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  • richardmitnick 10:29 am on November 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "A Model of Leptons", , , , Dr. Steven Weinberg, , ,   

    From CERN: “50 years since iconic ‘A Model of Leptons’ published” 

    Cern New Bloc

    Cern New Particle Event

    CERN New Masthead

    CERN

    20 Nov 2017
    Harriet Kim Jarlett

    1
    This event shows the real tracks produced in the 1200 litre Gargamelle bubble chamber that provided the first confirmation of a neutral current interaction. (Image: CERN)

    4
    Gargamelle

    1
    Steven Weinberg

    Today, 50 years ago, Steven Weinberg published the iconic paper A Model of Leptons [Physical Review Letters], which explains the profound link between mathematics and nature.

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    https://www.manhattanrarebooks.com/pages/books/222/steven-weinberg/a-model-of-leptons

    This paper lies at the core of the Standard Model, our most complete theory of how particles interact in our universe.

    The Standard Model of elementary particles (more schematic depiction), with the three generations of matter, gauge bosons in the fourth column, and the Higgs boson in the fifth.

    Just two pages long, Weinberg’s elegant and simply written theory was revolutionary at the time, yet was virtually ignored for many years. But now, it is cited at least three times a week.

    The paper uses the idea of symmetry – that everything in our universe has a corresponding mirror image – between particles called pions to build Weinberg’s theory of the fundamental forces.

    From 1965 Weinberg had been building a mathematical structure and theorems based on this symmetry that explained why physicists had observed certain interactions between pions and nucleons and how pions behave when they are scattered from one another. This paved the way for a whole theory of hadronic physics at low energy.

    ____________________________________________________________________________
    “It’s what keeps you going as a theoretical physicist to hope that one of your squiggles will turn out to describe reality.”
    Steven Weinberg, Nobel prize winner and author of A Model of Leptons
    ____________________________________________________________________________

    Physicists had been using the concept of symmetry since the 1930’s, but had not yet been able to unite the electromagnetic and weak forces. Uniting the two forces would bring physicists closer to a single theory describing how and why all the fundamental interactions in our universe occur. The mathematics needed the particles carrying these two forces to be massless, but Weinberg and other physicists knew that if the particles really created these forces in nature, they had to be very heavy.

    One day, as the 34-year-old Weinberg was driving his red Camero to work, he had a flash of insight – he had been looking for massless particles in the wrong place. He applied his theory to a rarely mentioned and often disregarded particle, the massive W boson, and paired it with a massless photon. Theorists accounted for the mass of the W by introducing another unseen mechanism. This later became known as the Higgs mechanism, which calls for the existence of a Higgs boson.

    Proving the validity of Weinberg’s theory inspired one of the biggest experimental science programmes ever seen and CERN has built major projects with these discoveries at their heart: the Gargamelle bubble chamber found the first evidence of the electroweak current in 1973; the Super Proton Synchrotron showed, in 1982, the first evidence of the W boson; and most recently the Large Hadron Collider, in 2012, confirmed the existence of the Higgs Boson.

    CERN Super Proton Synchrotron

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    CERN ATLAS Higgs Event


    CERN/ATLAS detector

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    Steven Weinberg visiting the ATLAS collaboration in 2009. (Image: Maximilien Brice/CERN)

    Speaking to the CERN Courier Weinberg, now 84, describes what it’s like to see his work confirmed: “It’s what keeps you going as a theoretical physicist to hope that one of your squiggles will turn out to describe reality.” He received the Nobel Prize for this iconic, game-changing theory in 1979.

    Half a century after this publication, it’s hard to find a theory that explains fundamental physics as clearly as Weinberg’s, which brought together all the different pieces of the puzzle and assembled them into one, very simple idea.

    Read more about the original theory, and an interview with Steven Weinberg in this month’s CERN Courier.

    See the full article here.

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  • richardmitnick 5:03 pm on October 13, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Dr. Steven Weinberg, ,   

    From CERN Courier: “Birth of a symmetry” 


    CERN Courier

    Oct 13, 2017
    Frank Close

    1
    Model of Leptons

    Half a century ago, Steven Weinberg spent the summer at Cape Cod, working on a new theory of the strong interaction of pions.

