Meeting with readers

image On November 8, at 19:00 Spb "Bookvoed" Ligovsky Prospect, 10/118 in the framework of the project "Science is not flour" a meeting will be held with the project manager of the book Frank Wilczek "Thin Physics. Mass, broadcast and unification of world forces " - Oleg Sivchenko.

All science lovers will enjoy an exciting conversation about a unique book that explores the background of the latest physical ideas about mass, energy and the nature of a vacuum. The author of the book, the Nobel Prize in Physics, presents modern views on our incredible Universe and predicts a new golden age of fundamental physical science. You will find a magnificent story about the unity of matter and energy, about elementary particles and their interactions. Anyone can ask Oleg Sivchenko questions on the meeting and get a prize for the most interesting question.

Below we provide an introductory excerpt from the book by F. Wilczek, “Subtle Physics. Mass, ether and unification of world forces "

Perfection supporting complexity: Salieri, Joseph II, and Mozart

I learned what perfection is thanks to the infamous mediocre composer Antonio Salieri *. In one of my favorite scenes of one of my favorite films called “Amadeus” Salieri looks in amazement in the manuscript of Mozart and says: “Move one note and get dissonance. Rearrange one phrase, and everything will fall apart. "

In this phrase, Salieri grasped the essence of perfection. His two sentences define precisely what we mean by perfection in many contexts, including theoretical physics. We can say that this definition is perfect.

The theory can be called ideal if any change leads to its deterioration. This is the first sentence of Salieri, translated from the language of music into the language of physics. And it goes straight to the point. However, this genius is manifested in the second sentence of Salieri. The theory becomes perfectly perfect if you cannot change it significantly without completely destroying it; that is, as a result of a significant change, the theory loses its meaning.

In the same film, Emperor Joseph II gives Mozart the following musical advice: “Your work is brilliant. This is a very high quality product. It just has too many notes, that's all. Take away a few and it will be perfect. ” The emperor was confused by the external complexity of the music of Mozart. He did not realize that each note served a specific purpose -

* Serious music critics are still arguing about the mediocrity of Salieri. Nevertheless, he is notorious precisely for his mediocrity. - Note. auth. gave or kept a promise; completed the drawing or diversified it.

Similarly, when first introduced to the fundamental physics of many people, its apparent complexity scares them away. Too many gluons!

However, each of the eight colored gluons serves a specific purpose. Together they provide complete symmetry between the colored charges. Remove one gluon or change its properties in any way, and the structure will collapse. In particular, if you make a similar change, the theory, previously known as QCD, will begin to produce meaningless predictions: some particles will be produced with negative probabilities, and others with a probability greater than one. Such an absolutely rigid theory, which does not allow successive modifications, is extremely vulnerable. If any of her predictions turns out to be wrong, there will be no place to hide. There are no fitting parameters. On the other hand, a completely rigid theory, if it turns out to be quite successful, becomes truly powerful. Because if it is supposedly correct and cannot be changed, then it is most certainly absolutely correct!

Salieri criteria explain why symmetry is such an attractive principle when building a theory. Systems with symmetry have every chance to be considered perfect, according to the idea of ​​Salieri. The equations governing various objects and different situations must be strictly related to each other, otherwise the symmetry will decrease. With a certain number of violations, the entire model is destroyed and the symmetry disappears. Symmetry helps us create perfect theories.

Thus, the crux of the matter lies not in the number of notes, particles, or equations, but in the perfection of the structure embodied in them. If the removal of any of the components can lead to the destruction of this structure, then their number is exactly as it should be. Mozart’s reply to the emperor was excellent: “Which particular notes do you mean, Your Majesty?”

Deep simplicity: Sherlock Holmes, again Newton and young Maxwell

One of the surest ways to avoid perfection is to add unnecessary complications. Unnecessary difficulties can be moved without degrading the structure and removed without destroying it. In addition, they divert attention, as in the following story about Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson went camping. Setting up a tent under the starry sky, they went to bed. In the middle of the night, Holmes woke Watson and asked him: “Watson, look at the stars! What do they tell us? ”

“They teach us humility. There must be millions of stars in the sky, and if even a small part of them has planets like the Earth, then there are hundreds of planets inhabited by sentient beings. Some of them may be wiser than us. They are probably looking through their huge telescopes at the Earth, as it was many thousands of years ago. Perhaps they are wondering if intelligent life will ever develop on it. ”

And Holmes said: "Watson, these stars tell us that someone stole our tent."
Returning from the ridiculous to the sublime, you can recall that Sir Isaac Newton was not satisfied with his theory of gravity, which implied the action of forces through empty space. However, since this theory was consistent with all existing observations and he could not make any concrete improvements, Newton put aside his philosophical reservations and presented it without embellishment. In the final "Main scholii" to his "Principles" he made a classic statement *:

“I still could not deduce the cause of these properties of the force from phenomena, but I do not invent hypotheses. However, what is not derived from phenomena should be called a hypothesis. The hypotheses of metaphysical, physical and mechanical, hidden properties have no place in experimental philosophy. ”

The key phrase "I do not invent a hypothesis" in the original in Latin sounds like this: Hypothesis non fingo. This phrase is a legend that Ernst Mach put in the basis of the portrait of Newton in his influential work “Mechanics”. This phrase is well known that a separate article on Wikipedia was devoted to it. It simply means that Newton refused to overload his theory of gravity with speculation not supported by observations. (Nevertheless, Newton's personal papers show that he worked obsessively on finding evidence of the existence of a space-filling medium.)

Of course, the easiest way to avoid unnecessary complications is to say nothing at all. In order not to fall into this trap, turn to the young Maxwell. According to his early biographer, being a little boy, he often asked with a Gaelic accent: “What is happening there?” And, having received an unsatisfactory answer, he again asked the question: “But what exactly is happening there?”

* Warning: you may experience a sense of deja vu. I have already quoted this quote in chapter 7. - Note. auth.

In other words, we must be ambitious. We must continue to ask new questions and strive for specific answers, expressed in quantitative form.

The phrase "scientific revolution" was used to mean so many things that it lost its value. The emergence of ambitions associated with the creation of accurate mathematical models of the world, and belief in the success of these undertakings - this is a real endless scientific revolution.

There is a creative friction between the conflicting demands of saving on assumptions and providing concrete answers to many questions. Deep simplicity stingy at the entrances, but generous at the exits.

And there will be a live broadcast


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