Supersymmetry: many arbitrary mathematical assumptions. However, the

Supersymmetry: The Holy Grail or
Fools Gold?

Supersymmetry.
The sheer mention of this word can send shivers down a particle physicist’s
back. It is possibly the most important theory thought of in the last thirty
years and by proving it could help unlock secrets that currently elude us in
what seems to be a never-ending game of hide
and seek. But what is Supersymmetry and what does it show?

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Supersymmetry,
or SUSY for short, was first devised in 1966 by Hironari Miyazawa but has had
many modifications in the following twenty years and is a theory that links
gravity with the other fundamental forces by proposing a relationship between
two basic classes of fundamental particles; Fermions and Bosons. It exists
purely to resolve the conundrum that surrounds the Standard Model. This
explains all known fundamental particles and forces (void gravity which has its
own model called general relativity) and whilst the Standard Model works, it
relies on many arbitrary mathematical assumptions. However, the Standard Model
is considered as an incomplete model as there are many things that it cannot
explain. The first and most obvious is gravity as we mentioned earlier and the
whole area of dark matter which holds galaxies together.

Supersymmetry
is an extension of the Standard Model and fills in the gaps and attempts to
answer the questions that the Standard Model cannot. To do this however, it predicts every particle existent in
the Standard Model has a ‘missing’ counterpart. However, these partner
particles are not just opposites of the particles in the Standard Model, instead they are heavier and have a half unit
less than its normal counterpart. For example, the electron has a mass of
0.511Mev/c2 and ½ spin. However, its supersymmetric partner, the selectron, has a larger mass (currently unknown
although estimations have been made) and a spin of 0. These partner particles can
be used to explain phenomenon as
described later in this essay.

Figure 1: The
SUPERsymmetric partners of the fundamental particles

 

So why is Supersymmetry so important?

Well
if supersymmetry were confirmed it could help explain phenomenon which we currently have no answer to. First and
foremost, it could explain why the Higgs Boson, the God particle of Particle
Physics, is so light. The Standard Model predicted the existence of the Higgs
Boson, however its estimation of its mass
was slightly overzealous and when the
Boson was found in 2012 its mass was over a trillion times lighter than anyone
had predicted. The Higgs Boson (or more accurately the Higgs Field) is what
gives all other particles their mass and it should be extremely heavy due to
its interaction with so many particles. The supersymmetric partner particles rectify
this issue and the additional particles would cancel out their partners’
contribution to the Higgs mass. This explanation of why the Higgs is so light
is far preferable than changing the Standard Model itself as many believe that
to tweak a theory that works to fit a certain observation means that you do not
understand the concept and what you are changing is incorrect and leads to an
incomplete theory.

Furthermore,
Supersymmetry could explain dark matter, the elusive force that makes up 27% of
all matter in the universe. We know that dark matter is invisible, thus the
particles that comprise dark matter are neutral otherwise they would scatter
light and thus be visible. Dark matter is also inert and doesn’t react with any
other particle as if it did we would’ve been able to detect it at this point.
The lightest supersymmetric particle that is predicted fits both statements
about dark matter and many physicists believe that it is indeed dark matter
that Supersymmetry predicts.

Another
useful application of Supersymmetry is its confirmation of a possibility to
string theory being the universal theory that is that a main goal of physics.
As Einstein states: ‘Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not
simpler’. And this is a principle that physicists take in attempting to find a
universal theory. For example, we now understand the laws of magnetism and laws
of electricity can be merged into the fundamental force of electromagnetism
which can be further combined with weak interaction to form Electroweak
interaction (however this only occurs at extremely high temperatures, otherwise
they are separate). If it were possible to incorporate supersymmetric particles
into the Standard Model, it would bond three of the four fundamental forces
(electromagnetism, strong and weak force) and show that these forces have the
same strength at very high energy levels. This observation could also help
solve the hierarchy issue that exists in the Standard Model

Supersymmetry
is generally described as a step towards confirming string theory as in string
theory, some form of supersymmetry must exist. There is a theory of string
theory named Superstring Theory that uses the principle of supersymmetry to
combine all the fundamental forces and particles into one theory. It is a
version of string theory that accounts for both fermions and bosons and further
incorporates supersymmetry to model gravity. It is generally accepted as more
likely than bosonic string theory as is doesn’t use impossible tachyons and
only requires a permutation in ten dimensions, rather than twenty-six, which is
what bosonic string theory requires.

So how far are we from finding evidence for
Supersymmetry?

The
issue with detecting supersymmetric particles is that their increases mass
makes it more difficult for them to be detected in the LHC at any of the
detectors, however they should still be
sufficiently light enough to be detected. However, as of right now, despite
decades of searching for evidence of supersymmetry, there has been no
definitive answer to whether supersymmetry exists. However, many still hold
hope in supersymmetry describing it as too perfect to be incorrect.

Furthermore,
there are more complex supersymmetry theories that predict elements that the
LHC cannot make due to their mass. There are an endless supply of
supersymmetric theories and so to discount supersymmetry at this stage would be
a folly. Despite all this, the likely hood of supersymmetry does seem to be
lessening with each day. However, this is not unusual in physics. It is natural
for hypothesis and theories to be discounted to give rise to new and better
theories that may be correct; not limited to the multiverse theory and the
existence of parallel universes that follow different laws of physics. To
discredit supersymmetry certainly isn’t the end of particle physics and instead
is just another stepping stone in attempting to figure out the secrets of the
universe.