    1
    Steven Weinberg

    By October 1967, the idea had morphed into a theory of the weak and electromagnetic interactions, and the following month he published a paper that would revolutionise our understanding of the fundamental forces.

    Weinberg’s paper “A Model of Leptons”, published in Physical Review Letters (PRL) on 20 November 1967, determined the direction of high-energy particle physics through the final decades of the 20th century. Just two and a half pages long, it is one of the most highly cited papers in the history of theoretical physics. Its contents are the core of the Standard Model of particles physics, now almost half a century old and still passing every experimental test.

    Most particle physicists today have grown up with the Standard Model’s orderly account of the fundamental particles and interactions, but things were very different in the 1960s.

    The Standard Model of elementary particles (more schematic depiction), with the three generations of matter, gauge bosons in the fourth column, and the Higgs boson in the fifth.

    Quantum electrodynamics (QED) had been well established as the description of the electromagnetic interaction, but there were no mature theories of the strong and weak nuclear forces. By the 1960s, experimental discoveries showed that the weak force exhibits some common features with QED, in particular that it might be mediated by a vector boson analogous to the photon. Theoretical arguments also suggested that QED’s underlying “U(1)” group structure could be generalised to the larger group SU(2), but there was a serious problem with such a scheme: the W boson suspected to mediate the weak force would have to be very massive empirically, whereas the mathematical symmetry of the theory required it to be massless like the photon.

    The importance of symmetries in understanding the fundamental forces was already becoming clear at the time, in particular how nature might hide its symmetries. Could “hidden symmetry” lead to a massive W boson while preserving the mathematical consistency of the theory? It was arguably Weinberg’s developments, in 1967, that brought this concept to life.

    Strong inspiration

    Weinberg’s inspiration was an earlier idea of [Yoichiro] Nambu in which fermions – such as the proton or neutron – can behave like a left- or right-handed screw as they move. If mass is ignored, these two “chiral” states act independently and the theory leads to the existence of a particle with properties similar to those of the pion – specifically a pseudoscalar, which means that it has no spin and its wavefunction changes sign under mirror symmetry. Nambu’s original investigations, however, had not examined how the three versions of the pion, with positive, negative or zero charge, shared their common “pion-ness” when interacting with one another. This commonality, or symmetry, is mathematically expressed by the group SU(2), which had been known in nuclear physics since the 1930s and in mathematics for much longer.

    It was this symmetry that Weinberg used as his point of departure in building a theory of the strong force, where nucleons interact with pions of all charges and the proton and neutron themselves form two “faces” of the underlying SU(2) structure. Empirical observations of the interactions between pions and nucleons showed that the underlying symmetry of SU(2) tended to act on the left- or right-handed chiral possibilities independently. The mathematical structure of the resulting equations to describe this behaviour, as Weinberg discovered, is called SU(2)×SU(2).

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    Original manuscript

    However, in nature this symmetry is not perfect because nucleons have mass. Had they been massless, they would have travelled at the speed of light, the left- and right-handed possibilities acting truly independently of one another and the symmetry left intact. That nucleons have a mass, so that the left and right states get mixed up when perceived by observers in different inertial frames, breaks the chiral symmetry. Nambu had investigated this effect as far back as 1959, but without the added richness of the SU(2)×SU(2) mathematical structure that Weinberg brought to the problem. Weinberg had been investigating this more sophisticated theory in around 1965, initially with considerable success. He derived theorems that explained the observed interactions of pions and nucleons at low energies, such as in nuclear physics. He was able to predict how pions behaved when they scattered from one another and, with a few well-defined assumptions, paved the way for a whole theory of hadronic physics at low energies.

    Meanwhile, in 1964, Brout and Englert, Higgs, Kibble, Guralnik and Hagen had demonstrated that the vector bosons of a Yang–Mills theory (one that is like QED but where attributes such as electric charge can be exchanged by the vector bosons themselves) put forward a decade earlier could become massive without spoiling the fundamental gauge symmetry. This “mass-generating mechanism” suggested that a complete Yang–Mills theory of the strong interaction might be possible. In addition to the well-known pion, examples of massive vector particles that feel the strong force had already been found, notably the rho-meson. Like the pion, this too occurs in three charged varieties: positive, negative and zero. Superficially these rho-mesons had the hallmarks of being the gauge bosons of the strong interactions, but they also have mass. Was the strong interaction the theatre for applying the mass-generating mechanism?

