Talk:Particle physics/Archive 1

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Following the recent changes by CYD of the introduction, I repeat there is a problem in having 'particle physics' (which indeed refers to high-energy physisc) be a redirection for 'particle' (which arises in low-energy physics as well).


I need some help here. where does antimatter exactly fit in here? I want to explain the physics, but need some help

Mike Dill


Every particle (sort of) has an antiparticle. All the leptons/quarks/neutrinos you have mentioned have antileptons/quarks/neutrinos (indicated by a bar above the letter). They are almost identical but have one opposite feature, usually charge (electron/positron). I hope this is what you meant --sodium.

Always charge, not just electromagnetic but weak and color as well, plus spin. Whether gravitational mass is reversed is unknown.


Someplace I read about "Dark Matter" presumed to be nearly 70%(don't hold me to this) of all matter in the Universe. anyone know about this ? ~BF

Sure. I'll put some notes on Dark matter, and someone else can add to them later.

Note there's already a (short) Dark matter problem article. -- DrBob

Aaa, too late. That's what happens when articles have non-obvious names without redirects set up. I think the content has been entirely subsumed, so I'll just redirect it.


I'd like to see a list of every known subatomic particle... does such a list exist anywhere? Who decides on the names given to particles? Is there an official nomenclature decided by some body, like the IAU does for astronomical bodies or IUPAC for chemical compounds? -- SJK

your question has been posted to sci.physics.particle - MMGB :-)
All known particles, or all elementary particles? The length of the list would change by about two orders of magnitude depending on which you mean... -- Xaonon

I created a image file of all the elementary particles for this page and uploaded it to my personal website. If you think it is worthwhile adding to the Wikipedia then say so, or if you think changes are necessary, say that too. - MMGB

I'll let the real physicists comment on this, but I am wondering about some things: firstly, why is the colour charge 0 for some particles, but blank for others? What is the difference between 0 or blank? Also, why are we giving values 0 or 3 for colour charge? They aren't colour charges -- they are the number of different colour charges the particle can have. Wouldn't it be better to say something like "RGB" or blank? Or mark them as strongly interacting or not?
Secondly, the diagram gives the impression that the gluon and photon are somehow connected with quarks, and the W and Z bosons with leptons. I understand why that is so for gluons, W and Z bosons, but why is the photon linked with the quarks? -- SJK

--- Changed the sentence about non-linear waves. Particle-wave duality is something that needs its own entry, but the change was necessary because particles are *NOT* non-linear waves. They are perfectly linear (at least when they are a wave) -- Chenyu



Umm who wrote the that last paragraph (the one about different generations being excited states)? It's totally wrong, so I deleted it. A muon (for example) is NOT an excited state of an electron. Whoever the author is seems to be confusing quark (and neutrino) mixing with particles being excited states. This is not the case. Also I rewrote some of the stuff about quark confinement. The fact that gluons self interact is *not* the sole reason that quarks are confined. If it was then electrons would be confined, because W and Z bosons self interact as well. -- Matthew Nobes


The concepts of "zoo" and "foundation ontology" are now restricted to the second paragraph, which is a bunch of links to the other articles that try to describe what particle physics "means" in a larger sense than "motivating more particle physics". In the text on atomism, "foundation ontology" has been generally replaced with "theory of matter" which might need a more general treatment of its own... unless we are agreed that this discussion of "theory of matter" must itself be contained in w:foundation ontology (which might be best as a much more specific article much as it is now) - although personally I think "theory of matter" falls under "w:cosmology" quite clearly.

Presumably, someone who reads this article is either interested in PP for its current standard model, its current controversies, or "what it means and whether it's real and if so how real is it". That latter group should now fork off with the second paragraph's links to what really interests them, while those who wish to understand or dispute the standard model continue on without the more controversial terms visible at all. This reads well now, and I am satisfied with the compromises. - 24


Every college in the country, and most of those in the world, studies a subject called "particle physics", and which talks about the standard model, and possibly some alternative or objections to it. This article is a good reflection of that standard subject, and deleting it wholesale is silly. I don't really care whether one anonymous user doesn't like it. You have zero credibility here, and will continue to until you get with the program and behave like an adult. --LDC

You do not assign credibility, nor "adult". This article has been defined by Mr. 213 as the center of the universe, with such redirects as "Standard Model" (as if there aren't standard models in *EVERY* science), attempting to defined "Scientific Method" as "reproducibility", and simply destroying the difficult consensed work that Axel Boldt and I (24) did with the anti-reductionist physics advocate to nail down what was meant by particle physics [as a] foundation ontology. 213 is disrespecting at least these three people, insulting all who take w:philosophy of science seriously, and your defense of this behavior is as bad as your defense of Axel Boldt's math fetishism. Axel and I eventually settled down to a quite good consensus, and to shove it all in "particle physics" or all in "foundation ontology" or all in "cosmology" isn't respectful of the people who want to just read what particle physicists think now, *without* being forced to assume it defines the foundations of the universe.
if there is an assignment of credibility here, it will be inverse to yours, LDC, as you are defending the indefensible over and over and over again, as a matter of habit or intent. Now, if you do not undo 213's damage as well, you are taking sides on a matter that frankly you are not a good judge of, and I suspect that you should stay out of it, and cease defining credibility.
the debate that is/was in w:particle physics foundation ontology is not central to particle physics or even physics, but affects other fields or choices, and keeping it all here or deleting it will simply make this article highly volatile. You are destabilizing the wiki by defending 213's irresponsible changes, and neither his changes nor your objections will stand.

