Michael Dine (Santa Cruz) has a very nice article in the December issue of Physics Today:
He sketches some basic facts about the physics research that is expected to be relevant for the observations at the new collider. So you are offered some basic knowledge about the Standard Model and physics beyond the Standard Model, especially what has become stringy physics such as supersymmetry, grand unification, large extra dimensions, and warped extra dimensions. But he also talks about technicolor, CP violation, dark energy, and other things. You may read a pretty decent basic explanation of the concept of moduli and the character of the stringy landscape as well as the new tools to predict physical phenomena that it has led to.
One of his goals is to correct massive misinformation about a "gap" in particle physics that is being produced by the blogosphere and by the media that are close to the blogosphere. One basic thing that the "critics of science" haven't told their undemanding readers about high-energy physics is that among the theorists, there are two comparably large groups of people: pure theorists and phenomenologists. Phenomenologists who like to post on their favorite hep-ph archive are always interested in experiments that are doable in a foreseeable future, regardless whether their understanding is fully accurate, justified, and complete, while pure theorists who like to post on hep-th focus on ideas that are firmly rooted theoretically, regardless of their immediate relevance for doable experiments.
These are two theoretical approaches to high-energy physics that have been competing for quite some time but there is no inpenetrable gap in between them: it is rather a kind of continuum and many physicists are often switching from one mode of thinking to another. Michael Dine himself is a living example of this fact because he is one of the most solid bridges between hep-ph and hep-th.
The fuzzy border between pure theory and phenomenology is penetrable and the equilibrium between these two approaches is determined by the invisible hand of the market of ideas where scientists are both producers and consumers, not by media campaigns, intimidation, public votes, or undereducated but loud science-haters from the blogosphere. The opinion that one could social-engineer the ratio between different approaches to pretty much the same scientific topics "from above" is an artifact of an ultracommunist mode of thinking and doesn't belong to science.
And how does the equilibrium look like?
As Michael Dine makes very clear, the phenomenological approach usually ends up with random ideas and speculations that are not justified by any deeper fundamental reasons: many papers from the hep-ph archive are random constructions that someone just found interesting enough. This approach may lead to successes at many points of the development of physics but it is just a fact that in the last 20 years, the purely theoretical - one could say "Einsteinian" - approach has been much more successful because of the constant stream of solid and exciting conceptual results as well as new ideas for model building that have been coming out of string theory.
There is nothing universally better about one approach or another and when we are overwhelmed by new confusing data - and the LHC may lead to exactly this situation - the relative importance of phenomenology over pure theory may increase. But that's not where we stand at the end of 2007. Right now, it is extremely important for an idea about new physics to be reconciled with the solid cutting-edge picture of reality that is available, namely with string theory. In the absence of doable tests, this is pretty much the most important criterion that decides whether an otherwise conceivable idea is worth research or not.
And that's the memo.