To my untrained, unscientific ears this sounded very odd. What if the Wright brothers had declared that if they couldn’t fly a plane by 1904, it couldn’t be done? (They achieved this feat on Dec 17th 1903).
Then David (my beloved) came along and explained (he’s a physicist). Apparently they have done a lot of clever maths that says that if this particle is there to be found, it should be found within that time frame and therefore if they don’t find it, it most likely doesn’t exist.
As Martin, my vicar, later pointed out, the whole story is still a delightful case of having your cake and eating it. If they find the particle they will be over-joyed. If they don’t find it they will be even happier because then they get to dream up a whole new theory to account for not finding what they were looking for! Setting aside the fact that millions of dollars have gone into this exercise in ‘not-finding’, it’s truly a win/win situation for theoretical physicists who clearly ‘always look on the bright side of life’ – I knew there was a good reason for marrying one!
For further musings of an amateur on scientific subjects you might enjoy:
‘The God Particle’ http://wp.me/pOEoK-1E
‘Petaflops, Qubits and God’ http://wp.me/pOEoK-2G