I am not the only one questioning your credibility; I'm just the one doing most loudly and publicly. If you participated here like other members, you'd see that. You have the right to be anonymous, but you have to suffer the consequences to your credibility that that entails. Anything you write

I'm not asking for "credibility" - quite the opposite, I'll spend any credibility or reputation what I get doing something else necessary to do. Reputation is best tied to our unique creative theses, not our observations of the obvious... but that too is a cosmology and you dont have to accept it for purposes of this debate.

that isn't specifically credited to a book or journal is assumed to be your personal opinion, and your opinions don't matter here, because we know who you are. Secondly, the idea that "particle physics" is an "ontology" belongs in articles about philosophy and ontology, not physics. If you want

this is reductionism - and admitted cultural bias - "your opinions don't matter here, because we know who you are." <-- very good, so Greens don't count and those who can get larger nuclear weapons do. Do you really want this project *destroyed* rather than fixed? If so keep talking like that.
assuming that this is more of your usual royal polemic, the word "ontology" is extremely widely used in category theory, computer science, and theology, and means the same thing in those fields much as "cosmology" does in various other fields. There is even some consensus on "morals", the third component of theology. As a citizen of a developed nation, I have some right to claim that "particle physics" is pulling resources away from things I believe in - but more importantly, that the fact that it *does* get used as a hard-to-validate w:foundation ontology creates a clique or cult of physicists... and those who support them like yourself. The "zoo" (to use the standard term that Axel hates so much) is at least a "schema" and when it claims the status of "Standard Model" monopolistically in this encyclopedia, it claims a central position in the wiki cosmology. I am going to defeat that claim - and I am not going to allow you to simply define the PP *ZOO* as the center of the universe. Nor use a 51% dominance of the physics use of Standard Model on the web as an excuse for this coup, while you simultaneously deny that the 654,000 hits for "meme" fail to establish a larger discourse than that of Dawkins and Blackmore. Surely even you can see your own bias here.

to put a link here to philosophy articles, that's fine, but don't clutter the main article with it. It may well be that this "213" fellow has damaged the article as well--I'll look into that. --LDC

he appears not to have changed *Axel's* version. But that version removed most of the incentive to keep the article separate. I submit that taking all mention of non-physics implications out of the article, then moving it into "particle physics" itself, and then removing links even to philosophy of science, is an attempt to render the PP Standard Model as Foundation Ontology of wikipedia itself. As a claimed-competent "encyclopedia editor" you should be very very very very cautious about allowing anyone to do that.
all this talk about foundation ontology is just mumbo jumbo. It's called 'standard model' because it is a model and the theory based on it seems to explain all the experiments. That's different from saying that it is the truth. You seem to have a separate argument about whether or not Particle Physics as a discipline is a worthwhile way to spend money. There are compelling ways to make that argument, but inventing a 'particle physics foundation ontology' as a straw man is not one of them. -- Olof
I will say this one more time. You are *right*, there are two different arguments here. And there were two separate articles until 213's merge after Axel's censurious edit (which I did not object to as long as the articles were kept separate so that two different standards of rigor could apply to arguments therein). If anyone "invented" this "straw man" it was Eli Yudkowsky, but he referred to it as *THE ONLY ONTOLOGY* in his own work, and clearly he does not define w:ontology as such... nor w:foundation ontology which is a term widely shared in comp sci and DB work. So what did he actually refer to ? The w:particle physics foundation ontology, usually called w:particle zoo or w:particle ontology for brevity - but those terms offended or were unspecific, so a blanket term was needed. Debate turned up no better term than "PPFO" which was carefully explained as a coined term constructed from various other debates without originality.

To 24.x: Do a Google search for "Standard Model" (with the quotes) and see what you get. Language is defined by usage.
You might indeed get that from 51%+ of the web, but that has a lot to do with the people using the web. And language is not defined by web usage alone. Also, 654,000 hits on "meme" were insufficient to convince LDC that this was a larger set of theories than Dawkin's definition of memetics... so there are double and triple standards of evidence here, and an obvious hierarchy where physicists, then mathematicians, get to define reality. I submit that is characteristic only of a certain Western academic culture, and not characteristic of all net users, and certainly not of all people on this planet.
Note that I took essentially all the text from your particle physics foundation ontology article (which, by that time, was essentially about the philosophical and political ramifications of particle physics) and edited it into the particle physics article. I redirected "Standard Model" to the particle physics article, because that article talks about the Standard Model. I even added a subhead, to show which bit is the standard model. Not all of particle physics is the Standard Model -- if the SM was disproved tomorrow, particle physics would be different, not disproved; and there would be a new Standard Model of particle physics.
it was not *my* article, it was Axel Boldt's rewrite that you copied into particle physics - and I do not object to every believer in particle physics being forced to read all those objections - quite the contrary - I just sincerely believe that this confuses two totally separate problems. One being the *perfection* of particle physics, and the other being its *relevance* as a w:foundation ontology. For instance, the anti-reductionists are basically saying that emergent properties matter more and nothing an accelerator can produce can matter now. That's an argument that the entire field should not exist! That point of view is now quite poorly represented after Axel's edit.
Note that when I over-wrote one of youe edits by accident, I pulled the missing para from the history, and edited it back in -- without the reference to particle physics foundation ontology, as that material was now in the same article.
apology accepted, but why did you remove links to "philosophy of science" in that same paragraph - this appears to be an attempt to render PP beyond scrutiny as a philosophy of learning about the universe - whether you intend that or not...
Note that I did not delete the reference to foundation ontology as that looks to be a good place to discuss the whole concept of 'foundation ontologies'.
it is, but it is *not* a good place to discuss the whole concept and impact of the Particle Physics Foundation Ontology, for the same reason that the article on Cosmology is a poor place to discuss all implications of Christian Cosmology or Big Bang Cosmology. If we want to keep most of the issues with PP practices here, and create a much smaller PPFO article (or "particle physics zoo" or "particle ontology" to use the common terms which are misleading) that's fine - but we do need two separate articles.
I am not trying to remove your work; I am trying to place it in context, in articles with the names that people who work in the field use.
If that's the case, 213, then that was in fact a mistake. Issues of philosophy belong in a separate article, possibly linked from this one, but not mangled with it. This article should just be about physics, and mainly about the standard model because that's what physics departments study. --LDC
agreed, and that is exactly why the original article with the long name "particle physics foundation ontology" (which the anti-reductionist physics advocate never disputed as legitimate) then we must have either "particle ontology" or "particle zoo" or better "particle physics ontology" - with the claim that *some* people (like Axel) use the PPZ/PPO as if it were a w:foundation ontology. I'm agnostic on the name except insofar as the foundation ontology concept itself is much much more general and verges on defining the terms in which cosmology itself is discussed...
look, this is tough stuff, consensus is hard to reach since it's all cross-cultural, and the process of agreeing is political and prone to upset. We should start "At the top" with cosmology, now that we agree that "particle physics" includes a wide range of controversies that you, Axel and LDC presumably all agree on. My issues with the limits of what you now have written here can be settled by links to the appropriate articles with the detailed debates that none of you seem to want to have in this one article... fair enough. But that forces us back up "to the top" to settle what questions cosmology is concerned with, what cosmology and ontology have in common (my claim being that they overlap only and completely in the idea of foundation ontology and that cross-cultural cross-field usage reflects this, notably through computer science use of the term to create databases). So "names that people who work in the field use" must include category theory and computer science for this to ever be settled... not just the names that physicists or theologians (who have historically not agreed) use.

