The Book of the History of Elementary Particles of The Bible According to Einstein

The Historical Development of Elementary Particle Physics

The tenth book of Chronicles

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134                        The Bible According to Einstein

The tenth book of Chronicles, called

History of Elementary Particles127

They are tiny and invisible.

Chapter I: Quantum Mechanics History

And in 1900, it came to pass that Max Planck proposed a constant.128 It was not then known that the quantum revolution had begun. It was not known then that the world would never be the same again.
     And in 1911, Ernest Rutherford shot heliums129 at thin gold foil. Now almost every helium did pass straight through. But one in twenty-thousand heliums were deflected greatly. And there was revelation in these events so precious and so few, for the heliums must have struck a tiny concentrated object in the foil – the nucleus, an atom’s heart, had been discovered. And so a new understanding of the atom’s inner structure was achieved.
     And in 1913, the shell model of the atom was described by Niels Bohr. Ten years later, Louis-Victor de Broglie proposed that particles130 behave both like particles and waves. And scientists began to understand the quantum world a little more. Then in 1926, Erwin Schrödinger introduced his quantum wave equation.131 And the quantum revolution then was underway.

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127 This section assumes knowledge of elementary particles. For the basic concepts and definitions of scientific terms, see the Book of Subnuclear Physics.
128 This constant would come to be known as the Planck constant. It controls the strength of quantum effects.
129 More precisely, they were alpha particles, which are the nuclei of helium atoms.
130 Particles are extremely tiny objects, smaller than an atom and invisible to the human eye, such as the alpha particles of Rutherford’s gold foil experiment.
131 This equation governs quantum mechanics. See Chapters VI-VIII of the Book of Quantum Mechanics.

 
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The New Testament                                       135

Chapter II: The Early Particles

And it came to pass that in 1928 Paul A. M. Dirac wrote down the relativistic quantum wave equation to describe electron motion. Now the equation had a mysterious consequence, for it predicted the existence of another particle like the electron but positively charged. Thus the theory prophesied an antiparticle, the positron – it was the "positive electron," a new state of matter, which was antimatter.
     And in 1931, careful measurements were made on beta nuclear decay.132 And behold, energy seemed not to be conserved in this unusual decay. And suddenly a fundamental law of Nature seemed invalid – would then one need to rewrite one commandment of the ten? Now among the physicists, there were those who no longer did believe and there were those who still believed in the conservation of energy. And Wolfgang Pauli was one of those who still believed. And so he postulated the existence of a light uncharged, seemingly invisible particle and called it a neutrino. And he proposed, in beta nuclear decay, that the neutrino carried off the "missing" energy.
     And experiments conducted by Carl David Anderson in 1932 produced the positron. And so it came to be that the prediction of a "scientific prophet" was confirmed.133

     And in that same year, it happened that James Chadwick made the nuclei of helium and of beryllium react. And a neutral particle with the mass of a proton was emitted – the neutron was discovered.
     And in 1934, when Enrico Fermi formulated a theory of nuclear beta decay, the foundations of weak interactions were established. Now for a while, Fermi theory would be enormously successful. But flaws eventually would be uncovered: The first flaw would be found in 1957. And physicists would repair the defect by modifying the weak theory’s laws. And for more than a decade, the theory would explain the weak-decay experimental data. But in the early 1970’s, scientists would discover further flaws. And a new theory of weak interactions would be proposed with very different properties for processes involving highly energetic particles.
     And in 1934, it came to pass that man made the first man-made fissions. Thus man did do what Nature sometimes does: Man split the atom.
     And in 1935, Hideki Yukawa hypothesized that certain particles were the mediators and creators of strong force, which is the force holding nucleons together in a nucleus.134 And he called these particles the pions. Now in 1936, a new particle was discovered in the cosmic rays streaming down to Earth from outer space. And it was thought to be the pion. But experimentalists had been misled and physicists were wrong. It would take some years for them to realize their mistake, for the muon135 had been found instead.

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132 This process in which an electron is emitted by the nucleus is described in Chapter IV of the Book of Nuclear Physics.
133 It took only four years for Dirac’s prediction to be confirmed.
134 A nucleon is a proton or a neutron. See Chapter II of the Book of Nuclear Physics.
135 A muon is a heavier version of an electron. See Chapter IV of Particle Physics.