    Despite at first seeming so promising, the idea failed to fit the data. For some phenomena, the SU(2)×SU(2) symmetry empirically is broken, but for others where spin didn’t matter it works perfectly. When these patterns were incorporated into the maths, the rho-meson stubbornly remained massless, contrary to reality.

    Epiphany on the road

    In the middle of September 1967, while driving his red Camaro to work at MIT, Weinberg realised that he had been applying the right ideas to the wrong problem. Instead of the strong interactions, for which the SU(2)×SU(2) idea refused to work, the massless photon and the hypothetical massive W boson of the electromagnetic and weak interactions fitted perfectly with this picture. To call this possibility “hypothetical” hardly does justice to the time: the W boson was not discovered until 1984, and in 1967 was so disregarded as to receive at best a passing mention, if any, in textbooks.

    Weinberg needed a concrete model to illustrate his general idea. The numerous strongly interacting hadrons that had been discovered in the 1950s and 1960s were, for him, a quagmire, so he restricted his attention to the electron and neutrino. Here too it is worth recalling the state of knowledge at the time. The constituent quark model with three flavours – up, down and strange – had been formulated in 1964, but was widely disregarded. The experiments at SLAC that would help establish these constituents were a year away from announcing their results, and Bjorken’s ideas of a quark model, articulated at conferences that summer, were not yet widely accepted either. Finally, with only three flavours of quark, Weinberg’s ideas would lead to empirically unwanted “strangeness-changing neutral currents”. All these problems would eventually be solved, but in 1967 Weinberg made a wise choice to focus on leptons and leave quarks well alone.

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    Proving validity

    Following the discovery of parity violation in the 1950s, it was clear that the electron can spin like a left- or right-handed screw, whereas the massless neutrino is only left-handed. The left–right symmetry, which had been a feature of the strong interaction, was gone. Instead of two SU(2), the mathematics now only needed one, the second being replaced by the unitary group U(1). So Weinberg set up the equations of SU(2)×U(1) – the same structure that, unknown to him, had been proposed by Sheldon Glashow in 1961 and by Abdus Salam and John Ward in 1964 in attempts to marry the electromagnetic and weak interactions. His theory, like theirs, required two massive electrically charged bosons – the W+ and W– carriers of the weak force – and two neutral bosons: the massless photon and a massive Z0. If correct, it would show that the electromagnetic and weak forces are unified, taking physics a step closer to the goal of a single theory of all fundamental interactions.

    “The history of attempts to unify weak and electromagnetic interactions is very long, and will not be reviewed here.” So began the first footnote in Steven Weinberg’s seminal November 1967 paper, which led to him being awarded the 1979 Nobel Prize in Physics with Salam and Glashow. Weinberg’s footnote mentioned Fermi’s primitive idea for unification in 1934, and also the model that Glashow proposed in 1961.

    Clarity of thought

    Weinberg started his paper by articulating the challenge of unifying the electroweak forces as both an opportunity and a threat. He focused on the leptons – those fermions, such as the electron and neutrino, which do not feel the strong force. “Leptons interact only with photons, and with the [weak] bosons that presumably mediate weak interactions. What could be more natural than to unite these spin-one bosons [the photon and the weak bosons] into a multiplet,” he pondered. That was the opportunity. The threat was that “standing in the way of this synthesis are the obvious differences in the masses of the photon and [weak] boson.”

    Weinberg then suggests a solution: perhaps “the symmetries relating the weak and electromagnetic interactions are exact [at a fundamental level] but are [hidden in practice]”. He then draws attention to the ideas of Higgs, Brout, Englert, Guralnik, Hagen and Kibble, and uses these to give masses to the W and Z in his model. In a further important insight, Weinberg shows how this symmetry-breaking mechanism leaves the photon massless.

