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Twisting knobs on the Std. Muddle

  1. Dec 14, 2004 #1


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    this is an example of a kind of article I'd like to read more of
    it is by robert cahn (at LBL Berkeley?)
    and is called

    "Eighteen Parameters of the Standard Model in Your Everyday Life"

    the way to get it is to go to Carrol's blog, he has it for download in PS
    and then you have to convert to PDF

    maybe even better or more convenient?

    It tries to bring home how the Std Mdl is really about everyday life
    because if some of the parameters were changed then there would
    be different chemical elements, or maybe no chemical elements at all,
    and maybe stars wouldnt be able to burn, or would burn too fast

    and the parameters are some finite set of pure dimensionless numbers, because they are ratios (ultimately to universal quantities like the planck quantities)

    so there are these 18 or 26 or some number of pure absolute numbers which are so important in everyday life

    but I dont know of any online article that makes this point in a simple
    non-goofy way and provides a decent level of detail

    maybe this is the best there is-----anybody have an alternative link?
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  3. Dec 15, 2004 #2
    I havn't seen the paper but it sounds like the kind of work I have read in "Just Six Numbers" by Martin Rees, and "The Constants of Nature" byJohn D. Barrow. These are books Which can be found in inexpensive printings at your local big box book store.

  4. Dec 15, 2004 #3


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    thanks NC,
    I have seen similarly titled pieces in hardcopy too. there was an excellent discussion in the Scientific American some time back about the effects that slight variation in some fundamental constants would have on everyday life.
    But I tried to remember and realized I couldn't think of when or by whom!

    Maybe we should collect some hardcopy titles, like the ones you offer here, and list them too, along with online sources.

    what I especially want, though, is more online material.
    online material gives people at a forum something they can all have
    access to, and can discuss and reference.

    I suspect there is something more out there besides this piece by Robert Cahn. still hope to hear of it.
  5. Dec 15, 2004 #4


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    One thing Robert Cahn does is imagine for us what would happen if the mass gap between the electron and the muon
    were gradually narrowed

    what changes would start happening in our world

    another thing he touches on is what the world would be like if the
    mass of the top quark were an order of magnitude less than it actually is.


    maybe this gives an idea. he is not talking merely about varying a few familiar constants--------I guess a fair number of people have described the radically different world one would get if alpha (fine structure const) were varied by a couple of percent!

    talking about varying alpha, or the proton mass, or the cosmological constant, is a good start but it just scratches the surface

    Robert Cahn although he talks about a few different ones, also only whets the appetite

    a lot more could be written on this, and I hope it has and is available online!
  6. Dec 15, 2004 #5
    It might be useful for people interested in this area to have a look at the Wikipedia work of Robert Bristow-Johnson and others on natural (Planck) units, which may be easier to manipulate. Have a look at:


    I am doing some original work which I would be happy to share, taking the idea of natural units and applying dimensional analysis from the point of view of strong space-time equivalence. Velocity reduces to a dimensionless number, and there is an interesting geometric relationship to be seen between voltage, resistance, and the inverse of current. Since I have no career, and am generally a foolish advocate of altruism and cooperation over competition, I give this to the community freely, if anyone is interested.

    I just hope I don't get hit by a truck. It would be nice if one of the big, powerful academic machinery drivers would stoop down to give me a lift, but that is too much for a nightcleaner guy to expect, I guess. Oh well. Onward and upward.

    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 16, 2004
  7. Dec 16, 2004 #6


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    Last edited: Dec 16, 2004
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