Particle Physics Isn't That Hard Actually

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Wed Jan 08, 2014 7:24 am

sun1404 wrote:From what you say, the magnetic force carrier 'virtual photon' is just a hypothetical particle, that scientists thinks might exist (in other words, think that it's existence might be reasonable.) That doesn't mean they've found it. For example, the Higgs boson was thought to exist for a long time, a hypothetical particle for a long time. Then some years ago they did an experiment that gives results that, combined with their prior knowledges, makes the existence of the Higgs boson far more reasonable than it's opposite. By that way, they've 'found' it. Has the virtual photon been proved to exist?
Virtual particles is unobservable anyway. They appears in quantum field theory as mathematical constructions. Virtual photons have some quantum properties of regular photons. But virtual particles could have imaginary mass and other strange properties, so they could be just an mathematical abstraction. Most scientists implements quantum fluctuations of vacuum as vitrual particle-antiparticle pairs appear out of empty space and annihilate to nothing. Read about Casimir effect. Anyway, any field is linked with an specific particle in quantum field theory, that called 'carrier particle' becouse of similarity of some mathematical constructions used to describe fields and particles. Anyway, do you agree that photon is an quantum of electromagnetic waves?

This theory is very accurate in calculations but it is not the absolute truth, it discribes reality with some precision.

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sun1404
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Wed Jan 08, 2014 11:50 am

That is, simply, they haven't found the magnetic force carrier. They only knows it must exist, in some form. Doesn't mean they know how it is, what are it's exact properties, and most importantly doesn't mean they've found it.
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Wed Jan 08, 2014 4:05 pm

When you say they "found something" it just means that they are more sure that they think it should exist. This isn't finding something. This is only becoming more sure (possibly just more stubborn) you have the possibility of some time in the future having a better grasp on what it is you are observing.

What do you have when you divide a Higgs Boson?
What do you have when you divide whatever that would be?
and so on and so on...

In the end when do you stop and realize you can't understand the real fundamentals of matter, enjoy the breezy day, and eat that sandwich (see previous message) that still taste just like it always has.
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Wed Jan 08, 2014 5:54 pm

Vachtra wrote:What do you have when you divide a Higgs Boson?
An actual particle physicist would know. The standard model has made a lot of prediction and so far it's batting 1000. The basic Standard model predicted three quarks, a lepton, a neutrino, and two force transmitters, all of which turned up with their expected properties. The Standard Model was the only reason to expect the Top and Bottom quark or Tau lepton and Tau neutrino. No third generation particles were known when the model was proposed. Every Last One it predicted has been found.

Quantum gravity predicted the Higgs Boson. It turned up.

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Thu Jan 09, 2014 12:31 am

Again the word found is coming up. They haven't technically found anything. There you go throwing that word around like it's fact. What they know is that certain experiments are having an anticipated result. The actual finding of the things mentioned still hasn't happened but merely hints at what they expect to find.

This is really a lot like a witch hunt. They are finding what they are looking for because they are looking for it and thus label it with their names as soon as it resembles what they want. There may well be something like what they are looking for but there is still no real proof that that's what it is yet.

BTW, I'm still hopeful for some proof.

edit: Is your response also to say you don't like sandwiches?

edit 2: As far as them knowing what the division of a Higgs Boson would be, well they don't. That's one reason it was called a god particle. They believed it was the smallest part of anything. The problem there is you can always go smaller. There is no end to it.
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sun1404
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Thu Jan 09, 2014 2:21 am

To find something doesn't mean you must know everything about it. A kid might wander in his dad's office, find a bunch of server computer, and maybe even turn some off. Doesn't mean he knows how they work, or even what they do. Doesn't mean he know what he will find if he divide them and look inside.

To find something, just having enough evidences that it exist is enough. If your results says it should exist much more than not, then you can say you found them. There is no way to prove something absolutely. For example, in everyday life, when you just see something, you can say you found it. In scientific experiments, when you can interact with something in various ways with predicted results, then you can say you found it.