'LDC in apparent response to 213's desire to 'place it in context, in articles with the names that people who work in the field use.

Please go right ahead -- I'm tired of editing this stuff, and I'd like to get back to writing articles.

me, too - 24.

Let's put the other stuff in an article with a title like 'philosophy of science', 'politics of science' or something else descriptive of its contents. Just not 'particle physics foundation ontology', please, which is neither descriptive, nor used anywhere else on the entire Web (see below).

many alternative names were discussed, of which "particle ontology" was the most common in use. however, we are talking physics particles not dust particles, and no one would care about this if the claim were not made that this ontology is a foundation for the other sciences. Article about that claim should thus be called "particle physics foundation ontology" as it was.

I'm not trying to kick anyone around,

this is very much in doubt given your "zero credibility", "adult" and "counts for nothing" comments. Your attitude reminds me of Marilyn Waring's arguments in "Counting for nothing" regarding economic culture bias.

I am trying to organise things in meaningful categories and to remove entirely idiosyncratic personal research only where appropriate -- and as little as possible. See my edit comments for details.

believe me, when you see "entirely idiosyncratic personal research, it will not get 654,000 hits, nor zero. Those are consequences of complexity and controversy, respectively, and both quite notable in and of themselves.

http://www.google.com/search?q=%22particle+physics+foundation+ontology%22

compare and contrast with

http://www.google.com/search?q=%22foundation+ontology%22

then try http://www.google.com/search?q=%22particle+ontology%22
then try http://www.google.com/search?q=%22particle+zoo%22
The most widespread (but according to Axel not neutral) term is "particle zoo". I was *forced* into the terminology "ppfo" by this and other objections which I successfully anticipated - and I always said I was willing to accept "particle ontology", "particle physics standard model as foundation ontology", "particle physics zoo" or any totally obvious or well known phrase to avoid any accusation that I defined it into existence. But I think we may all agree that Eli Yudkowsky rather than I defined it into existence, and that none of you fetishists have so far said you disagree that it exists:

The best I can determine, the phrase comes from my friend Eliezer Yudkowsky,

absolute nonsense. look up the whole history of w:foundationism in logic, and w:ontology in theology, and the fusion of the two is quite obvious especially in w:cosmology. It's very common in comp sci, DB and category theory, and it's totally politicized. You have not done the search if you claim this - or you don't see the implications of the other foundation ontologies proposed in law etc.
You see, you're not even coherent enough to understand what I'm saying.
it's your definition of "coherent" that is in question, not my understanding. I have been able to respond in great depth and detail to many many specialist concerns on this topic which is not a specialty of mine, suggesting that my comprehension of the "PP as FO" issue is vastly greater than yours, although I may not be able to rhyme off the "PPSM" as quickly nor to rationalize that "scientific method" is somehow only about "reducibility" and "falsifiability" (clearly that's Popper cosmology which is Aristotle redux).
Of course there has been ontology and foundationism and such, but the fact that the combination of the two might be "obvious" to you has nothing to do with the fact that the phrase "particle physics foundation ontology" is not a real field of study, but a term created by Eli for a specific paper within his field. What's "obvious" to you is still original research and personal opinion, no matter how obvious it is or how important you think it is.
it's obvious to any, like "viral meme" or "viral license". We searched quite a bit for another neutral term, didn't we? and we didn't find one.
I know what an encyclopedia is, and what degree of shared viewpoint is required to assume something real. This is not "original research" as Eli Yudkowsky made the same claim as you, that it was "our shared ontology" meaning broadly all human beings'. Nor is it "personal opinion" since three people agreed it existed: me, Axel Boldt, and the anti-reductionist physics advocate, whoever that was. So belief in each is shared by 3 people out of the few hundred contributing on any regular basis, that's about 1% of the sample we can draw on. That's fair enough to make the claim that we know what it is and that it impacts other things.

an AI researcher, who uses it specifically in the context of his own research.

you cannot simply refer to Yudkowsky as an AI researcher - he's clearly also an ontologist competing with w:Hakim Bey or w:Sandy Stone or w:David Bohm to characterize the universe in terms of one foundation. His work has implications. Those implications reach as far as Bey's or Stone's or Bohm's. I can list them all in w:foundation ontology but the many many issues and questions around Yudkowsky's (and your) PPFO should be an article of their own - written "for and by the enemy" of the point of view that says that it can safely be assumed and exploited in persuasion technologies, i.e. "AI".

Likewise, it's clear that most of this "24" fellow's stuff is his own personal opinion and research, and doesn't belong here at all without attribution.

there you go again. What's clear is that the vast majority of articles I've written have been acceptable as written or with minor edits and attributions. This issue is controversial because of your shared bias in favor of physics and mathematics pet processes as ways of knowing the world. I am competent enough in these fields to fiercely dispute those claims and act as advocate for "the three billionth person on Earth"... who simply does not and will never share the cosmology common to physicists now.
Again, what's "clear" to you is beside the point. I don't think there is even one article of yours that is remotely useful, but that's just my opinion and I'm still willing to debate here because you do come up with an interesting idea now and then.
you don't "think", period. What you do is "quack". And I have "come up with" nothing - certainly not any "ideas" - "idea" is a label used to discard a model or principle by marginalizing it.