    His opening paragraph ended with the prescient observation that: “The model may be renormalisable.” The argument upon which this remark is based appears at the very end of the paper, although with somewhat less confidence than the promise hinted at the beginning. He begins the final paragraph with a question: “Is this model renormalisable?” The extent of his intuition is revealed in his argument: although the presence of a massive vector boson hitherto had been a scourge, the theory with which he had begun had no such mass and, as such, was “probably renormalisable”. So, he pondered: “The question is whether this renormalisablity is lost [by the spontaneous breaking of the symmetry].” And the conclusion: “If this model is renormalisable, what happens when we extend it…to the hadrons?”

    By speculating that his model may be renormalisable, Weinberg was hugely prescient, as ’t Hooft and Veltman would prove four years later. And perhaps it was a chance encounter at the Solvay Congress in Belgium two weeks before his paper was submitted that helped convince Weinberg that he was on the right track.

    Solvay secrets

    By the end of September 1967, Weinberg had his ideas in place as he set off to Belgium to attend the 14th Solvay Congress on Fundamental Problems in Elementary Particle Physics, held in Brussels from 2 to 7 October. He did not speak about his forthcoming paper, but did make some remarks after other talks, in particular following a presentation by Hans Peter Durr about a theorem of Jeffrey Goldstone and spontaneous symmetry breaking. During a general discussion session following Durr’s talk, Weinberg mused: “This raises a question I can’t answer: are such models renormalisable?” He continued with a similar argument to that which later appeared in his paper, ending with: “I hope someone will be able to find out whether or not [this] is a renormalisable theory of weak and electromagnetic interactions.”

    There was remarkably little reaction to Weinberg’s remarks, and he himself has recalled “a general lack of interest”. The only recorded statement came from François Englert, who insisted that the theory is renormalisable; then, remarkably, there is no further discussion. Englert and Robert Brout, then relatively junior scientists, had both attended the same Brussels meeting.

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    Nobel prize

    At some point during the Solvay conference, Weinberg presented a hand-written draft of his paper to Durr, and 40 years later I obtained a copy by a roundabout route. Weinberg himself had not seen it in all that time, and thought that all record of his Nobel-winning manuscript had been lost. The original manuscript is notable for there being no sign of second thoughts, or editing, which suggests that it was a provisional final draft of an idea that had been worked through in the preceding days. The only hint of modification after the first draft had been written is a memo squeezed in at the end of a reference to Higgs, to include references to Brout and Englert, and to Guralnik, Hagen and Kibble, for the idea of spontaneous symmetry breaking, on which the paper was based. Weinberg’s intuition about the renormalisability of the model is already present in this manuscript, and is identical to what appears in his PRL paper. There is no mention of Glashow’s SU(2)×U(1) model in the draft, but this is included in the version that was published in PRL the following month. This is the only substantial difference. This manuscript was submitted to the editors of PRL on Weinberg’s return to the US, and received by them on 17 October. It appeared in print on 20 November.

    Lasting impact

    Weinberg’s genius was to assemble together the various pieces of a jigsaw and display the whole picture. The basic idea of mass generation was due to the assorted theorists mentioned above, in the summer of 1964. However, a crucial feature of Weinberg’s model was the trick of being able to give masses to the W and Z while leaving the photon massless. This extension of the mass-generating mechanism was due to Tom Kibble, in 1967, which Weinberg recognises and credits.

    As was the case with his comments in Brussels the previous month, Weinberg’s paper appeared in November 1967 to a deafening silence. “Rarely has so great an accomplishment been so widely ignored,” wrote Sidney Coleman in Science in 1979. Today, Weinberg’s paper has been cited more than 10,000 times. Having been cited but twice in the four years from 1967 to 1971, suddenly it became so important that researchers have cited it three times every week throughout half a century. There is no parallel for this in the history of particle physics. The reason is that in 1971 an event took place that has defined the direction of the field ever since: Gerard ’t Hooft made his debut, and he and Martinus Veltman demonstrated the renormalisability of spontaneously broken Yang–Mills theories. A decade later the W and Z bosons were discovered by experiments at CERN’s Super Proton Synchrotron.