 
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136                        The Bible According to Einstein

     And it came to pass that in 1942 the first self-sustaining man-made chain reaction was achieved – nuclear power now was possible. And in 1945, the power verily was put to use – scientists in America produced the first atomic bomb. And the United States did drop "the bomb" on Hiroshima and on Nagasaki. The age of mass-destruction weapons had begun. And man was given in his hands the power to destroy himself on a large scale.

Chapter III: The Post World War II Years

And in 1947, pions were discovered in the cosmic rays from outer space. And the prediction of existence of the pion was confirmed. But Yukawa’s prediction at a fundamental level would be proven wrong, for gluons, not the pions, would turn out to be the microscopic mediators of the subatomic forces of the strong.
     Then kaons were discovered in the cosmic rays. Now kaons should have decayed to pions relatively rapidly. But this was not the case. And scientists did think this strange. And so the kaon was assigned a property called "strange." Now strangeness explained why kaons did not readily decay to pions: Strangeness was like electric charge; it could neither be created nor destroyed at least in processes proceeding by nuclear strong forces. And since kaons carried strangeness and pions didn’t, a kaon could not vanish into pions without violating conservation of strange charge. Now strangeness would, three decades later, be explained – it would come from the strange quark which the kaon would contain.136
     And it came to pass that in 1948 the pion was produced by man in an accelerator. And this marked a monumental moment, for henceforth man would be a particle creator. Throughout the early 1950’s, physicists would manufacture many particles with strangeness. And during the next fifty years, even more particles, both strange and not, would be detected and produced. Thus man began to make the particles that Nature made during the Big Bang and its aftermath.
     Then in 1954, the non-abelian gauge theory was invented by R. L. Mills and C. N. Yang.137 Now to most physicists, it seemed of little value, but for theorists it was cryptic and esthetic, possessing limitless amounts of symmetry.
     And in 1956, for the first time did scientists detect directly the neutrino – some twenty-five years after its existence had been postulated. And the prediction of another prophet was confirmed. And the conservation of energy, the Sixth Commandment, thus was saved.

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136 A particle has strangeness if it contains a strange quark. Quarks are the components making up a large class of particles called hadrons. Protons, neutrons, pions and kaons are all examples of hadrons. See Chapter X of the Book of Subnuclear Physics.
137 It was not known then that, a decade and a half later, non-abelian gauge theories would be the basis for the Standard Model of particle physics, for such theories would describe all subatomic interactions.

 
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The New Testament                                       137

     And in 1957, a particular weak-force decay of cobalt-sixty was observed, and yet the analogue decay, as would be in a mirror seen, did not occur. And scientists around the world pondered mirrors and become confused, for hitherto was it thought that mirror-imaged processes in Nature always could proceed. Suddenly, "Nature’s mirrors" were seen as broken and precisely broken in two pieces, for the mirror-image of a fundamental process did not necessarily take place. Now for physicists, it was a moment of reflection and of revelation – a physics law, which had been tacitly and universally assumed as true, was wrong. The law was broken and badly broken, for the weak force was maximally non-symmetric under mirror-space reflection.138 So it be – Nature did not possess this a priori fundamental symmetry. And theorists built a new weak-interaction theory which incorporated mirror-space-reflection violation.
     And in 1962, the muon’s neutrino was detected by the Brookhaven accelerator on Long Island. And the second of Nature’s three neutrinos was observed – the elusive, almost "invisible" nu-mu was seen.

Chapter IV: The Recent Developments

And it came to be that in 1963 constituents for protons and for neutrons were proposed. And the constituents were provided with a name. And the name was quark. Now quarks were predicted to have unusual properties such as possessing fractional electric charge. And quarks could be combined in threes to produce eight baryons – six possessing strangeness, plus the neutron and the proton. But quarks could also be combined in threes to produce a group of ten – but, as of 1963, only nine such baryons had been observed by man. And a name was given to the missing baryon. And the name was the Omega. And one year later, Omega was discovered with a mass in remarkable agreement with theoretical predictions. Now the quarks and antiquarks could also be combined to yield mesons. And such mesons should come in a set of eight – they were the three pions, the four kaons and the eta. And because there was a group of eight for mesons and a group of eight for baryons, the quark theory was nicknamed the "Eightfold Way."
     And in the late sixties, electromagnetism and the weak force were united in a single theory. Soon thereafter, quantum chromodynamics and the unified electroweak theory became the basis of the Standard Model of the particles.139 And the theory predicted the existence of some heavy particles, the Z and W, whose exchange led to the nuclear weak force.

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138 Mirror-space reflection is called parity by physicists.
139 The Standard Model of particle physics would provide the basis for all the fundamental forces except gravity.