But he's consistently ignored my suggestions to title articles with specific credits, as in "George Lakoff's views on ontology" or "Margaret Thatcher's views on memetics",

there's no point in such specific articles, other than to marginalize widely shared opinions as if they were specific only to certain people.
If they're "widely shared", then you won't mind listing dozens of links to people who share them; otherwise, they're specific and idiosyncratic.
cliques define "specific and idiosyncratic" in terms of their own shared w:groupthink and w:cosmology. To me, your assertion that "Standard Model" in English must refer to the PPSM, is "specific and idiosyncratic", while my assertion that the term "meme" means something well beyond Dawkins' or Blackmores' limited and untestable non-theses is backed by 654,000 hits. Let's be frank, it won't matter how many links I list if you have wrapped up your self-esteem in a particular w:foundation ontology. I might as well tell a Roman Legionaire that his Emperor is not a God...

and he does have an occasional rational thought hiding in those reams of rambling, so I'm inclined to let him babble on talk pages until he can convince the group that something in the standard articles might actually be worth changing.

if I don't understand the subject at least as well as the PhD practitioners and top theorists I discuss it with, I keep my comments in talk.
If you can put there names here next to their quotes, that would serve to give the comments some credibility. Otherwise, we just have to assume that you're deluded.
this was a reference to other topics, e.g. w:anti-globalization movement wherein the majority of people cited do in fact have PhDs - but not a vast majority.
note I have not touched a word of the w:particle physics article itself, but the current structure, which jams together the physics standard of evidence and the cultural standard, would force me to do just that... and almost certainly make statements that a physicist considers "not falsifiable". This is a deliberate conspiracy to make reasonable judgement appear "deluded" by holding it up to an unnecessarily high standard of proof. If a given article isn't held to one such standard, it's useless.

In the meantime, I'd feel a lot better if you logged in to the system too. I meant what I said about anonymous users having to face the consequences to their credibility. You seem to have your head screwed on straight, and I'd like to see you participate more fully in this process. --LDC

ah, so because 213 shares your personal cosmology, you "invite him into the club"... I hope you can see exactly what is going on here, and why it must fail in the long run.
I've "invited" you too many times, and you refuse. That's your choice, not mine.
no, it's not a "choice" but a necessary policy decision. Not only must there be at least a few formidable outsiders to prevent the group from falling into w:groupthink, but reputation itself is hazardous to such debates as these. Strong as my opinions on this matter are, they are not as strong as my opinions on a couple of other fields that I know rather better. Accordingly, it's unreasonable and foolish to strong associate my physical body or a more persistent identity to this particular argument - in the long run, I do not have the "fetish" interest in it that LDC or Axel Boldt do, nor the unquestioning belief in its cosmology Olof and 213 seem to share. In the long run, I will leave this topic ultimately up to you four to settle... and move on to more difficult topics where perhaps there will be a small clique agreeing with me where one of *you* finds yourself "outside the box" in arguing the prevalence of a particular belief in the world. When that happens, it would be effective for you to do as I have done, adopt a disposable identity so that whatever clique identity you seek to share with others, does not interfere with your doing the best job of devil's advocacy. Reputation ultimately and inevitably leads to groupthink - but it's a necessary evil perhaps around controversial topics where trust hierarchies prevail. But then, some of the folks here think a King is a figure in chess and significant mostly or only for that, so this argument may be lost on them...

You know, I actually agree to a certain extent that "devil's advocacy" can be effectively done anonymously, even though I'm personally more of the let-it-all-hang-out ethic. It's kind of odd that a poker player should have a strong moral stance against deception, but that's the way it is. But even when I once advocated that editing on the wiki be restricted to logged-in users, I had no reason to not to allow pseudonyms and I wanted "talk" pages to remain free.

personally I prefer making it easier to track my physical location and harder to track my persistent identity. That satisfies my requirement to share bodily risk with those who I allow to waste my time, and it also satisfies my requirement to acquire no persistent reputation whatsoever... good or bad. These are difficult questions of w:etiquette and they are particularly important to resolve now that there is no one single editor.

I'm even more inclined to think the present "everything is open style is working well, in general. That would be a fascinating discussion to have somewhere else sometime; hell, feel free to wander over to my wiki.

agreed on both counts - we *should* be *forced* to have this conversation, as we have, and our strong and opposing views must come out for wiki to work. I would love to know what Eli Yudkowsky thinks of all this debate, for one thing, and I wish his views were more clearly covered here as well.
But I think credibility still counts for something when it comes to scholastic work.
no doubt. But people must have the ability to make *some* bridges, and to trust *some* bridges made by others, else we don't even have the dictionary. Lack of citation or over-extension of claims is generally quite obvious in itself, and what we should do with those articles is give them longer and more specific names... preferably using the words the authors claim are important, when they are long enough not to interfere with common use.

This project has a specific goal that was the vision of a small group, and a larger group has grown around it to work together to do the hard work of realizing that vision. I happen to agree with that vision, and since Larry is no longer able to work on it himself, I have arrogated to myself some of his responsibility for project guidance. If I do a bad job, I'm sure the gang will let me know, both here and on the lists. I remain open to their reproach.

if you can identify some recognizable political model (e.g. absolute monarchy, constitutional monarchy, minarchy, anarchism, fascism, etc.) by which you would conceivably cede power to a successor, that would help much. But a "political" meta process would help differentiate between what is good for wiki, what is a cosmology you and Larry share, and what is the best way to serve the six billion people waiting to read every single line and immediately act on it without thinking.

For the time being, I have decided that discussion with you is sapping too much of my time and energy to be productive, so I'm going to avoid it. If you continue to post polemic material instead of work that is either (a) uncontroversial facts, names, dates, paper titles, etc., or (b) properly credited to well-known sources, I will just move it to talk or meta or delete it, and allow the group to judge my actions as they see fit. -- Lee Daniel Crocker, Thursday, April 4, 2002

if you consult someone besides yourself before determining what is actually "well-known", and make at least *some* effort to comprehend the perspective it is written from, and err in favor of article proliferation instead of mindless mergers that force articles to reflect too-broad standards of proof, this is not an objectionable stance on your part.
if, on the other hand, you prefer to use this polemic language of your own, and your own concept of "uncontroversial" without ever questioning it (some reference to w:Heidegger here would be appropriate, I expect you will fail.
I suggest you think very hard about the assumptions you have made re: the epistemology and ontology of this project, actively examine them, and come back at it with a fresh view. Personally I am surprised to find people in 2002 simultaneously claiming a need or value for particle accelerators and at the same time assuming it same to assume the zoo as a foundation ontology. Yudkowsky's view was, I thought, quite dead. But clearly, it is not, as at least three people here share it without any significant doubt... a cosmological clique has formed, and I repeat that we should settle some questions in talk:cosmology to avoid running into such stuff in future.