    CERN Super Proton Synchrotron

    A further 30 years were to pass before the discovery of the Higgs boson at the Large Hadron Collider completed the electroweak menu.

    CERN CMS Higgs Event

    CERN ATLAS Higgs Event

    And in the meantime, completing the Standard Model, quantum chromodynamics was established as the theory of the strong interactions, based on the group SU(3).

    This episode in particle physics is not only one of the seminal breakthroughs in our understanding of the physical world, but touches on the profound link between mathematics and nature. On one hand it shows how it is easier to be Beethoven or Shakespeare than to be Steven Weinberg: change a few notes in a symphony or a phrase in a play, and you can still have a wonderful work of art; change a few symbols in Weinberg’s equations and the edifice falls apart – for if nature does not read your creation, however beautiful it might be, its use for science is diminished. Like all great theorists, Weinberg revealed a new aspect of reality by writing symbols on a sheet of paper and manipulating them according to the logic of mathematics. It took decades of technological progress to enable the discoveries of W and Higgs bosons and other entities that were already “known” to mathematics 50 years ago.

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 12:35 pm on June 17, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Axion theory, , , , Dr. Steven Weinberg, Helen Quinn and Roberto Peccei, Peccei-Quinn symmetry, , ,   

    From Quanta: “Roberto Peccei and Helen Quinn, Driving Around Stanford in a Clunky Jeep” 

    Quanta Magazine
    Quanta Magazine

    June 15, 2017
    Thomas Lin
    Olena Shmahalo, Art Director
    Lucy Reading-Ikkanda, graphics

    1
    Ryan Schude for Quanta Magazine
    Helen Quinn and Roberto Peccei walking toward Stanford University’s new science and engineering quad. Behind them is the main quad, the oldest part of the campus. “If you look at a campus map,” said Quinn, who along with Peccei proposed Peccei-Quinn symmetry, “you will see the axis that goes through the middle of both quadrangle areas. We are on that line between the two.”

    Four decades ago, Helen Quinn and Roberto Peccei took on one of the great problems in theoretical particle physics: the strong charge-parity (CP) problem. Why does the symmetry between matter and antimatter break in weak interactions, which are responsible for nuclear decay, but not in strong interactions, which hold matter together?

    “The academic year 1976-77 was particularly exciting for me because Helen Quinn and Steven Weinberg were visiting the Stanford department of physics,” Peccei told Quanta in an email. “Helen and I had similar interests and we soon started working together.”

    Encouraged by Weinberg, who would go on to win a Nobel Prize in physics in 1979 for his work on the unification of electroweak interactions, Quinn and Peccei zeroed in on a CP-violating interaction whose strength can be characterized by an angular variable, theta. They knew theta had to be small, but no one had an elegant mechanism for explaining its smallness.

    “Steve liked to discuss physics over lunch, and Helen and I often joined him,” Peccei said. “Steve invariably brought up the theta problem in our lunch discussions, urging us to find a natural solution for why it was so small.”

    Quinn said by email that she and Peccei knew two things: The problem goes away if any quarks have zero mass (which seems to make theta irrelevant), and “in the very early hot universe all the quarks have zero mass.” They wondered how it could be that “theta is irrelevant in the early universe but matters once it cools enough that the quarks get their masses?”

    They proceeded to draft a “completely wrong paper based on conclusions we drew from this set of facts,” Quinn said. They went to Weinberg, whose comments helped clarify their thinking and, she said, “put us on the right track.”

    They realized they could naturally arrive at a zero value for theta by requiring a new symmetry, now known as the Peccei-Quinn mechanism. Besides being one of the popular proposed solutions to the strong CP problem, Peccei-Quinn symmetry also predicts the existence of a hypothetical “axion” particle, which has become a mainstay in theories of supersymmetry and cosmic inflation and has been proposed as a candidate for dark matter.

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    Peccei and Quinn discussing their proposed symmetry with the aid of a sombrero. Ryan Schude for Quanta Magazine

    That year at Stanford, Quinn and Peccei regularly interacted with the theory group at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) as well as with another group from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

    “We formed a large and active group of theorists, which created a wonderful atmosphere of open discussion and collaboration,” Quinn said, adding that she recalls “riding with Roberto back and forth from Stanford to SLAC in his yellow and clunky Jeep, talking physics ideas as we went.”

