Posted by: Jamie | November 14, 2013

Introduction for the Layperson – Part 2

Oh wow. Look at this beautiful Standard Model diagram I found today:

Diagram of the Standard Model of particle physics

Diagram of the Standard Model of particle physics

Here’s the source:

I may try to adapt this (possibly with a little less information – don’t need to include the spin, I don’t think) for use in my dissertation. Does anyone *without* a physics background find this picture useful? More or less useful than the one from the post in Part 1?

Also, I’m thinking about re-writing those paragraphs to be less authoritative. By which I mean, to give more of a sense of how up-in-the-air a lot of this information is. I don’t want to get bogged down in a bunch of “as far as we can tell” or “our best model so far is” disclaimers throughout, but I don’t want to give the impression that all of this is a done deal in the same way that, say, Newtonian mechanics is. Suggestions?



  1. I like the extended diagram (I recall that I may have had a hand in suggesting it.) The analogy it presents with the Periodic Table of the Elements is too compelling to miss.

    Here’s how I would begin, if it were my thesis to write….

    “The story of physical discovery is a human story, like one of Agatha Christie’s murder mysteries, but one which may have no final chapter: it may be that the Theory of Everything may always lie just over an ever receding horizon, and no scientist whom I am aware of wants to put real money on the question. That mystery is at the heart of what drives scientists. Is the effort even worth it? Yes, because the results obtained over the last 300 odd years of it stagger the human mind, with nature’s regularity, how complex things can be explained so often by simple things, but simple in ways that are so weird, so foreign, to our everyday experience. Whether QCD or the Standard Model are “true” is something that may never be known, but the remarkable degree of precision of agreement of modern theory with experiment means that we have certainly established a minimum degree of queerness for the universe, and that is plenty queer. With that in mind, here is the picture of reality which has emerged since the advent of QCD nearly fifty years ago…..”

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