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Talk on the group structure of elementary particles

  1. Aug 30, 2006 #1
    The Background: I'm looking to put together a 40 minute talk on the group structure of elementary particles for a group of undergraduate mathematics students many of whom know little about group theory - sort of a math talk with a physics flavor (no pun intended). So the talk would include some basic group theory, how elementary particles are described using groups, leading up to the prediction of the Omega-minus. Being an undergraduate myself, I've never formally discussed SU(3) but have taken group theory and know a something about particle physics - so I believe I'm qualified to attack this problem. My intention is not to make a group of particle physicists out of them, but to show a neat example of math that some would describe as "cute but lacking practicality."

    The Question: Can someone point me to some resources that would be good ways to start researching this topic, focusing on the group theory aspects of it?
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  3. Aug 30, 2006 #2


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    You should probably start by checking out a few textbooks from a local university library. Most books on particle physics, e.g. Griffiths, have a lot of material on the applications of group theory.

    - Warren
  4. Aug 30, 2006 #3


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    I hope we can help you, cleverless. May I suggest you start with this essay on John Baez's site? http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/physics/ParticleAndNuclear/gluons.html.

    If you haven't already discovered it, Baez's site and especially his "This week's finds" series, are one of the most valuable resources for anyone interested in the intersection of math and physics.

    Also, looking over my books I find that the appendix to Kaku's Quantum Field Theory has a nice treatment of SU(N) representations. You will have gathered from the Baez essay that the particle physics is all about these group representations, and Kaku shows how to set them up. Young Tableaus should be enetertaining for your audience!
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2006
  5. Aug 30, 2006 #4


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    My first and favorite book on the subject was Howard Georgi's. I lost my (first edition) copy and got the latest edition a few years ago. It seems like there isn't as much information in the latest version, but that could be me.

    What I liked about it was that it was easy to understand and very physical. Mathematicians spend way too much of their time trying to prove things that are obvious with as few assumptions as possible.

  6. Aug 31, 2006 #5


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    remeber you are speaking here of SU(3)_flavour, the old approximate symmetry. I like the diagrams in Huang book, and also the short review of the quark model online at the particle data group website. Griffiths also is a good source, yep.
  7. Sep 3, 2006 #6


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