It is much different from witch hunt. In that case, they do not have any real evidence except their words, but here, the results are predicted and happened, and observed

And lastly, there must be an end to everything. Even the universe we can observe is limited, and the entire universe, even if it's really infinite in size, it will not expand infinitely in time. There was it's birth, and there will be it's death. And if the universe is really infinite, then going bigger have a limit. Going smaller too, even if we haven't found it yet, must have a limit somewhere.
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Thu Jan 09, 2014 3:21 pm

You are confusing finding with understanding. The little kid found a server even if he didn't know what it was. It was definitely found though.

In experiments you are trying to make the opposite true. Just because you are getting a result on a screen doesn't mean you really know why even if you can reproduce it a billion times without fail. Often that's really all they have to point to is a pattern on a screen.

In a witch hunt they are looking for specific signs not just one but several that would seem to point to there being a witch. They take these many evidences and declare there to be a witch. In a scientific experiment they look for specific signs not just one but several that would seem to point to there being a particle. They take these many evidences and declare there to be a particle.

They look the same to me.

Lastly, ok not really since that would be an end, the fact that you can't comprehend there not being a limit doesn't mean there is a limit.
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sun1404
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Fri Jan 10, 2014 3:09 pm

It would seem to me, that you are saying everything just as I said, yet you say I am confusing finding with understanding. I said the kid might find a server, even if he don't know what it is. I said we don't need to understand something just to find them.

In experiments, they try to do both things, but separately. They do try to gather evidences to prove that they have found something new. And they do try to comprehend what they know to exist, to know more about it.

In a witch hunt, I have heard, the judge's opinion alone is the significant thing. They can make anything the evidence, and burn anyone they had the slightest fear of possessing magic. In science, they prove things with evidences based on globally accepted facts and theories. There are, of course, hypothesizes and hypothesizes made on hypothesizes, but scientists do not claim those as proven. They are just interesting possibilities that deserves interest and shouldn't be forgotten, at least until they are proven otherwise.

And lastly, and I say lastly because this is the last paragraph I'll write in this post, yes there may not be a limit to everything, but of course just because you can think about things without limits doesn't mean the limit is not there. And there is, I believe with absolute certainty, a limit to what human can observe. Be it the light, the very medium for our sight, speed, limiting how far we can see, our biological structure, our eyes that are made of cells, limiting the resolution at which we can perceive sight, the limited spectrum our eyes can see, the limited frequency our ears can receive, the limited resolution our nerves can feel, and ultimately the limited capability of our brain, and the limited time of our life.
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Fri Jan 10, 2014 6:13 pm

I'm not saying the same thing at all. The kid doesn't know he found a server but it's there and anyone who knows what it is knows it without any doubt at all. It doesn't even have to work. No test is needed. Then again it's not going anywhere. Where is it? It's sitting on the floor with a little kid's finger in the cd rom drive.
With these particles you have a lot less to go on. No one can look at one and say, "Ah now there's a quark." You merely have an experiment reading from a computer sensor from a specific instant. Were is the quark now? No one knows. It isn't able to be stored. You can't buy one.

As far as the witch hunt goes it really depends on your hunters, you should observe one some time. That goes the same I guess for your scientists as well though. Either can be as closed minded or open minded as the other. The problem that is a little more bothersome in a witch hunt is that after they find one, and usually execute them, there is no way to prove or disprove the matter any further since the supposed witch is then gone.

In the world of particle physics the best you can really say you found is a new experiment that can be reproduced and then try to describe what may have done this. This does unfortunately not mean you found something besides the experiment itself or the results it produces since what was seen was not the particle but the residual impression left on a sensor from an experiment.

