April 30, 2010

Another Round of Particle Physics

A certain someone (i.e. Tea) is rather confused, but doing her best to keep up. As a result, you get to listen to (watch? read?) me go through my notes this week.

My header, outlined to make it bold, is SHP notes, as I had my new notebook, which was supposed to be electrical engineering notes but has already become something of an everything. On the top is a note to self: ask Rube about imaginary particles, which he was kind enough to explain during the break. Apparently, particles can borrow energy from nowhere, so long as they give it back quickly, and this energy sometimes generates new particles, but, in doing so, imaginary particles end up briefly carrying mass. Or something like that.

There is then a large drawing of a flower. Following that is "Unification" with a squiggly line under it, with unpredictable variables underneath it (and I mean "unpredictable variables." I don't know what the variables were). Oh, wait, I remember. It's saying that the standard model can't predict all variables.

Next we have "SYMMETRIES - explain everything." I must take the least informative notes ever. Ooh, now we move onto Field Thoery: must incorporate special relativity, quantum mechanics. At that point, my instructor hadn't yet explained what, precisely, field theory was, so I nodded along quite nicely. Fields are, as I later discovered, functions defined at all points in space time. They can be scaler, like temperature on the Earth, or a vector, like in magnetism. In quantum mechanics, this field oscillates sinusoidally, (like a mattress!), simulating particle interactions, as particles are the waves on a spring. It is at moments like these when I truly appreciate that Mr. Mubble taught us about waves on Thursday.

Then we went into Langrangians, which went completely over my head but had some relation to spring constants that was identified on the powerpoint by "(this is suggestive!)" at which I snorted at poked Allana to point out the ridiculousness of the exclamation point, at which point Rube tutted at my immaturity (this from the boy who attempted to argue with me last year that the penis game is not at all immature).

So, there are infinite waves, which work together like probability waves with particle motion. At places where the waves are added together due to constructive interference, particles propagate. Then there was some math stuff I didn't understand, and I learned that (cursive O) O(x^n) is "x of order n." Apparently whatever I just learned from that math can be applied to a crystal lattice, and the word phonon can be used to describe it.

Page 2! This has a series of notes on it between Allana and I. There was a short asian guy with bowl cut hair and glasses and an MIT shirt in front of us who, I swear to deities, looked exactly like Andy. Rube actually pointed to the guy and said "I be he's going to RSI with you." Anyways, I told Allana that if I guy who looked like that came up to her at Quiz Bowl nationals, he was my friend. She asked me his name, I said Andy, she said what?, so I spelled it on the corner of my page.

"I'll introduce myself as Shaniqwa," wrote Allana.

"I told him you were Allana."

"Names that Asians should not have: Andy and Shaniqwa!"

"Like Allana isn't Catholic" (this works better in reference to her actual name).

Beneath that, in Tea-code, is written "silly instrument," which, second to Wino, is our new favorite euphemism, and is from Canterbury Tales. My use of code to record it prompted both Rube and Allana to poke me repeatedly, trying to figure out what the hell I was writing.

Anyways, back to class....Langrangians, whatever they are, have symmetries called gauge symmetries, but pronounced gage symmetries, unless gauge is pronounced gage and I've been doing it wrong for all of these years. These symmetries apply to the strong, weak, and electromagnetic forces, using an equation that includes circles with xs in them that make absolutely no sense. Anyways, the apparently predicts particle size, but this bit is rather boring so I shall skip it. There was something about minimums and partial derivatives (cyrillic d). Anyways, nothing forces a particular ground state, whatever a ground state is, hence it doesn't need to be an even function, so there can be SPONTANEOUS SYMMETRY BREAKING, which yes, is written in all caps in my notes and followed by wooooo!

I believe the wooooo is there because after Allana, Rube and I got back from stealing oreos from orgo and class resumed, the teacher said "and now, how that symmetry breaking occurs," Rube said "yay!" I said "whoooo" and the teacher laughed.

"So, mass comes from the Higgs field," but I still don't know what the 'so' is referencing. And a table! Look, logic. I shall copy this down into my notes so as to give myself the appearance of absorbing the information. Electromagnetism has one photon and is massless, neutral, has infinite range, and is calculated using QED. Weak nuclear has the plus and minus W and the Z, all three of which are imaginary, have gauge symmetry that has been hidden by the Higgs field, and are massive bosons with weak electric charges and zippy decay. Then there is the strong nuclear force, with its eight gluons, which are massless but self-interacting, colored, and calculable using QCD.

The next page starts with another fun euphemism, wino, as in a hypothetical symmetric pair to the plus or minus W. Now, a graph, with lines. "Theoretically, high energy scales will combine forces due to the effect on coupling constants as QED increases rapidly, strong decreases, and weak decreases slowly, finding a common value at ten to the sixteenth giga electron volts." Sure, yesterday's Tea, whatever you say.

Grand Unification Theory can be abbreviated as GUT, in case you were wondering.

Anyways, this one would be tested by searching for the decay of a proton, which would have a lifetime of 10^30 years, so if you watch enough, some should break down, creating observable Cherkov cones. But, after 1/5 a century of searching, we have nothing, so this particular GUT is likely useless, unless we have....

SUPERSYMMETRY (SUSY), which, yes, must be written like that. This would require an operator to switch between fermions and bosons, so there is an equal number of each. However, none of the knowns have pairs, so half our particles are missing. So, let's make up names for the particles that we haven't yet found.

Bosons become bosinos (photon becomes photino, etc.). Fermions become sfermions, including sparticles, squarks, and sleptons.

Allana then turned to me and said "You're such a slepton."



"Well, you're a strange squark who can't get any."

She laughed. "So which is a better euphemism, wino or silly instrument?"

I said silly instrument at the exact moment that Rube said wino. Soon after that, I began playing tetris with myself on the side of the paper and shading in all the shapes, so there are no more notes, aside from Allan insisting that I am secretly called M.C. Tea, which is note true.