The total mass of such aggregates exceeds that of the components thanks to the binding energy and in fact each comes in a series of energy states.

Why is that? Shouldn't the bound particles have lower mass, since they are in a lower energy state? Just like a proton bound inside a nucleus weighs less than a free proton?


Removed this. It really doesn't belong in particle physics. (By the way, I was the person who brought up anti-reductionism in the first place).

=== Objections against particle physics as reductionism ===
Within physics itself, there are some objections to the extreme reductionist approach of attempting to explain everything in terms of elementary particles and their interaction. These objections are usually raised by solid state physicists. While the Standard Model itself is not challenged, it is held that testing and perfecting the model is not nearly as important as studying the emerging properties of atoms and molecules, and especially large statistical ensembles of those. These critics claim that even a complete knowledge of the underlying elementary particles will not give complete knowledge of atoms and molecules, knowledge that arguably is more important to us.
Reductionists typically claim that all progress in the sciences has involved reductionism to some extent.
Why does it not belong? It seems to be related to particle physics, no? Why can't a particle physics article also mention these objections? AxelBoldt
Perhaps because those are not objections to the science of Particle Physics, but rather objections to paying for Particle Physics research. I, for example, have the same issues with golf, but I know I shouldn't put "golf is not nearly as important as studying the emerging properties of atoms and molecules" on the golf page. Providing a link to a page like Government expenditure on basic research seems to be the right thing to do.
no, that is one of about seven or eight objections to particle physics, which include: 1. it's useless, because it describes nothing that we see in the macroworld and emergent properties determine everything we see 2. it's so expensive to test the Standard Model that we might as well just accept that there are limits to our experiments, imposed if only by ethics of how we spend public money 3. it's dangerous to assume a w:foundation ontology based on something that a tiny number of people claim to be able to verify like a cult of high priests (this may be an argument to keep testing, too) 4. physics is assumed to be radically autonomous and reinforces a cultural idea of helplessness against oh say bigger and bigger bomb yields and smarter and smarter specialists - a vicious cycle that must end at some point with some drastic change, either global atomic destruction or civilization collapse or anything else which reminds us we have choices 5. it's expensive and we should spend the money on something that has a chance of yielding value for the public, e.g. better blowjob research to help keep the peace and prevent the spread of AIDS in Africa 6. it amounts to religion, and deterministic and radically autonomous ideas about religion are destroying the world right now 7. other anti-reductionist arguments 8. other philosophical arguments ... there may even be other ethical arguments. And no other field has this many objections, so they all have to be discussed or documented *somewhere* here.
It belongs on a separate article on reductionism with maybe a link to it from particle physics. It involves particle physics, but it also involves biology, solid state physics and every other fields of science,and it wouldn't make any sense to put it into every one of those articles.
no, the particle physics objections are particularly virulent and important - biology, solid state physics, etc., do not claim to create a new w:foundation ontology every time they change a model, and they also have some "useful" side effects that PP does not have - and few of the hazards as above. The objections are *MUCH* wider than "reductionism"
(OK, I admit the golf example is a little overboard, but I think you get my point.) -- Olof
No, it isn't overboard, golf is a uniquely destructive game and has uniquely determined opponents - there is an w:Anarchist Golfing Association that tears up genetically-damaged grass, complaints by various NGOs that pressure to sell land to golf developers has led to farmers in the Phillipines being killed for it, that golf creates a monoculture ecology and requires massive maintenance and pesticides that destroy everything around it, and that all attempts to make it more ecologically friendly (i.e. more "rough" areas left alone, raised-bump balls that fly half as far on very small specially designed courses) have totally failed to catch on widely. All that specific stuff *does* and *will* go on the w:golf page. And if any other "game" becomes so emblematic and demonstrative of w:dominator culture that it has to be destroyed, then the page on that game will reflect that controversy. Golfers don't define what golf means, and physicists don't define what particle physics means, and there must at least in both cases be links to separate articles describing the entire controversy.

This is wrong. String theory is part of particle physics. Particle physics is not a theory, it is a branch of physics. It's just like saying theory X invalidates astronomy. Also, the writer does not understand the relationship between "fields" and "particles" and "wave-particle duality." The consensus is that the universe is composed of this "weird stuff" that sometimes acts like a particle and sometimes acts like a wave. It's not that there are two competing theories on this.


=== Challenges from theoretical physics ===
String theory models particles as vibrating circular strings in high dimensional spaces, and so challenges the claim that the elementary particles are the smallest possible structures. However, this no more invalidates particle physics than general relativity does Newtonian physics: the old theory remains as a first-order approximation in the conditions we observe everyday.
Some physics prefer a "field model" as opposed to a "particle model": ultimately, only fields are thought to exist. However, because of the wave-particle duality of quantum mechanics, it is unclear whether this is truly a different theory.

This also doesn't belong here.....

1) The Soviet Union was never particularly secretive about particle physics. This stuff actually has surprisingly few military applications.

agreed. That isn't the issue, but there was a cult of secrecy and some suspicion that each side was faking research fed to the other... worth a mention but not a big expansion.

2) The objection to reproducibility and falsifibility is not specific to particle physics and should belong on a separate page, unless there is

it was actually there until 213 moved it - Axel had cut this article on w:foundation physics foundation ontology (PP when used or assumed as an FO) back to what he thought was specific to physics, then it was all shoved in here.

someone outside of wikipedia has written papers in which they argue that the problems of reproducibility and falsifibility are specific to particle physics. There might not be too many particle accelerators but (1) a lot of the predictions of particle physics are testable without particle physics and (2) it's not a problem only with particle physics. There have been only four spacecraft to Saturn and none of them are there right now.