I am well aware that there are some limits and this affects our ability to truly find things. At such a small scale they may actually never really find the particles but it is their best interpretation of what they expect is there. On the flip side this does not mean that their theoretical model of what they expect won't serve them extremely well in their endeavors which may lead to more and more theories and experiments. Nor does it mean that we won't continue to benefit from the use of these reproducible experiments and further stretch our little grey cells.

edit: Still not opinion on sandwiches eh? There's a really nice horseradish cheddar that goes treat with turkey.
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sun1404
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Sat Jan 11, 2014 1:19 am

I'd say having readings on a computer screen that is like what they hypothesized is not that much different from seeing. It's just that the one who saw the particle was the computer, and maybe it saw not with light, but through other means or medium. Still, the computer did saw it and it reported so to the scientist. Yes, maybe they haven't seen the particle themselves, but the computer wouldn't really lie, would it? I think it's not wrong to say they found the particle then.
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Sat Jan 11, 2014 10:39 am

The thing with particle science is that it is really a science. We (the people specialising in this field of expertise) know so much more about this than ever makes it into news-articles or even popular science books. The problem for the interested amateurs such as ourselves is that even the slights introduction into the field requires an enormous effort of the brain, unless all the math that explains why we know what we know comes naturally to you.

From the lack of all those details, a feel arises that all this theory is very close to speculation. It is not however. These theories are so full of details and cross-relations that it is very unlikely that the theory holding up and reality conforming to the expectations/predictions.

It is true that nobody ever has 'seen' a lepton, yet we all make use of at least one variety all the time (the electron) and we have a pretty clear understanding of how it interacts with other particles and what the results are. The muon (think of it as the electron's more massive brother; a generalisation that helps our amateur brains but is off course wildly over simplified) is less well know to the general public, and still it is uses in experiments on a daily basis.

So just because it is such complex science, that when listening to a professional makes you feel like it could all be his imagination, does not mean it is not hard and proves science. It has more to do with our lack of understanding the matter.

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Vachtra
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Mon Jan 13, 2014 7:19 pm

It's not a lack of understanding.
The model is a theoretical model, meaning a model that merely tries to explain what they see in experiments and what is possibly there. It is by no means an exact model. One of the reasons for this is the difficulty to produce accurate measurements the smaller you go.

By definition a theory is speculation.
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Sun Mar 16, 2014 11:51 pm

It's time for a massively abbreviated post on my favourite topic: The epistemology of science! :)
Vachtra wrote:1. If you can break a particle down to it's smallest component what you have must still have mass no matter how many "0"'s you have to put in front of the number to get there. It also has to have volume. these are the rules of it existing in the physical universe and we have no reason to believe it doesn't.
The bolded isn't actually true IIRC (it's been a while since my physics degree). There's no particular reason to think there are absolute exclusion zones around all particles (there are several different ones depending on the exchange particle but none are actual boundaries but a smooth transition of resistance) or that all particles have their mass-energy distributed across space (with quantum physics the point may well be moot).
4. Some of the particles, or carriers, are only hypothetical. There is no proof they even exist.
Using the word "proof" when talking of science could be an indicator that either the speaker doesn't fully understand the scientific method or that they are dumbing it down for the layman (if the latter then please excuse the following mini-lecture).
Science is about creating models of the world and seeing how well they match reality, it's pretty much impossible to prove something as you can always construct another (likely far more complicated) model that gives the same result. Which is why we are supposed to go with the computationally simpler model (there are formal rules to this effect, but they are computationally intractable so in practice instead we have a set of informal social norms that do roughly this).
And in our simplest model we have a bunch of "things" (I really can't explain this much better in a forum post) which we call virtual particles. We observe them in a similar sense to that which we observe anything (like say, radio waves or even our hands in front of our face!), we see effects which are best modelled with their presence.
even a good study sheet will let you know that there are a lot of guesses and missing data that they really can't prove.
In my experience physicists avoid guesses in the accepted theories at all cost. If you find it on a study sheet there are very good reasons to think it's an vital part of a very well supported model, even though the explanations through all the chains of reasoning and possible alternatives can (and do in my experience!) take days.

Additionally, as a rule if you think you've found a flaw, hole or improvement in a well known physics theory (that isn't already at least a minority view amongst physicists) and you didn't spend at least an hour thinking it up and another dozen fleshing it out and checking to see whether it's already been thought of, you're wrong. Physicists are actually very very good at keeping an open mind, hence string theory :lol: . They are also very intelligent, relatively numerous, well informed, highly motivated*, communicative, efficient in distributing lines of thought to follow and spend a lot of time thinking about this.

