Archive for January 6, 2009

Proposal: A Video “Periodic Table” of Elementary Particles

Yesterday, ZapperZ (Physics and Physicists) posted a note about a Period Table of Videos. Check it out – it is a lot of fun!

elementary particles in the standard model

elementary particles in the standard model

So maybe the particle physics community could set up something like that for the elementary particles, including intermediate vector bosons and the Higgs boson. Maybe we could have well-known, interesting people record short explanations and stories about each of the particles, for example:

  • bottom quark: Leon Lederman
  • charm quark: 50% Burt Richter and 50% Sam Ting
  • W boson: Carlo Rubbia
  • Z boson: Steven Weinberg
  • gluon: Sau Lan Wu
  • top quark: a carefully chosen panel from D0 and CDF…
  • Higgs boson: Peter Higgs, of course!
  • others, who?

I’ll bet that most of these people would be happy to support an uncomplicated educational exercise like this one. 🙂

Alternatively, the videos could feature distinguished young people at early stages of their careers, such as those who have recently won national or international awards. It would be interesting to view the videos twenty or thirty years hence… Or perhaps all of the videos could be recorded by women, in an effort to foster the participation of young women in the sciences.

We could also have a kind of “side bar” with discussions of crucial phenomena, such as neutrino oscillations, CP violations, spontaneous symmetry breaking, confinement, partonic structure of nucleons, jets and fragmentation, electric dipole moments of pointlike particles, muon anomalous magnetic moment, etc. Clearly there are plenty of topics even if we stay strictly within the Standard Model and eschew all extensions.

The public is very interested in what we do, and that interest will only increase in the coming years, with the turn-on of the LHC, the results of Higgs searches from the Tevatron, and the strengthening of ties between particle physics and astrophysics including cosmology. Imagine how well brief, entertaining, uncomplicated videos would serve their interest..

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January 6, 2009 at 8:40 am 3 comments


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