Pulp Physics

1970 0

I started watching The Hateful Eight when I wondered “Why eight?”

Because it is the eighth movie by Quentin Tarantino (QT, which can also stand for Quantum Theory).😏

Since I was ruminating on the number eight, my mind wandered to The Eightfold Path, then to The Eightfold Way, and so suddenly I was thinking about quarks. 🤷🏽‍♂️

Once Upon a Time…in Princeton

Seeking to create a satisfactory foundation for quantum electro-dynamics:

..a method for formulating a quantum analogue of systems for which no Hamiltonian, but rather a principle of least action, exists has been worked out. It is a desciption (yes, there is a typo in the original) of this method that constitutes this thesis.

The Principle of Least Action in Quantum Mechanics.

Richard P. Feynman. 

A Dissertation presented to the Faculty of Princeton University in Candidacy for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.

Recommended for Acceptance by the Department of Physics. 

May 1942. 

I have always found that Physics is much easier to grasp if viewed as religion rather than as science:

    Hinduism: Reincarnation

    Christianity: Immaculate Conception

    Physics: Principle of Least Action

For those of you who are not physicists this may come as a surprising viewpoint to take.

But, pretty much every physicist I have spoken to, after thinking a bit, agrees that it – The Principle of Stationary Action (“least” usually is the case, but technically, because the first derivative is set to zero, and we are not checking for the second derivative at this stage, it does not have to be “minimum”)  — is indeed axiomatic.

It is collectively accepted by the professional community of physicists, who have tacitly agreed:

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

The 1965 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded jointly to Sin-Itiro Tomonaga, Julian Schwinger and Richard P. Feynman “for their fundamental work in quantum electrodynamics, with deep-ploughing consequences for the physics of elementary particles.

Quarks Unchained

Why cannot we find individual quarks?

Turns out that one quark cannot pull too far away from another one, like they are attached to a rubber band that makes it too hard to stretch beyond a certain distance, this certain distance being smaller than the nucleus of an atom, but when they are very close, as the rubber band is slack, quarks can behave as if they are isolated and as individuals.

The fancy physics phrase for this is “asymptotic freedom.”

The 2004 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded jointly to David J. Gross, H. David Politzer and Frank Wilczek “for the discovery of asymptotic freedom in the theory of the strong interaction.”

We can trace this back to Princeton (1974 or 1975). With David Gross as his PhD advisor, Frank Wilzcek’s thesis:

Non-abelian gauge theories and asymptotic freedom. 

Nobel Bardeen: Volume 1 and Nobel Bardeen: Volume 2

Here is a fun story, also of a Princeton Physics PhD (of 1936), John Bardeen.

For the Nobel Prize ceremony in 1956, Bardeen brought only one of his three children to Stockholm.

King Gustav chided Bardeen because of this, and Bardeen assured the King that the next time he would bring all his children to the ceremony

He kept his promise.

In 1972, when he received his second Nobel in Physics, Bardeen brought all his three children to the Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockholm.😳

Let me close with a lighthearted view of Space-Time:

Time exists because otherwise everything will happen at once.

Space exists because otherwise everything will happen at Princeton.


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