For those of you who haven't seen the latest updates from CERN regarding the Higgs boson, I suggest reading the following article by New Scientist.
The gist of the news is that, while there is still uncertainty, the evidence seems to be pointing more and more to "1 Standard Model Higgs boson." There's still a lot of data to analyze, and we should be getting more analysis of results this March.
Also, I just found this out, but there's been fairly recent work published, using the latest data from CERN, showing that there are likely only 12 fermions (i.e. only 3 families of the four underlying fermions...up quark, down quark, neutrino and electron.) If you count the anti-particles, then there are 8 underlying fermions, which have the following values of electric charge (-1, -2/3, -1/3, 0, 0(?), 1/3, 2/3, and 1). Seems like coincidence??? Not likely, but the Standard Model doesn't tell us why the fundamental particles have this underlying structure in the units of electricity charge. There's still a lot we don't know about the universe (such as the ~20 experimental constants in the Standard Model), but it looks like the universe is fairly organized and simple. My question is: if these researchers were able to rule out a 4th family of fermions, why can't we rule out super-symmetric particles using a similar analysis? My guess is that we'll see some papers over the next year in which researchers show that super-symmetric particles are incompatible with the data at CERN (even rule out heavy super-particles that we can't measure yet directly, but that would have had an effect on the location of the mass of the Higgs boson.)
I find particle physics such a fascinating topic because I want to know how the world works, and particle physics seems to get at the underlying functionality of the world. But beyond that I ultimately want to know what is the purpose of life. I guess that I've been hoping that something in the data we collect from these particle accelerators and from orbiting satellites would tell us about our purpose.
Saturday, December 15, 2012
Update on Higgs, the Number of Fermions, and General Comments on various philosophies I held in the past
Saturday, December 1, 2012
There is only one arrow of time.
This post is a continuation on a previous post on the Arrow of Time. The goal in this post is to expand on the themes from the last post as well as to point out recent additional experimental evidence for time reversal asymmetry.
"One Ring to Rule them All"
The arrow of time associated with the weak nuclear force is the same as the entropic arrow of time (i.e the 2nd Law of Thermo), which is the same as the cosmological arrow of time (i.e. the expanding universe.) All of these arrows of time are caused by the fact that there is one (and only one) parameter in the Standard Model Langrangian of particles that allows for CP violations (i.e. T asymmetry.) This parameter is due to interactions between Fermi particles via the weak nuclear force, and the parameter is within what’s called the CKM matrix. Every other interaction between particles (both fermions and bosons) is time reflection symmetric. In other words, there would be no such thing as the "arrow of time" unless there were this one parameter. And since there is only one parameter that violates time reflection symmetry, there's only one arrow of time (that we are aware of so far.)
So, let's go back to the beginning of time (as far as we can discern.) Right after the Big Bang, the weak nuclear force allowed heavy quarks to convert into lower energy quarks and a slew of other particles. This process is described by the CKM matrix and is time (T) reflection asymmetric, as well as charge (C) and parity (P) reflection asymmetric. This asymmetric process is likely also why there are more electrons than anti-electrons, and likely why the universe is not perfectly left-right symmetric. (Though, it should be noted that this asymmetry could also be due to asymmetric starting conditions.) This increase in the number of particles led to an increase in the exchange symmetries between similar particles (i.e. entropy). This ‘finite’ and ‘digital’ value of entropy is likely embedded into a ‘finite’ and ‘digital’ space-time causing this ‘finite’ and ‘digital’ space-time to increase in size…i.e. the expansion of the universe after the Big Bang. So, we already have an explanation for why the universe increased in size after the Big Bang (i.e. the weak nuclear force increases the number of Fermi particles and this increases the entropy, which is encoded in space-time.) The question is: can this explanation also account for the continued expansion of space-time into the present?