Posts Tagged ‘doubt’

In ancient India there was a sage by name Samsara. He was so revered that gods discussed how to honor him suitably. Elephant God suggested to place him in the sea bed so whoever wished to ask any boon must negotiate with sea creatures. The sea god suspected bad motives in such a suggestion so he said, “Why make poor mankind learn to swim while the air is free?”. “Trimurthy should not mind one more god in their fold?,”Monkey God queried. Brahma laughed and replied, “Four means the end of Trinity” They rejected the idea. Finally they yielded to have him placed him beneath their abode. “Should not we ask Samsara his opinion in the matter?”Elephant God asked. So Sage Samsara was consulted and he said, “Yes, I have a boon to ask. “I am content to live on this dungheap. It must find its level so I shall not be envied by gods or by man. “Yes the goods were all as one, “Why bring up Sage Samsara up? Let him find his own level”. Thus he came to dwell atop the Mount Kailas which at first was merely a hillock.
Eons later when Brahma came down he saw Sage Samsara and he was almost placed as high as heavens. He exclaimed:”What,- impossible! How did you come so high?” Sage Samsara said, “I relied on your own godly powers and the rest on the gullibility of people who worship me. The Trinity muttered to one another,” Retreat quietly, we have many cosmic cycles to solve this riddle.”
This is how Science has arrived at the Theory of Almost Everything. First let us go through what we have achieved. Standard Model, for example.
The ancients believed that everything is made of just five elements earth, water,fire air and aether. The world around us is made of molecules, and molecules are made of atoms. Chemist Dimitri Mendeleev figured that out in the 1860s and organized all atoms – that is, the elements – into the periodic table But there are 118 different chemical elements. There’s antimony, arsenic, aluminum, selenium … and 114 more.
By 1932, scientists knew that all those atoms are made of just three particles – neutrons, protons and electrons. The neutrons and protons are bound together tightly into the nucleus. The electrons, thousands of times lighter, whirl around the nucleus at speeds approaching that of light. Further studies of Physicists Planck, Bohr,Schroedinger Heisenberg and few others had invented a new science and it explained this motion, quantum mechanics.
Just three particles. But held together how? The negatively charged electrons and positively charged protons are bound together by electromagnetism. But the protons are all huddled together in the nucleus and their positive charges should be pushing them powerfully apart. The neutral neutrons can’t help.
What binds these protons and neutrons together? particles to just three. Really four, because photon the particle of light that Einstein described. Four grew to five when Anderson measured electrons with positive charge – positrons – striking the Earth from outer space. At leastDirac had predicted these first anti-matter particles. Five became six when the pion, which Yukawa predicted would hold the nucleus together, was found.
Then came the muon – 200 times heavier than the electron, but otherwise a twin. That sums it up. Number seven. Not only not simple, redundant.
By the 1960s there were hundreds of “fundamental” particles. In place of the well-organized periodic table, there were just long lists of baryons (heavy particles like protons and neutrons), mesons like Yukawa’s pions and leptons (light particles like the electron, and the elusive neutrinos) – with no organization and no guiding principles.
the Standard Model by mid-sixties became a simple theory, and then five decades of experimental verification and theoretical elaboration.
Quarks They come in six varieties we call flavors. Like ice cream, except not as tasty. Instead of vanilla, chocolate and so on, we have up, down, strange, charm, bottom and top. In 1964, Gell- Mann and Zweig taught us the recipes: Mix and match any three quarks to get a baryon. Protons are two ups and a down quark bound together; neutrons are two downs and an up. Choose one quark and one antiquark to get a meson. A pion is an up or a down quark bound to an anti-up or an anti-down. All the material of our daily lives is made of just up and down quarks and anti-quarks and electrons. keeping those quarks bound is a feat. They are tied to one another so tightly that you never ever find a quark or anti-quark on its own. The theory of that binding, and the particles called gluons (chuckle) that are responsible, is called quantum chromodynamics. It’s a vital piece of the Standard Model, but mathematically difficult, even posing an unsolved problem of basic mathematics.
Discovering the Higgs boson in 2012, long predicted by the Standard Model and long sought after, was a thrill but not a surprise. It was yet another crucial victory for the Standard Model over the dark forces that particle physicists have repeatedly warned loomed over the horizon. Concerned that the Standard Model didn’t adequately embody their expectations of simplicity, worried about its mathematical self-consistency, or looking ahead to the eventual necessity to bring the force of gravity into the fold, physicists have made numerous proposals for theories beyond the Standard Model. These bear exciting names like Grand Unified Theories,Supersymmetry, Technicolor and String Theory.
Sadly, at least for their proponents, beyond-the-Standard-Model theories have not yet successfully predicted any new experimental phenomenon or any experimental discrepancy with the Standard Model.
After five decades, far from requiring an upgrade, the Standard Model is all we have nevertheless the Amazing Theory of Almost Everything. Almost in the Science means nothing beyond a theory.
(Ack:The Standard Model of particle physics: The absolutely amazing theory of almost everything/Glenn Starkman/the conversation/May 23,2018)
Moral: While reading The Absolutely Amazing Theory of Almost everything read ‘Doubt’ in place of almost.


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