The late 20th century Cold War arms race prompted scientists in the United States, Soviet Union, and Europe to build particle accelerator technology to literally smash atoms into smaller and smaller bits. Although initially the Soviet Union did not share any beyond the most basic results, for military reasons, gradually tensions eased and particle physics became recognized as a product of "normal science" although only a very few experimental apparatus were capable of reproducing results.
Reproducibility and falsifiability are central concepts in the philosophy of science, and one may reasonably object to any theory which only a select few can ever test.
this is certainly an objection to PP specifically given the small number of accelerators and their immense cost...


If QM talks about point particles as well as fields then doesn't that make it inconsistent with reality? Because in reality, there are fields and fields only. There's simply no way for fields and particles, or theories based on them, to be equivalent in, say, the interference experiments.

If QM admits literal point particles then we should just forget about it and focus on QFT so that people get a more modern (as opposed to an ossified) view of particle physics. (Why is it that physicists seem to think people care about the history of physics, or about obsolete theories of physics?)

So I'm changing the article to reflect that. Someone can work QM back in if I'm wrong. -- Ark


You are wrong. Fields and particles are equivalent in modern QFT. You can get a perfectly good model of QFT by treating particles as point particles and then getting probability distributions by summing over all possible paths of the particle.

-- RoadRunner

Does that mean it doesn't work outside the path integral formalism?

Incidentally, has it been proved that the path integral formalism is equivalent to the wave and matrix formalisms? I don't see how that's possible since there is no rigorous definition of the path intergal formalism, or so I understand.


There are many different and equivalent ways of describing quantum field theory, and every textbook author has his own pet way of doing it. Describing QFT in term of probablities of interacting particles is a perfectly good way of doing it, and the different ways of describing QFT are mathematically equivalent.

Under some circumstances (i.e. compton scattering) viewing the experiment as the interaction of two point particles is the most natural way of getting correct answers. In electron and photon scattering experiments, the electrons and photons behave as point particles.

--RoadRunner

Describing QFT in terms of probabilities of interacting particles isn't mathematically rigorous. And if you do use the mathematical definition of 'probability' then you're no longer talking about point particles at all, just waves.

It as rigorous as anything else in QFT

Let me be clear. If by "describing QFT in terms of probabilities" you mean that the wavefunction isn't real but a "mathematical construct" that describes our knowledge of a real point-particle, then I think this sleight of hand is a foolish pretense which is holding back understanding of quantum mechanical phenomena among experts and on-experts alike.

Except that happens to be the way the world works. When a photon or an electron hits a photographic plate or scatter off each other, it behaves exactly like a point particle.
One of the problems with QM, is that there are a lot of simplifications that you can make to make it easy to understand, intuitive, and totally wrong. The edit that you made is one of them. The reason it's tough to understand is that is that the easy explanations contradict experiment. If one views particles are pure waves, then there is no way without a lot of handwaving of explaining Compton scattering or the photoelectric effect.

As far as formalisms go, I've only heard of wave equations, matrices, and vectors in Hilbert space (I'm sure I'm displaying my ignorance but oh well). Then there is the path integral. My understanding is that the first 3 are rigorously defined and have been proved equivalent, whereas the path integral has still not been proved equivalent to the others (or last I read about it anyways) and that despite 50 years of effort, no mathematically rigorous definition of it has been found (which doesn't show it's wrong but rather shows that the axiomatic program is pretty useless). -- Ark

Once you go into quantum field theory, things get way more complicated than wave equations or simple matrices. You start dealing with fields and operators whose properties are not very mathematically rigorous. All of QFT is mathematically fuzzy, which is probably a problem more with our understanding of mathematics than with QFT.


IMO, the bulk of the article should be a precise accounting of the field of particle physics as understood by particle physicists. All three of the QFT textbooks in my possession devote a significant chunk of their treatment to path integrals, and the consensus as far as I can see is that (i) path integrals are a valid (and occasionally indispensible) approach to QFT and (ii) the path integral and field approaches are equivalent. Then, if you wish to criticize the standard approaches particle physics or QFT, it would probably be best to explicitly put the objections in a separate section, and back them up with credible citations. -- CYD

I have no problem with the path integral formalism. I do have some observations though:

First, the path integral formalism admits a natural interpretation: many-worlds.

Second, the explanation of path integral and field approaches was severely deficient.

The description of QFT is deficient, but that's because no one (yet) has come up with a standard pedogological approach to QFT.
The description was deficient because it never mentioned QFT in the first place. It just said "QM" and "Wave-Particle duality" and left it at that. If it said QFT + path integrals, I would have been happy.

For example, it never explained what the particle-like versus wave-like properties were in each approach. In fact, I hazard to guess that few people would consider path integrals to be about point-particles at all if they only understood what they entail (ie, "particles" that explore all possibilities and interfere with each other). To me, it sounds like the only "particle" in the formalism is a mathematical trick; that you're slicing up a wave and treating each infinitesimal part of it separately. So you've just reinforced my conviction that it's waves all the way down. More than ever I'm convinced the Wave-Particle duality entry is worthless and needs to be completely rewritten. But hey, that's just my ignorant opinion. Even if people don't see it that way, the explanation that was on the page was sufficiently vague that it leaves open the Copenhagen interpretation (which is difficult to reconcile with either QFT or path integrals).

I suspect that your understanding of QM is flawed. When you do the right experiment you end up with a point on the screen which looks, acts, and smells like a point particle hitting the screen. You do a scattering experiment and the result looks, acts, and smells like one particle bouncing off another particle. So the particle in particle-wave duality isn't a mathematical trick, it's an experimental observation.
It's still a wave though; just highly localized. You can devise experiments to show objects with non-zero extent. You cannot do the same to show objects of zero extent. If your instruments are crude enough, any wave looks like a particle.
The Copenhagen interpretation isn't difficult to reconcile with QFT. I don't see the difficulty.

Third, the explanation was in fact so deficient that most non-experts would assume it was talking about Copenhagen. Most people associate "wave-particle duality" with Copenhagen for some reason (I have my own ideas who to blame, now's not the time). What people understand by the term is Huygens' wave theory versus Newton's corpuscular theory (this is a direct consequence of teaching history of physics in schools and pretending it has something to do with modern physics). That kind of misunderstanding should be killed with extreme prejudice.

