Non-particle physics

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The title refers not to some ethereal thought experiment with antimatter, but rather to the existence of ‘physics’ outside of the realms of high-energy physics. The Incoherent Ponderer was upset with the recent Scientific American special report on The Future of Physics which seemed to focus exclusively on terascale/LHC physics:

I guess I am tired of arrogant statements like "physics" = "high energy
physics", which is how a lot of popular media characterizes it. The
irony, however, is that with ILC construction in serious peril, and
with LHC not even operational yet (unclear what, if anything, they will
find) – the REAL "future of physics" is arguably with biophysics,
condensed matter or "materials" physics and AMO. I would expect that
large particle collider experiments being phased out, with more useful
data coming from cosmology (=astronomy).

At the same time, experiments in low-energy physics (condensed
matter, optical, molecular, biophysics, materials and chemical physics)
will continue to ramp up at an increasing rate.

It will be interesting to see how the proportion of students opting for a career in high-energy physics changes with the LHC switch-on and the potential non-appearance of the ILC over the coming 10 years.  

  • ccphysicist

    I believe that the AIP data for MS degrees, shown in figure 14 of their most recent report are consistent with a large exodus of students from HEP right after the cancellation of the SSC. There is no breakdown of fields, but it would seem to be more than a coincidence.