    See the full article here .

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    Formerly known as Simons Science News, Quanta Magazine is an editorially independent online publication launched by the Simons Foundation to enhance public understanding of science. Why Quanta? Albert Einstein called photons “quanta of light.” Our goal is to “illuminate science.” At Quanta Magazine, scientific accuracy is every bit as important as telling a good story. All of our articles are meticulously researched, reported, edited, copy-edited and fact-checked.

     
  • richardmitnick 6:17 pm on December 7, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Dr. Steven Weinberg, , ,   

    From Harvard: “The ever-smaller future of physics” 

    Harvard University

    Harvard University

    December 5, 2014
    Alvin Powell

    If physicists want to find their long-sought “theory of everything,” they have to get small. And Nobel Prize-winning theoretical physicist Steven Weinberg thinks he knows roughly how small.

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    Nobel winner Steven Weinberg brought his thoughts on a “theory of everything” to the Physics Department’s Lee Historical Lecture. Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer

    Weinberg, who spoke at a packed Geological Lecture Hall Monday evening, said there are hints that the answers to fundamental questions will reveal themselves at around a million billionths — between 10­-17 and 10-19 — of the radius of the typical atomic nucleus.

    “It is in that range that we expect to find really new physics,” said Weinberg, a onetime Harvard professor now on the faculty at the University of Texas at Austin.

    Physicists understand that there are four fundamental forces of nature. Two are familiar in our everyday lives: those of gravity and electromagnetism. The two less-familiar forces operate at the atomic level. The strong force holds the nucleus together while the weak force is responsible for the radioactive decay that changes one type of particle to another and the nuclear fusion that powers the sun.

    For decades, physicists have toiled to create a single theory that explains how all four of these forces work, but without success, instead settling on one theory that explains how gravity acts on a macro scale and another to describe the other three forces and their interactions at the atomic level.

    Weinberg, who won the 1979 Nobel Prize in Physics, with Sheldon Glashow and Abdus Salam, for electroweak theory explaining how the weak force and electromagnetism are related, returned to Harvard to deliver the Physics Department’s annual David M. Lee Historical Lecture. He was introduced by department chair Masahiro Morii and by Andrew Strominger, the Gwill E. York Professor of Physics, who recalled taking Weinberg’s class on general relativity as a Harvard undergrad.

    “I wish I could say I remembered you in Physics 210,” Weinberg said to laughs as he took the podium.

    The event also recognized the outstanding work of four graduate students — two in experimental physics, Dennis Huang and Siyuan Sun, and two in theoretical physics, Shu-Heng Shao and Bo Liu — with the Gertrude and Maurice Goldhaber Prize.

    Weinberg pointed to several hints of something significant going on at the far extremes of tininess. One hint is that the strong force, which weakens at shorter scales, and the weak and electromagnetic forces, which get stronger across shorter distances, appear to converge at that scale.

    Gravity is so weak that it isn’t felt at the atomic scale, overpowered by the other forces that operate there. However, Weinberg said, if you calculate how much mass two protons or two electrons would need for gravity to balance their repulsive electrical force, it would have to not just be enormous, but on a similar scale as the other measurements, the equivalent of 1.04 x 1018 gigaelectron volts.

    “There is a strong suggestion that gravity is somehow unified with those other forces at these scales,” Weinberg said.

    Weinberg also said there are experimental hints in the extremely small masses of neutrinos and in possible proton decay that the tiniest scales are significant in ways that are fundamental to physics.

    “This is a very crude estimate, but the mass of neutrinos which are being observed are in the same ballpark that you would expect from new physics associated with a fundamental length,” Weinberg said. “It all seems to hang together.”

    A major challenge for physicists is that the energy needed to probe what is actually going on at the smallest levels is far beyond current technology, something like 10 trillion times the highest energy we can harness now. And new technology to explore the problem experimentally is not on the horizon. Even with all the wealth in the world, scientists wouldn’t know where to begin, Weinberg said.