 
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138                        The Bible According to Einstein

     Now it happened that the Standard Model was inconsistent unless a new quark did exist. And in the year of 1970, theorists gave the hypothesized particle a name. And it was called the charm quark. And although theorists predicted its existence, they could not predict its mass. Now at this time, this quark was the fourth; the others were the up, the down and strange. And using accelerators, experimentalists began to hunt for charm.
     And a few years later and some ten years after the conception of the quark and of the Eightfold Way, high-energy experiments indirectly sensed the quarks. And the electric charges of the quarks were measured. And they were fractions – in fact they were the fractions that the theorists had predicted. Again had scientific prophets spoken, and their truths had been confirmed. Now with the insights provided by experimental data, theorists constructed a theory of strong interactions. And the theory was assigned a name. And the name was quantum chromodynamics, or QCD. And it explained the underlying interactions of the quarks. It was a simple theory to write down. But the calculations from the quantum gauge equations were quite difficult,140 and the consequences were not fully known.
     And it happened that in 1974 the charm quark was produced. And the prediction of some scientific prophets was confirmed.
     Then in 1975, experimentalists produced a new third lepton.141 And it was called the tau. But the tau lepton was not light like the electron and the muon – the tau weighed more than a neutron or a proton.
     And in the year 1977, it came to be that accelerators produced a fifth new quark, the bottom quark, which was also called the beauty quark. And experimentalists began to study forms of matter holding beauty.
     Now the Standard Model with just a bottom quark was inconsistent, for quantum mechanics, it turns out, requires quarks to come in pairs. Up and down were paired. Strange and charm were paired. But bottom was unpaired. And so the presence of a fifth quark meant there had to be a sixth. And the hypothesized sixth quark was called the top. Now the top quark was also called the truth quark. And experimentalists began a search for truth.

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140 Twenty years of subsequent theoretical analysis and numerical computation with the most powerful computers have yielded only partial insight into how quarks bind together in a proton and a neutron. However, the first concrete indication that quarks might be confined was uncovered by Kenneth G. Wilson in 1974. In 1982, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics for another contribution – a deeper understanding of phase transitions.
141 The other two leptons are the electron and the muon.

 
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The New Testament                                       139

     And in 1983, CERN, a powerful accelerator near Geneva, Switzerland, produced the W and Z. And their masses were precisely the expected masses. Now fourteen years had passed since theorists had predicted the existence of the W and Z. Thus the mediators of the nuclear weak force had been finally uncovered. And the predictions of some scientific prophets were confirmed.
     And in Fermilab in Batavia, Illinois, the top quark was detected in 1995 – the partner of the bottom did indeed exist. And after eighteen years of searching, experimentalists had found the top. And the elusive search for this small bit of truth so ended – both the theorists and the experimentalists had triumphed and prevailed. And the top quark assumed its position in the lower left corner of the Table of the Fundamental Matter. And with the top quark in this place, the Standard Model was again consistent in a quantum way.142
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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142 Discoveries in the second half of the twentieth century in particle physics concerning Nature at its most fundamental level led to Nobel Prizes in physics:
    Chen Ning Yang and Tsung-Dao Lee in 1957 for their theoretical investigations into parity violation.
    Emilio Gino Segre and Owen Chamberlain in 1959 for the discovery of the antiproton.
    Sin-Itiro Tomonaga, Julian S. Schwinger and Richard P. Feynman in 1965 for contributions to the construction of the theory of quantum electrodynamics.
    Murray Gell-Mann in 1969 for the classification of elementary particles based on quarks and the Eightfold Way.
    Burton Richter and Samuel C. C. Ting in 1976 for the discovery of the charm quark.
    James W. Cronin and Val Logsdon Fitch in 1978 for the discovery of violations of fundamental symmetries in the decay of kaons.
    Sheldon L. Glashow, Abdus Salam and Steven Weinberg in 1979 for the unification of the weak and electromagnetic interactions.
    Carlo Rubbia and Simon Van der Meer in 1984 for the discovery of the W and Z.
    Leon M. Lederman, Melvin Schwartz and Jack Steinberger in 1988 for the discovery of the muon’s neutrino.
    Jerome I. Friedman, Henry W. Kendall, and Richard E. Taylor in 1990 for work on the experimental confirmation of quantum chromodynamics.
    Marlin L. Perl in 1995 for the discovery of the tau lepton.
    Frederick Reines in 1995 for the discovery of the neutrino.

 
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