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"Wonderful, beautiful and unique" is how Gordon Kane describes supersymmetry theory. Kane, a theoretical physicist at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, has spent about 30 years working on supersymmetry, a theory that he and many others believe solves a host of problems with our understanding of the subatomic world.

Yet there is growing anxiety that the theory, however elegant it might be, is wrong. Data from the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), a 27-kilometer proton smasher that straddles the French-Swiss border near Geneva, Switzerland, have shown no sign of the "super particles" that the theory predicts. "We're painting supersymmetry into a corner," says Chris Lester, a particle physicist at the University of Cambridge, UK, who works with the LHC's ATLAS detector. Along with the LHC's Compact Muon Solenoid experiment, ATLAS has spent the past year hunting for super particles, and is now set to gather more data when the LHC begins a high-power run in the next few weeks. If the detectors fail to find any super particles by the end of the year, the theory could be in serious trouble.

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"A beautiful theory can be murdered by an ugly fact." - attributed to Richard Feynman. -- comment by Jack Sarfatti
Category: Science