    But the experiment may have already been done, by nature, and there may be a way to look back at it, Weinberg said. During the inflationary period immediately after the Big Bang there was that kind of energy, he said, and it would be evident as gravitation waves in the cosmic microwave background, an echo of the Big Bang that astronomers study for hints of the early universe. In fact, astronomers announced they had found such waves earlier this year, though they are waiting for confirmation of the results.

    Gravitational Wave Background
    gravitational waves

    Cosmic Background Radiation Planck
    CMB per ESA/Planck

    ESA Planck
    ESA/Planck

    “The big question that we face … is, can we find a truly fundamental theory uniting all the forces, including gravitation … characterized by tiny lengths like 10-17 to 10-19 nuclear radii?” Weinberg said. “Is it a string theory? That seems like the most beautiful candidate, but we don’t have any direct evidence that it is a string theory. The only handle we have … on this to do further experiments is in cosmology.”

    See the full article here.

    Harvard is the oldest institution of higher education in the United States, established in 1636 by vote of the Great and General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. It was named after the College’s first benefactor, the young minister John Harvard of Charlestown, who upon his death in 1638 left his library and half his estate to the institution. A statue of John Harvard stands today in front of University Hall in Harvard Yard, and is perhaps the University’s best known landmark.

    Harvard University has 12 degree-granting Schools in addition to the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. The University has grown from nine students with a single master to an enrollment of more than 20,000 degree candidates including undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. There are more than 360,000 living alumni in the U.S. and over 190 other countries.

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  • richardmitnick 6:43 pm on April 21, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Dr. Steven Weinberg, , The New York Review of Books   

    From The New York Review of Books: Steven Weinberg “The Crisis of Big Science” 

    nyrb

    In The New York Review of Books, May 10, 2012 Dr. Weinberg writes, as beautifully as ever, about some of the past and future of what is essentially Basic Scientific Research, in the field of Physics. This article is copyright protected, so I will not even quote from it, out of respect for Dr. Weinberg. I will just suggest that you go to the link provided below and read the article.

    sw
    Dr. Steven Weinberg

    Suffice it for me to say that in this article he is concerned with the future of the U.S. budget for basic research, specifically in Physics and Astronomy. But he does spend some time describing where we have been before talking about where we are or are not going. I have read him before in NYRB, and he never fails to properly set a context for his major thesis. But, while this is one of the most eminent people in our scientific community, still, in his description of our history of support and the lack of it for basic research, Dr Weinberg seems to make the defining point of his interest the 1993 cancellation by the U.S. Congress of the Superconducting Super Collider, to have been built in Texas. I have seen it in his previous articles, I have seen him speak about it in videos of his lectures. On the one hand, he is not wrong. On the other hand, let it go. This failure to proceed in a program in the State of Texas, where he has been at the University of Texas, is in no way any sort of defining moment in his incredible and Nobel winning career.

    If Dr Weinberg can be criticized for anything at all in his writing, it is his too quick mentions of various sub-atomic particles and forces which are the elements of the Standard Model. While it might be reasonable for him to expect that his readers would already be familiar with these terms, still he is writing in a journal of popular press, no matter how erudite the journal or its readership. He might just keep some quickie descriptions of quarks, leptons, muons, and bosons, etc., in his word processing files and dump them in for his less learned readership.


    The “Standard Model” with the hypothetical Higgs boson

    The U.S. D.O.E. Office of Science funds about seventeen major research laboratories, such as Berkeley Lab, Brookhaven, Argonne, and Fermilab. There is a lot of concern about the future of many projects in these labs. At Fermilab, the Long Baseline Neutrino Experiment (LBNE) has been pushed back to economic re-design. That is a biggie. Dr. Weinberg comments that things are not rosy in Europe. But the European Southern Observatory, an incredible organization in Astronomy, seems to be pushing ahead with its long range telescope building program. Also, in a previous post here, we saw that Director Oddone of Fermilab had recently returned from meetings in which he was quite impressed with the planning he saw in both Europe and Asia.

    I highly recommend that you read Dr. Weinberg’s article. I always recommend that you read Dr Weinberg. The article can be found here.

     
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