* Additionally, contrary to popular belief it's pretty much impossible to make on accurately predictive theory that won't be accepted as valid by physicists (though like Einstein with QM they might declare it incomplete) as these days there are a number of simple rules and observations that can be used to check it. This is actually what it means for a science to be "hard" (with other disciplines like Criminology or Psychology it's much easier for a good idea to go unaccepted).
For instance if you claim to have come up with a Theory of Everything it would be quite simple to check to see if it's predictions match actual observations from experiments done.
Vachtra wrote:I could call mesons small turtles
To paraphrase a famous physicist:
"What would it even mean to call mesons small turtles?"
And therein lies the crux of the issue. The problem is not the wording of a theory or the associations it invokes, the problem is the predictions (or lack thereof) that it makes.
In the end all I really want people to do is not follow blindly just because it's in a book.
While this is sounds advice in History, Politics and Art or even to a lesser extent Animal Biology and Neuroscience, it's not very good for particle physics. It's one of the "hard"est sciences out there, the only harder one is maths and that's one only real cranks dispute at the text book level.
Vachtra wrote:What do you have when you divide a Higgs Boson?
I believe in this case the Higgs Boson is the smallest quantized element of gravity mediation so there probably wouldn't be any components (how would you even in theory divide such a thing?).
Vachtra wrote:In a witch hunt they are looking for specific signs not just one but several that would seem to point to there being a witch. They take these many evidences and declare there to be a witch. In a scientific experiment they look for specific signs not just one but several that would seem to point to there being a particle. They take these many evidences and declare there to be a particle.

They look the same to me.
Ah, anti-science (the opposite of science).
In a scientific experiment you are NOT looking for signs that would point to there being a particle. The whole point of coming up with an experiment is to TEST a theory, you are trying to find the most likely ways your theory could fail to match reality and/or seeing if it's most surprising predictions are actually the case.
Think of it like a tribal initiation for an anthropologist. The more trials of greater ferocity you undergo the more likely you are to be accepted, someone who passes through only easy ones will never become one of the tribe but the more dangerous and daring they are the more likely you are to be declared a member. There are also a few trials you must undergo due to your tribal name (whether "Punched a bear", "Runs like Cheetah" or "General Relativity" :P). To make things worse, the backers of the other anthropologists competing for the spare place in the tribe are designing their own trials (every potential tribesman goes through every trial) to trip you up!
Vachtra wrote:By definition a theory is speculation.
No, no it's really not.
Speculation is a theory without good evidence.
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Vachtra
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Thu Mar 20, 2014 7:26 pm

Wow, a whole post just for me, and a pretty long one too. :D

A wrap up is nice except you ignore anything I actually said and merely spewed out a bunch of rhetoric without substance. Instead of focusing on the meaning you attack the speaker, take words completely out of context (turtles, he he, still think that one's funny), and for some reason don't understand metaphor (although you attempt to use it). You also seem to need a dictionary.

What I get from your wrap up is this: Listen to the physicists. They're pretty sure they know what might be there.....maybe (well it does have a wart). At least they have lots of do-dads that they can accurately predict the outcomes of, usually.

I feel better already.

Here's the kicker though. I understand where you're coming from and as the heading says "it really isn't that hard" (studied it for over twenty years now). On the flip side you don't know where I'm coming from and don't seem to care.

It's ok though, I don't expect the vast majority of people to understand.
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Thu Mar 20, 2014 10:54 pm

I wonder if we're looking at the same post...
"Rhetoric without substance"? "Ignoring what I actually said"? Me "attacking" you? "Need a dictionary"? (I used google's dictionary for 'speculation')
And your wrap up... yikes.
You say you understand my position/background and that I don't understand yours. Let's say I claim the exact opposite. How do we establish who is correct?

For my motivation: I wrote that post to correct possible misconceptions (not necessarily incorrect facts per say) a reader of this thread might get upon reading your posts.

btw: If the vast majority of people don't understand your position than either: A. You aren't very good at explaining it. B. You do not have sound reasons for having it. C. It is very very complicated.
Are you claiming C?
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