I don't see the misunderstanding. Also my feeling is that a historical view of history is a very good approach especially with quantum mechanics and relativity. A lot of the time, people looks at QM and relativity and react with the "I don't understand why people make it so complicated, it's obvious that the solution to the answer is X." What is generally the case is that someone thought of X way back in the 1930s and it didn't work because of Y.
Do you want to teach the modern theory or do you want to defend yourself against criticism? By your own words, it's clear that "a historical view of [physics]" is not taught for its pedagogical value. I maintain that it has negative (not even zero) pedagogical value. It creates misunderstanding where none existed before. It creates the very problem you're complaining about! People only think QM and GR are complicated because they don't understand the concepts involved. Why is that? Because you never teach them. Instead, you spend all your time teaching the concepts of obsolete theories. And then you wonder why people bring up these obsolete theories? (Incidentally, familiarizing people with the basic concepts of QM and GR should be done at an early age, probably grade school.)
The misunderstanding is this: as far as particle physicists view the universe, there is QFT (fields only) and path integrals. They are equivalent. If there is wave-particle duality, it refers to the absolute equivalence between QFT and path integrals. It does not refer to any alleged duality between Huygens' theory and Newton's since they were never equivalent. They were competing theories and both lost, with ideas from Huygens' theory being used in succeeding theories. (That's another thing, the "historical approach to physics" butchers the history of physics. So it doesn't do a good job of teaching history either.) Further, Wave-particle duality does not refer to any general equivalence between "particle-like" and "wave-like" properties. And that brings up yet another point, talking about "particle-like" versus "wave-like" properties without explaining what those properties actually are, which ones can be reconciled with each other and which ones contradict each other, is another sure way to generate misunderstanding. If you're going to teach then teach damnit! Don't spread ignorance, confusion and lies in order to insulate yourself from criticism and then pretend that's "teaching".
Creating the problem by the "defensive" measures people take against it is a common flaw. A common example is beating children, which creates the discipline problems and acting out which it supposedly is a cure for.

I have no problem with what's to be explained (how can I? it's precisely what I advocate should be explained!) I just want to make sure it's explained clearly. -- Ark

Correctness is more important than clarity especially with QM. The problem with clear but wrong explanations is that they take on a life of their own (i.e. Gammov's explanation of mass increasing as you move closer to the speed of light, Sagan's views on the Library of Alexandria).

Did he explain mass increasing before or after 'mass' came to mean 'rest mass' exclusively?


On another note: I plan to move most of the description of the Standard Model to the Standard Model article. Are there any objections? Particle physics is not identically equivalent to the Standard Model, and there is much more that the article can talk about; restricting it to the Standard Model is cramping, I think. -- CYD


Good idea about standard model. Also about fields and path integrals. The concept of fields in QFT is extremely non-rigorous, and physicists do things with mathematics in QFT that are totally non-rigorous and non-systematized. Talk to a mathematician about renormalization and watch them run screaming from the room.

Physicists do this because they are trying to get predictions and the mathematical tools which are being used appear to give unambigious answers despite there non-rigorous, non-systematic nature. There is precedent for this. People were doing classical mechanics using calculus for about 200 years before someone developed a satisfactory axiomization of calculus. Presumably all of the tools that physicists use have rigorous foundations, we just don't know what they are right now. -- RoadRunner

If they do then physics theories are (parts of) formal systems, and theorems in Algorithmic Information Theory apply to it, so Chaitin's proof that unpredictability (let alone non-determinism) is unprovable by a finite set of observations applies. In that case, Copenhagen is anti-scientific gibberish and should die an ignonimous death. Hooray, can we break out the champagne yet? -- Ark

That doesn't make any sense. Just because something is mathematically unprovable doesn't make it false. It may be impossible to prove that the universe is random and non-deterministic. That doesn't mean that it isn't.

If the universe is bounded, it means exactly that. If not, then nondeterminism is still an anti-scientific assumption to make. Determinism has always been one of the cornerstones of science and Chaitin proved you never needed to assume anything else. Good enough for me. -- Ark

I don't know why the issues of Copenhagen etc. were brought up; they appear irrelevant to the issue at hand. Once again: the bulk of the article should be a precise accounting of the field of particle physics as understood by particle physicists. Since there is consensus among particle physicists that QFT supports wave-particle duality, the article should reflect this.

Given this, what exactly are the proposed changes to the articles? Let's discuss that, instead of wasting time arguing about peripheral issues. -- CYD

  1. concrete mention of path-integral and QFT, not QM in general
  2. comparison of what ideas are involved in path-integral versus QFT, especially regarding wave-like versus particle-like properties. For example, the extent of point particles is zero, of waves it's non-zero. I want concrete details, not useless platitudes like "wave-like".
  3. mention of wave-particle duality only as between path-integral and QFT
Except that I think you are under a misconception. Particle-wave duality does not refer to different mathematical formalisms. Particle-wave duality refers to an experimental fact that particles act like particles in some circumstances and waves in others. The current article on particle physics and particle-wave duality is factually accurate and I suspect that your objections come from a misconception of what the theory predicts. --RoadRunner

I don't agree that the path integral formalism is about particles actually. I'm prepared to let others make their own minds about that if a clear and accurate description is provided. So a breezy and prejudicial explanation of the path integral isn't going to cut it.

In particular, if you explain path integrals as one particle that simultaneously explores all paths, well I consider that absurd. If you consider it as one particle that splits up to explore all paths and then recombines, then the object of interest to physics isn't the individual particle which explored a specific path. Rather, the object of interest is the combination of all these individual particles, and that's a wave. -- Ark

The universe doesn't care what you consider absurd.

Let me give you my definition of absurd:

obviously self-contradictory.

Now tell me the universe doesn't care. Or perhaps you'd prefer "gibberish"?

