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A little over a year ago, physicists put the finishing touches to the most successful scientific theory of all time: the Standard Model of particle physics. When the Higgs boson was found at the Large Hadron Collider in July 2012, it was the final piece in our picture of the universe at the smallest, subatomic scales.

Champagne corks flew in physics labs around the world at this vindication of quantum field theory, which had been more than 80 years and dozens of Nobel prizes in the making.

Inevitably, a hangover followed. The leading idea for how to push physics beyond the Standard Model – and explain the many remaining mysteries of the universe – is looking shaky. Thousands of physicists have spent their career carefully constructing the theory, called supersymmetry. It has taken almost four decades. But, so far, the most powerful particle accelerator ever built – the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at Cern, near Geneva – has not found any hard evidence to back up the theory.

This conspicuous lack of proof has led a growing number of physicists, particularly those who are less invested in supersymmetry, to publicly call time on the idea. Perhaps, despite all the work, the theory is just plain wrong.

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