It’s the middle of June, and the Cornell Cinema summer season rapidly approaches — a fantastic time when all the cinema staff work twice as often to provide you with filmic entertainment even more obscure than usual. We reopen on this Sunday (the 17th) and run through the first week of August. Readers who live in Ithaca should come, and those who don’t, well, sorry.

Highlights:

  • Cinema under the Stars: Two special outdoor screenings on the Willard Straight terrace — The Triplets of Belleville (June 28) and To Have and Have Not (July 12). A lovely way to spend a languid summer evening. I hear there is some form of cash bar, but bring your own snacks, and arrive early for good seats. Video purists note: these will be video projections, not film. Also, if you deeply care about this fact, you suck.
  • Old-ish Things: beyond the aforementioned To Have and Have
    Not
    , there will be Psycho, Lattuada’s Mafioso, Godard’s Two or Three Things I Know About Her, and, uh, Thelma and Louise.
  • In Case You Missed It: Pan’s Labyrinth, Letters From Iwo Jima, 300, Hot Fuzz.
  • This Sounds Interesting: Reviewers seem to have gone gaga over Black Snake Moan, and the review has the phrase “cure her hysterical nymphomania.” Red Road is a noir thriller involving the British closed-circuit camera obsession. The Lives of Others makes the point that life wasn’t really all that fantastic in East Germany. Any comedy described as “Jim Jarmusch meets Aki Kaurismaki” (Whiskey) sounds perfect, if you’re into empathetic cringing.

On the strength of totally unverified rumors (propagated by yours truly), Slate tells us that particle physicists are all hoping that the Higgs hasn’t been found at DØ, because otherwise the LHC would have been built for nothing:

That’s why particle physicists, and the EU member states that have spent Nepal’s annual GDP to build this accelerator, are hoping that no one, in Chicago or Switzerland, finds the Higgs. The future of high-energy physics lies with the small chance that the standard model is wrong, and something exotic happens at LHC energies.

Partial credit. In a sense the future of HEP as an experimental science does depend on the Standard Model being wrong. If nothing other than a SM Higgs appears at the TeV energy scale, it will be very difficult to answer the outstanding issues of the model (such as the famous “naturalness” problem of why the Higgs mass would be so low compared to the natural scale of gravity).

However: if the rumors are proven true, then the Standard Model is wrong (and wrong in a deep way, too, unlike the hacks used to add neutrino masses). I can’t say this strongly enough: THE SUPPOSED DØ PARTICLE CAN NOT BE THE STANDARD MODEL HIGGS. The cross section (the rate at which the particles are made) is much too high. All the theoretial interpretations I’ve heard invoke supersymmetry — in particular the so-called Minimal Supersymmetric Standard Model (MSSM) — to increase the production rate for their Higgs equivalent enough that DØ could have detected it. To explain the fact that DØ sees a signal at all, you need non-Standard Model physics.

The Higgs and the MSSM are not incompatible. In fact, in one of its particle-multiplying feats, the MSSM demands five physical Higgs bosons (generally, for each particle we know of, it gives you one or two new ones to look for). Discovering the MSSM, while a little conventional (in the sense that the scenario’s implications have been pored over by lots of theorists for a couple of decades now), would be the opposite of a disaster for particle physics, and the LHC would have a lot to do. It’s actually quite difficult to get rid of the Higgs in reasonable models of any kind, so the mere existence of a Higgs-type particle doesn’t tell you much; you have to look at any candidate carefully to distinguish between models.

Bottom line: If the DØ signal is real, it’s physics beyond the Standard Model. If so, it’s extremely likely that additional phenomena will be revealed by the LHC, and we will get our money’s worth.