everybody was allowed to change side on the bet! (Interestingly, few did.) During the NBIA workshop 'Current Themes in High Energy Physics and Cosmology 2016', which is part of this fall's Simons Program, the bet was finally settled on Monday, Aug. 22. The session started with Gerard 't Hooft presenting the history of the wager, and his reasons for putting his name on the "no" side of the bet.

Then, Stephen Hawking, who had not been present when the bets were made, was given the opportunity to state what he would have bet on if he had been present at the meeting in 2000: he would also have put his name on the "no" side. Nima Arkani-Hamed, who had signed on the "yes" side of the bet, described his reasons for doing so, and gave the broader perspective on what might still be in store for us regarding supersymmetry when much more data will be pouring in over the coming years. Conceding defeat at this point, Nima Arkani-Hamed handed over a bottle of cognac to the winning side. In  a subsequent panel discussion, David Gross, Nima Arkani-Hamed, Yonit Hochberg and David Shih expressed their views on the future possibilities of observing supersymmetry at the LHC.

The whole session was streamed live from the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters. A recording can be found here.