Back to my hotel room after the daily session, I wrote a blog post (my blog was back then hosted by wordpress) where I challenged my colleagues to wager real money on the future discovery of new physics that to many of them the LHC would soon provide. In 2006, let me remind you, almost everybody was sold to the idea that Supersymmetry was about to pester the ATLAS and CMS triggers with flamboyant cascade decays of squarks, gluinos, neutralinos, and whatnotinos. But not me. I believed the LHC would soon find the Higgs boson (it did), and I believed it would *not* find any hint of new physics beyond the Standard Model (it did not).
The history of that wager can be summarized in a line: I won $1000 against Gordon Watts and Jacques Distler, who collectively bet in favour of new physics would be discovered after LHC would collect 10 inverse femtobarns of collisions. I was not happy of cashing the money, mind you - I had originally conceived my bet, at least in part, as an insurance bet. I would have been much happier of losing it!, for I would have then had the privilege of being among the authors of a groundbreaking discovery.
Fast-forward to 2021, and the situation is only partly different. The LHC does promise to multiply its datasets by a large factor in the next few years, and already the datasets still waiting to be analyzed promise a wealth of new information in a number of new physics searches. However, the Standard Model still stands strong, and the general feeling of theorists and experimentalists alike is that it is probably going to keep standing for a while longer.
Still, I overheard in some tweets today that some 10% of my LHCb colleagues do believe that their 3-sigma measurement of a departure from unity of the R_k parameter -something that should equal exactly one-point-zero if weak interactions treat in the same way leptons of different flavours- is bound to soon become a discovery of a violation of lepton universality.
What to do? I have always preached that people should demonstrate their good faith by putting their money where their mouth is. So here it is, a challenge to my LHCb colleagues - but at the same time, to any colleague who thinks ze knows better.
I am hereby offering a US $1000 bet on the following stipulation: Within the next 5 years, no LHC experiment will publish a scientific article claiming that lepton universality has been conclusively disproven. As this bet is based on a virtual handshake between gentlemen/women, I cannot take on random individuals from the web, so the person who agrees on this stipulation must be a recognized academic - a colleague, in other words, who would lose his face if he or she were to not honor the bet, in case I won. Also, the adjudication of the bet shall be determined by three sages, to be identified among authoritative members of the community (I won't try to put names down until this flies).