Abstract

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is one of the largest experiments ever built. From the beginning it was pursuing a twofold agenda, to find the last remaining particle of the Standard Model (SM), the Higgs boson, and to search for any particles beyond the SM. In this paper I argue that this has effective led to the coexistence of a crucial experiment and explorative experimentation. To this end, I interpret the notion of crucial experiment in a sense appropriate to contemporary large scale and complex experiments. By embedding the LHC into the tradition of previous precision experiments and the experimental strategies thus established, Duhemian underdetermination is kept at bay. While in this instance the LHC was testing a well-established model, the searches for physics beyond the SM have increasingly become model-independent and driven by the exploration of signatures. Signatures, roughly speaking, are the stable end products of a scattering event. Signatures, I shall argue, are not raw data, but correspond to phenomena in the sense of Bogen and Woodward. They are constituted independently of models but are to be explained by them. This results in a many-to-many relation between signatures and models that allows experimenters to pursue simultaneously model-driven and signature-driven analyses.