8/10/2007

MANY HAPPY RETURNS...TO ME















I'm headed back to work in a few days!


I'm afraid this view is definitely out-of-date, though. For one thing, I have snazzier Power Points now. For another, I've put on a few pounds. Also, like PZ Myers, I no longer wear ordinary clothes but am instead wearing the proper science attire.

Also---Blake, TL----I'm afraid the standard model of particle physics poster is now covered by a Harry Potter movie poster. Which is OK, because people are going to be reading Rowling a lot longer than we're going to keep using the standard model. No gravitons yet, and no gravity waves detected, but I have a (warning---unscientific alert!) feeling that the LHC and LIGO are going to knock some holes in the standard model.

Also, I just finished a systemic planning class and I have a few days to enjoy before going back to work on the 16th. The day before that I'll kick off my (hopefully) spirited exchange with blogger Vox Day. I think I get to go first because, you know, age before beauty.

Speaking of which, I just celebrated my birthday!

5 comments:

Blake Stacey said...

Well, if LIGO detects gravity waves, it won't affect particle physics very much, at least not at the beginning. We fully expect to see gravitational waves: they come out of Einstein's GR, in which we have some confidence, and so everybody is pretty sure that spotting them is "just" a technological challenge.

We might see physics beyond the Standard Model if some freaky stuff is happening out there in space, like subatomic strings stretched to intergalactic distances by cosmological inflation — and even in that case, the Standard Model will almost certainly continue to be a viable approximation for low-energy physics.

Kuhn notwithstanding, you don't really get "paradigm shifts" in physics: you get extensions, revisions and tweaks. When Einstein showed that Newton's equations didn't work for high speeds and extreme energies, Newton didn't lose his mastery over the billiard table.

The LHC will probably give us something truly weird to consider, but again, the common expectation is that the Standard Model will continue to be viable for solving many classes of problems.

After going through several pages of details about the Standard Model, Zwiebach's string theory textbook says the following:

The gauge group and the matter content of the Standard Model may seem to you rather intricate or perhaps even cumbersome. But this set of particles and interactions in fact provides a rather economical description of an extremely large number of experimental results obtained over the past few decades. The Standard Model of particle physics is indeed a magnificent achievement. It is not a final theory of particle physics, nor is it a complete one, but it seems certain that the Standard Model must appear in the low energy limit of any correct unified theory of all interactions. It is in this sense that the Standard Model of particle physics has become a permanent part of our knowledge about the physical world.

Blake Stacey said...

Oh, and happy birthday!

Scott Hatfield . . . said...

Blake, I agree that something like the Standard Model will likely be used as an approximation, just as Newtonian mechanics are still of use as limiting cases.

What if LIGO doesn't detect gravity waves?

Blake Stacey said...

Drinking. Very very heavy drinking.

Followed by a physics-wide hangover, and theorists going back to their blackboards.

Scott Hatfield . . . said...

And let's not forget, Blake, that it would also be tremendously exciting!