“Reality is what kicks back when you kick it. This is just what physicists do with their particle accelerators. We kick reality and feel it kick back. From the intensity and duration of thousands of those kicks over many years, we have formed a coherent theory of matter and forces, called the standard model, that currently agrees with all observations.” -Victor J. Stenger
Over the past month, four big experiments looking for new physics have announced their latest results, and all four have come up empty. At the LHC, ATLAS and CMS failed to confirm the existence of a new particle, leaving us with only the Standard Model. At LUX, the most sensitive dark matter search failed to detect anything new. At IceCube, evidence for a sterile neutrino evaporated. And at CERN’s MoEDAL experiment, magnetic monopoles failed to show up.
This might seem like a defeat for physicists, but it’s anything but! The Standard Model and General Relativity emerged victorious again, making them the most successful physical theories of all time, having passed test after test robustly and rigorously. There are still mysteries out there waiting to be uncovered, but we’re going to have to dig a lot deeper if we want to do it.