It has been a while since I worked actively on theoretical physics. Without quantum mechanics, human society could not have developed much understanding of DNA/proteins, or built computers with semiconductor chips to analyze them. Yet, the world of quantum physics is a mystery to most non-practitioners. Some of them read few popular books (‘In Search of Schrodinger’s Cat’) and come out more confused than before.
Is it their fault? Not really, because even Einstein could not accept quantum mechanics at full face value. Is electron a particle or wave? How can matter and antimatter (electron and positron) merge and annihilate themselves? Answers to those questions do not make sense with conventional understanding of the physical world.
Although my Masters and Ph.D. thesis needed deep understanding of quantum mechanics, I was too impatient to take classes at the physics department and get bored for an entire semester. So, other than two classes on mathematical physics, I mostly learned the subject by myself with occasional help from my supervisor. I remember that quantum mechanics was very hard subject, when I first started studying it. I used to read books in the library for hours without figuring out what was going on. The mathematical part was easy, but the conceptual part was not so easy.
Then everything became clear one day !!
One fine morning, I realized that electron, proton, positron, neutrino, broken symmatry, Fermi level, etc. all are mathematical concepts. Mathematics is one and only truth in physics, whereas the interpretations are fantasies created by various physicists for having good times in the bar. From that point onward, understanding physics paper became really easy. I dug straight to the underlying equation and tried to understand it. Then I tried to create my own interpretation, and only after that, looked at what the authors of the papers made up as their interpretations. In my world, electrons, positrons, etc. are all parameters of various equations. So, annihilation of matter and anti- matter is the simple. Two mathematical terms with opposite signs cancel each other. The pairing of two electrons (electron and hole) as Cooper pair is also simple, as long as I understand the mathematical construct.
Getting back to ‘God particle’, today I read in the news -
Scientists believe the “God particle” that might explain the underpinnings of the universe is real, and they are about to present their evidence to the world.
Researchers at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, say that they have compiled vast amounts of data that show the footprint and shadow of the particle all but proving it exists, even though it has never actually been glimpsed.
Here is what the article says, in my language.
The physicists had a mathematical theory of the ultra-small world, and one parameter of the mathematical theory was named ‘Higgs boson’. The best evidence of the theory to be correct was to see a peak at certain place in an NMR-like experiment. If the peak was not seen, there could be two possibilities - (i) the mathematical theory itself was wrong, (ii) the NMR machine was not strong enough.
Experimental physicists pursued option (ii) and were building larger and larger NMR-like machines.
Image: Large Hadron Collider
Finally, they see some evidence of the peak that would suggest that the parameter in the mathematical equation was indeed correct.
From the same USA today article -
The idea is much like gravity and Isaac Newton’s discovery: It was there all the time before Newton explained it. But now scientists know what it is and can put that knowledge to further use.
My interpretation - only further use this discovery will have is to bring more research funding to the particle physics researchers, who will propose to build even bigger machines.
The physicists should stop digging deeper, and spend their energy on other less expensive, but more interesting, topics in nature. Here is my suggestion. Can any physicist explain, why different plants have different fractal structures based on genetic information? For example, is it possible to turn a pine tree structure into a banyan tree by changing few genes? How do mathematics of fractals and genes work together?