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Is high energy physics real ?

  1. Oct 9, 2004 #1
    I have a few questions:

    1) I read that particle physics uses accelarators and computers to compare results according to Feynman diagrams. According to the precision these diagrams may be 70 or 40000 and eventually millions to trillions all very complex to calcuate. At what point (decimal point will scientists think the precision will be enough ? (a trilllion feynman diagrams?) And if so will they be even able to calcuate it ? and even after won't they be curious to know if a higher precision could lead to something else ?

    2) after the grand theory of everything is achieved maybe 300 years from now, will scientists still study all the theoretical structures anyways even if it has no use for physics anymore ?

    3) particle accelarators, theories, computers etc. seem quite distant from reality... it makes me think sometime"is it real ?"
    I mean there is only one level seperating a virtual reality program from reality (the program) whereas in particle physics we have about 5 or 6 (accelerators, theories, computers, calcuations etc)

  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 9, 2004 #2


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    The experimentalists and the theorists are in a race. The theorists keep calculating more and more digits, the experimentalists keep measuring them :-).

    Some of the quantities have been calculated and measured to a lot of decimal places, like the anomalous magnetic moment of the electron and muon. I think they're at somehere aroun 8 digits, maybe more by now.


    My crystal ball says "The answer is uncertain. Try again in 300 years".


    Meanwhile, hope we manage to avoid a major war with modern weapons.....

    Computers and particle accelerators are as real as anything else. If you're worried about the possibility of errors due to the complexity of the measurements, so are some scientists. The tactic that works best here is to reproduce the results in different laboratories. My impression is that with the number of different laboratories there is a reasonable amount of cross-checking going on, but I do seem to recall that some scientists (including Feynman) were a bit concerned that there was enough duplication of results.


    I thought it was "eight man", as per your handle.
  4. Oct 9, 2004 #3


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    I can't let this slide by without commenting.l

    1. Particle accelerators do NOT necessarily equal to "particle colliders". The first one simply accelerates particles up to the necessary energy. The second one is a detector/facility that study collisions between particles. They are not mutually inclusive!

    2. Is it real? Well, if you or a family have the unfortunate situation of getting a radiation therapy, check out the SOURCE of that radiation. Chances are, you're getting highly collimated EM radiation from an accelerator right in your medical facility.

    3. Accelerators are used in synchrotron radiation centers to generate the electron beam in the storage ring. Synchrotron radiation is used to study everything from the materials you are using, to the structure of proteins, drugs, and even viruses!

    So next time, before you ask if something is "real", maybe you should check if you are already using results from it.

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