Almost there

“Are we nearly there yet?”

The physicists’ answer: “Yes, we’re nearly there, any minute now.”

The mathematicians’ answer: “How do we know, until we get there?”

Physicists believe that the Standard Model of Particle Physics is “nearly there”. And has been for fifty years. Er, excuse me? What exactly does that mean? You’ve missed 49 holidays in a row sitting in a traffic jam on the motorway?

Time to wake up, find a service station, buy some coffee, SMELL THE COFFEE, and get a reality check.

Take a deep breath. Doesn’t that coffee smell GOOD? Just imagine what it will do to you when you drink it! At my service station, I have prepared some amazing coffees. You should just try them, they will blow your mind. I have got one or two decaffeinated versions, suitable for the arXiv and other sensitive people. But why bother? Why not drink the real thing?

Get rid of that hangover. See the universe in all its amazing colourful glory. Don’t listen to the physicists who tell you that the colours of Quantum ChromoDynamics are not observable. They are! That doesn’t mean you need hallucinatory drugs, but it does mean you need some good coffee.

Now, under normal circumstances, as a mathematician, I would carry on and explain what you should see when you’ve had some good coffee. But this is not mathematics, this is physics. So I have to insist that you go and get yourself a cup of coffee. I’ll wait.

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2 Responses to “Almost there”

  1. Robert A. Wilson Says:

    No doubt you noticed the deliberate joke “I’ll wait” which implies that you and I have a shared concept of time, which we obviously don’t. This isn’t just a joke, it is physical reality. Time is a concept that requires a consciousness to understand it. Now, go and get that coffee! I’m not going to tell you again!

    At the risk of repeating myself (at my age, it is almost impossible to do anything else), oh, what was it I was going to say? You see what I mean? I just have to waffle for a bit to wait for everyone else to join us. Ah, here we go.

    We are nearly there. We have driven down every single road in the country for 50 years and we know everything about every road, where it comes from and where it goes to. We have done exactly what google has done. Google must be able to tell us the answer!

  2. Robert A. Wilson Says:

    Did you ask Google? Was the answer enlightening? No, I thought not. Money can’t buy you everything, whatever Google might think. Not that they are particularly well known for paying out the money that most people think they owe. So it’s not entirely clear they understand the concept of money in the first place.

    But we’re not talking about Google, we’re talking about fundamental physics. What makes you think that driving up and down the country is going to help you understand fundamental physics?

    The thing about fundamental physics is that the basic axiom is “plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose” – everything is always the same. But it isn’t. That’s what needs to be explained. Or, depending on your point of view, what needs to be explained is that you can’t detect any difference by driving up and down the county. Should you expect to? Well that depends on your model. The standard model *assumes* there is no difference, so that’s no good. What you need is a model that predicts a difference that is small enough that it has not yet been detected. That’s what my model does.

    I am no longer interested in talking to theorists about these things. But if any experimentalists are interested, I’m happy to talk.

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