Monday, June 11, 2007

A Harvard physicist proposes " Unparticle physics".

And as long as we are on the frontiers of theoretical physics, experimental geneticists have reached the point of designing artificial life. Top that, I say.

Comments:

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Mark,

This is a logical evolution of the "particle-wave duality" postulated in quantum physics. The "wave" characteristics are indisputable -- teenage physics students confirm this with a diffraction grating experiment. And the particulate properties are evident in our macroscopic world.

While I've never been a fan of mathematical solutions (e.g., the 10-D "superstrings" that have enough variables to account for observed phenomena), the notion of scale-invariance is appealing -- particularly in an expanding universe.

I was amused to see the reference to neutrinos in the link to Georgi's site -- as an undergrad intern at Lawrence Livermore National Lab, I was part of a project to measure the rest mass of the electron antineutrino (it helped lower the "upper limit" of the mass, but never established an exact value). Neutrinos were thought to be the solution to the "dark matter" problem, which recently gave way to the idea of "dark energy".

This "unparticle solution" may be a step closer to understanding the structure of our universe -- and help account for the puzzle of the gravitational force. We may find out that our macroscopic assumptions of matter and energy are only partially right -- just as Newton's laws of motion are only partially right, but become exact with the addition of Einstein's relativity and a Lorentz tranformation.

Best,

shane

This is a logical evolution of the "particle-wave duality" postulated in quantum physics. The "wave" characteristics are indisputable -- teenage physics students confirm this with a diffraction grating experiment. And the particulate properties are evident in our macroscopic world.

While I've never been a fan of mathematical solutions (e.g., the 10-D "superstrings" that have enough variables to account for observed phenomena), the notion of scale-invariance is appealing -- particularly in an expanding universe.

I was amused to see the reference to neutrinos in the link to Georgi's site -- as an undergrad intern at Lawrence Livermore National Lab, I was part of a project to measure the rest mass of the electron antineutrino (it helped lower the "upper limit" of the mass, but never established an exact value). Neutrinos were thought to be the solution to the "dark matter" problem, which recently gave way to the idea of "dark energy".

This "unparticle solution" may be a step closer to understanding the structure of our universe -- and help account for the puzzle of the gravitational force. We may find out that our macroscopic assumptions of matter and energy are only partially right -- just as Newton's laws of motion are only partially right, but become exact with the addition of Einstein's relativity and a Lorentz tranformation.

Best,

shane

Hi Shane,

*"This "unparticle solution" may be a step closer to understanding the structure of our universe -- and help account for the puzzle of the gravitational force. We may find out that our macroscopic assumptions of matter and energy are only partially right -- just as Newton's laws of motion are only partially right, but become exact with the addition of Einstein's relativity and a Lorentz tranformation."*

I think you clarified that very well, thank you! I hadn't realized String theory was down to ten dimensions now either ( wasn't it originally calculated at something fantastic, like 24 or 26 dimensions? Am I remembering that correctly ?)

I think you clarified that very well, thank you! I hadn't realized String theory was down to ten dimensions now either ( wasn't it originally calculated at something fantastic, like 24 or 26 dimensions? Am I remembering that correctly ?)

Hi Mark,

The first string theory ("Bosonic Strings") had 26 spacetime dimensions -- and "tachyons", particles with imaginary mass that travel faster than the speed of light. All "superstring" theories ("super" in that they achieve "supersymmetry" between mass and energy) call for 10 dimensions to account for various fluctuations in string positions.

Of course, I could never do the tensor analysis or the vector calculus to confirm these calculations myself.... :-)

The first string theory ("Bosonic Strings") had 26 spacetime dimensions -- and "tachyons", particles with imaginary mass that travel faster than the speed of light. All "superstring" theories ("super" in that they achieve "supersymmetry" between mass and energy) call for 10 dimensions to account for various fluctuations in string positions.

Of course, I could never do the tensor analysis or the vector calculus to confirm these calculations myself.... :-)

Gracias, Shane!

You may be interested in the following from Von who emailed this in:

**"Hi Mark,**

I was trying to post a comment but could not:

"Superstrings has actually transformed into 'M-theory,' after some work by Ed Witten, and the supersymmetry that Shane mentions allows for 11 dimensions (10 spatial and 1 for time).

It is a hot area of study right now to find alternatives to any type of string theory since, despite 30 years of work, has produced no tangible predictions that can be tested experimentally. However, one interesting set of tests everyone is waiting for with the commissioning of the LHC at CERN is particle searches for supersymmetric (SUSY) particles...the theory predicts that there are essentially a doubling of particles. I'll need to look at other theories like the one you found here, Mark, to see what they say about SUSY particles. If they turn out to be real, that becomes a feather in hat of a susperstring/M-theory model, for example. Other areas of interest include searching for the Higgs boson/field, what 'dark matter' might be, as well as so-called 'dark energy' (sort of an anti-gravity type force, which may help explain why some galaxies are accelerating away from us). One can have a lot of fun with theory, but we need some experimentation to help guide the way at this point, and see which mathematical models carry any reality, rather than just elegance.

One thing we do know is that the standard model, or present well-tested theory of the subatomic world, is incomplete at some level, largely because it does not include gravity and also has numerous parameters inserted by hand. There is almost certainly some new physics out there, and we do need to find the new 'relativity to Newtonian mechanics.' "

Dang. Makes me glad I'm just a poor student of history ;o)

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You may be interested in the following from Von who emailed this in:

I was trying to post a comment but could not:

"Superstrings has actually transformed into 'M-theory,' after some work by Ed Witten, and the supersymmetry that Shane mentions allows for 11 dimensions (10 spatial and 1 for time).

It is a hot area of study right now to find alternatives to any type of string theory since, despite 30 years of work, has produced no tangible predictions that can be tested experimentally. However, one interesting set of tests everyone is waiting for with the commissioning of the LHC at CERN is particle searches for supersymmetric (SUSY) particles...the theory predicts that there are essentially a doubling of particles. I'll need to look at other theories like the one you found here, Mark, to see what they say about SUSY particles. If they turn out to be real, that becomes a feather in hat of a susperstring/M-theory model, for example. Other areas of interest include searching for the Higgs boson/field, what 'dark matter' might be, as well as so-called 'dark energy' (sort of an anti-gravity type force, which may help explain why some galaxies are accelerating away from us). One can have a lot of fun with theory, but we need some experimentation to help guide the way at this point, and see which mathematical models carry any reality, rather than just elegance.

One thing we do know is that the standard model, or present well-tested theory of the subatomic world, is incomplete at some level, largely because it does not include gravity and also has numerous parameters inserted by hand. There is almost certainly some new physics out there, and we do need to find the new 'relativity to Newtonian mechanics.' "

Dang. Makes me glad I'm just a poor student of history ;o)

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