Future challenges

The exciting challenges for the future in particle physics include the following:

  • Finding anything that make up the current "elementary" particles. Although the present consensus view is that there is not anything smaller than quarks and leptons, it remains a possibility and such hypothetical particles have been named "preons"
  • Detecting the particle that carries gravity i.e. the graviton (which is believed to be massless, to  have no charge and to have a spin of -2).
  • Finding a new set of particles, supporting the "supersymmetry theory". Supersymmetry (SUSY) is essentially an extension to the Standard Model that aims to fill in some of the gaps (e.g. to explain why the mass of the Higgs boson is not much, much greater than it actually is). It involves a hypothetical extra set of particles:

  • Finding out where most of the antimatter has gone (as there is far less, it seems, than would be expected)
  • Explaining the "CP violation" (see separate page)
  • Understanding the "hierarchy problem" i.e. why the detected particle masses are not far far greater than they are. The current laws of physics would predict the particle masses to be around 1019GeV/c2 while even the Higgs boson and top quark appear to have masses that are far lower.

    Image from Liverpool Particles Physics Group

  • Understanding dark matter and identifying the particles of which it is made and understanding dark energy (which, together with dark matter, constitute most of the universe) 
Computed simulation of large scale formation of clusters by a "cold dark matter" model (an extension of the big bang model): animated GIF  image by: Andrey Kravtsov (University of Chicago) and Anatoly Klypin (New Mexico State University) via Wikimedia Commons. The size of the box represents a space that is 140 million light years across. The growth of structures in the earliest fraction of a second, in the origins of the universe, is thought to have been governed by dark matter.