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Particle physics most important physicists

  1. Nov 23, 2004 #1
    I was wondering who you thaught is most responicle for todays development of particle physics?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 23, 2004 #2
    Probably Greg Bernhardt :wink:
  4. Nov 24, 2004 #3


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    Though i'm a theorist,i believe it should not be fair to pose such a problem,since thousands of physicists worldwide work very hard to confirm/infirm something that theorists found decades ago.The Standard Model was pretty much finished at the beginning of the 70's,last century of course.
    I believe that since the discovery of QM in the 20's,particle physics was always one step behind theory.
  5. Nov 25, 2004 #4
    It should be Gell-Man amd his friends ...
  6. Nov 25, 2004 #5
    and also the latest Nobel Prize winners plus Gerardus t'Hooft, Polyakov, Yukawa

  7. Nov 25, 2004 #6
    I am an experimentalist about to state my disagreement :grumpy:
    Remember how data were flowing in daily in the sixties ?
    This was well after the 20's. But anyway, there has been changes actually. Unfortunately, not merely the fact that theoreticians have proposed many different scenari beyond experimentally accessible energies. Also a much more regretable fact : theoreticians tend to have contempt for experimental data, and thus, for Nature itself. Some of them simply do not care about Nature, they are developping a model. They think there is pretty much room between where we are and the Planck scale, enough room for wild physics to appear. Thus, they are searching for "strange" new hypotheses, even at the cost sometimes of violating respected ideas. Well, I agree with C. Rovelli :
    I have a second complaint, less general, very specific indeed :
    What are you theoreticians able to do with QCD at low energies ?
    Chiral symmetry breaking and 1/Nc are sometimes very efficient. But : sometimes they are not efficient at all, and sometimes they are efficient whereas the should not. As a result, these two very important features are not understood at the level they deserve. So what else ? IMHO lattice calculations are not part of theory (actually even closer to what experimentalist do). At this point let me quote :
    see http://baryons04.in2p3.fr/
    Some experimentalists today are working on new hadronic distributions, and this a real challenge for you theoretician to compute them. They are called Generalized Parton Distributions (GPDs) and a few models exist on the market only for crude approximation purpose. In particular, they are unable to predict anything for the ERBL evolution sector of the meson cloud. In fact, an exact calculation of GPDs would amount to solving QCD.

    dextercioby, I agreed with you when you said the original question is not fair.
    I disagree when you state that theory is ahead of experiment because there is a current regretable attitude in theory, and because you are not ahead at all in QCD.
  8. Nov 25, 2004 #7


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    What is it that you have in mind as "today's development of particle physics"? Are you thinking of ongoing experimental observations of neutrinos?

    Would anyone like to say what if anything represents important development in particle physics currently in progress, or even in the past 5 years?
    Not being an expert, i have a hard time guessing what you have in mind, rattis. Besides neutrino work I dont seem to be able to think of much current development

    Would these important developments be (as someone has suggested: dexter, humanino?) actually the work of today's experimentalists who continue to confirm theory constructed mostly prior to 1983?

    If there has not been much accomplished in theory (in particle physics)
    for the past 20 years, then what kind of names would you like, rattis?

    Would you like the names of senior theorists who did important theory work 25 years ago? Or if this does not correspond to your idea of "today's development" maybe you would like the names of some great high-energy-physics experimentalists.

    Per Oddone who was just made director of Fermilab comes to mind. In experimental particle physics maybe mentioning one name can, at best, symbolize an unnamed multitude.
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2004
  9. Nov 25, 2004 #8


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    Amen to what humanino quoted.
    theoretical physics has gone way off track in past 20 years, chasing the wild goose----I suspect that this is the message of the quote:

    "I think wildness in physics is sterile. The greatest revolutionaries in science were extremely, almost obsessively, conservative. [...] Their vertiginous steps ahead were not pulled out of the blue sky. [...] In physics, novelty has always emerged from new data or from a humble, devoted interrogation of old theories. [...] Theoretical physics becomes a mental game closed in itself and the connection with reality is lost."
    (in "Quantum Gravity" appendix C On method and truth)
  10. Nov 25, 2004 #9


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    Schneider, Olivier hep-ph/0206171
    But wait, hep-ph is theory... so hep-ex/0405012

    yeah yeah Collaboration, The Super-Kamiokande; al, Y Fukuda et hep-ex/9807003
  11. Nov 30, 2004 #10
    As in how we got to where we are today.
  12. Nov 30, 2004 #11


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    Feynmann and Schwinger are the central early figures in my opinion. For QCD, Gellman and a host of others.

    In my opinion Wilson, Weinberg and T'Hooft were the most important particle theorists in semi recent times (eg 70s when the SDM was more or less finished).

    If you want more recent stuff that has yet to be verified, well im partial, but I'd say Edward Witten is for his contributions to SUSY + TQFT + Epsilon prime problem + a host of assorted incredible work in nearly every area of physics.
  13. Dec 2, 2004 #12


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    Hans Bethe
  14. Dec 7, 2004 #13
    Well here are the most important experimental discoveries of the past few years I would say:

    various quark masses/states
    Neutrino oscillations
    The number of light neutrinos (only confirmed by Aleph in the 80s I think)
    Mass ration Mw/Mz (or was that the theorists, I forget which bits the theorists discovered and which came from experiment)
    When was CP violation discovered? I think it was before the 70s.
    There's also probably some good physics in all the unidentified resonances that are still kicking around (and I guess are assumed to just be excited quark states)
    And don't forget the accelerator guys who do an amaznig job.

    But these are mostly the results of huge collaborations. Whose to say that the Grad Student who discovered a slight aberration in the tracker (that would have knocked all the measurements way out if it weren't found) is more important than the collaboration spokesperson...

    Someone finished the standard model?
  15. Dec 7, 2004 #14


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    A few folks who were around in the World War II era, plus or minus, and kind of got particle physics going in the direction that it now takes (i.e. leaving stringy stuff out of it) were Pauli, Lee, Utiyama and Pais, just to name the first ones that come to mind.
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