I don't think that you understand what self-contradiction means.
In mathematics and physics self-contradiction means rigourously demonstrating that X implies not-X with very precise statements about what X means. If you can demonstrate that any of the popular formulations of QFT are self-contradictory, you can go to Sweden to collect your Nobel Prize. Self-contradiction does *not* mean X implies Y which appears to you to be obviously wrong.
And I don't think you understand what I was talking about.
Getting back to the Wikipedia. I'm largely convinced that the pages on QM and particle physics are good statements about what the theories are, and I'm largely convinced that your issues with the way that the pages read arise from your misconceptions about what QM and QFT. -- RoadRunner

And I'm largely convinced that the pages on QM are useless. Students and experts of QM only think they're good because they recognize lots of descriptions and language from textbooks and courses dedicated to the subject. But those descriptions don't actually communicate anything to non-experts, or at least nothing accurate, so the pages are useless. If the entries aren't for the edification of laypeople then who are they for? It's not like a student will base their education on them.

The pages as they are are just a defensive mechanism on the part of experts. They don't actually contribute to laypeople's knowledge but they intimidate them enough to shut them up. Are you sure that's sufficient to you? -- Ark

Are you taking the position that you do not understand quantum mechanics or quantum field theory and the pages make no sense to you? If that is the case, then feel free to list the areas which do not make sense to you, and we'll try to rewrite them so that they do make sense.
However, I suspect your position is that you do understand QM and QFT and you believe that the pages are misleading or incorrect. If this is the case, they there is no point in my discussing this further, since I believe that your understanding of QM and QFT is deeply flawed, and unless you admit there is the possibility that you don't understand QM and QFT, there's no basis for discussion on how to improve the article. -- RoadRunner

(Very Big Grin) I'm taking position #1. The fact that you don't believe I'd take it shows just how much laypeople are intimidated from speaking up around physicists. I also maintain that,

  1. laypeople deserve to understand the ontology of physics if they so wish it
  2. laypeople have better things to do than learn mathematics
  3. mathematics has little or no intrinsic relation to the ontology of physics

I do claim to understand a little of what QM is about; to have a great deal of that "superficial" knowledge which physicists so casually disdain (every intelligent person should be a physicist in the physicists' worldview!) But people don't need any "deep knowledge" to appreciate a color picture of the planets or a movie of a quasi-satellite's orbit. And astronomers never begrudge them if they don't want to learn any of that math.

In fact, physics is the only field of science where the experts are resentful when ordinary people demand explanations in comprehensible, clear, non-technical and accurate terms. It's the only field where a lifetime of amateur interest will net you less movies than you can count on the fingers of one hand (one of a cosmic string network, one of a particle in a box, a couple of black hole formation).

And contrary to your earlier claim that "everyone complains that physics is too complicated and then asks why some simpler theory doesn't work", I complain that it's actually simple and that you're making it complicated (as I accused earlier). I know what I had available to me by way of educational material when I was 12 and I know what I have now, and there's nothing I know now that I couldn't have learned back then if only it had been properly explained. Key concepts from non-linear wave mechanics are simple enough to be taught to children. So are spherical harmonics. When are they taught? My impression is never.

So you know what? I wish that university research were up for democratic vote. We all know what would happen then, something academics dread; all funding in physics research the world over would be withdrawn. That would cure the ivory tower mentality in a second.

Physicists have nothing to offer the world except a better understanding of it. When they don't provide that, they're useless.

If you can appreciate my rant then maybe this time you can respond to the issues I raised. They are,

  1. a single point-particle that simultaneously explores multiple paths is self-contradictory gibberish (unless you're willing to redefine space and time in ways that are completely beyond me). In contrast,
  2. a multitude of point-particles that simultaneously explore different paths is not "a particle" as most people understand the word "a", and the sum total of that multitude is a wave. Since the only thing that can ever be observed is the wave and not the individual "particles" that make it up, it seems like
  3. the path integral is a formalism about waves, that calculates their behaviour by analyzing infinitesimal parts of them, just like calculus. (And in calculus, we never talk about a "point-function duality"!)

Another matter,

I never did get feedback on whether my changes to the Copenhagen interpretation page are correct. I assume they are since I interpret no feedback as tacit approval. If I continue to get no feedback, I will believe that my understanding of the matter is essentially correct and will lord it over physics students who can't explain anything in language half as clear.

-- Ark (I also prefer non-standard analysis)

Since you want feedback, here it is. I think your modification of the CI article is not good. Outright removing information is very bad form on Wikipedia. The article as it stands is flawed, because it now reads like a rant against the Copenhagen Interpretation, rather than an informed and even-handed discussion of the topic.

I don't intend to argue with you, because that is unproductive; I am more interested in writing encyclopaedia articles. Wikipedia is an encyclopaedia, not a forum for original research. -- CYD

What! An argument against the Copenhagen Interpretation forming the bulk of the Particle physics article? That's not good and should not happen again. Deleting useful content on wikipedia is against wikipedia policy. Who decides what is useful? A majority of people who happen to chim in on the subject at the time. Iv'e seen what was deleted, and I deem that to be superior and more clear (read: useful) than the material that replaced it. --maveric149

Maveric, you're getting off half-assed. We're talking about the Copenhagen interpretation entry, not this one.

The debate over Copenhagen is between it and many-worlds. It's not between Copenhagen and Einstein's hidden variable theories, nor between Copenhagen and 19th century physics. If you want to explain the history of it, and I invite you to do so, then please make sure you note it as history, distinguish it from Copenhagen's current status, and please, please do a good job of it.

My understanding is that Copenhagen is strongly disfavored among cosmologists and theoretical fundamental physicists. If the article reads like a rant against Copenhagen then that merely reflects its present status among the relevant experts. -- Ark

mea culpa. All is well here since the diff I noted was reverted back to what it was before. I will check into the specific matter of CI tomorrow. --maveric149

I changed the article so it doesn't read like a rant.

And Maveric, if you want to judge the CI page fairly, then you should also read some of the arguments I made on the Talk page about the meaning of nondeterminism in Copenhagen. I deleted those arguments as obsolete long ago so you'll have to check the history. :)

Oh, and I deleted any historical details about Copenhagen because I don't know enough to explain the history, and there weren't enough details to make up a separate section. I also didn't think anyone would volunteer to explain it. -- Ark