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I What do tau particles DO? What is their function/purpose?

  1. Mar 8, 2017 #1
    Almost ALL introductory articles or videos on subatomic particles virtually NEVER tell you what some particles actually DO: what their function or purpose in the grand scheme of things is. The Tau lepton is a good case in point: even the Wikipedia article is absolutely silent regarding what the function or purpose of these heavy leptons is. Will someone PLEASE tell me what they do. Thanks in advance!!!
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 8, 2017 #2
    Physics doesn't ascribe functions or purposes to things. The universe doesn't exist for your (or anyone else's) benefit.

    Tau leptons are 3rd-generation charged leptons. They couple to the electroweak interaction just like electrons and muons. They don't couple to the strong interaction. They decay with a mean lifetime of 0.3 picoseconds to a variety of final states, listed here: pdglive.lbl.gov/Particle.action?node=S035
     
  4. Mar 8, 2017 #3

    Drakkith

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    Tau leptons and other elementary particles have no intrinsic purpose. They simply exist and obey all fundamental laws of nature. If the Tau lepton were stable, or at least had a much longer half-life, we might find some use for them, but those uses would be essentially arbitrary.
     
  5. Mar 8, 2017 #4

    jtbell

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    Physicists have been faced with this question before, when the muon ("sibling" of the electron and tau) was discovered:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muon
     
  6. Mar 8, 2017 #5
    Grrrr This is BOGUS!! Every facet of the natural world must serve SOME purpose, or else it wouldn't exist at all. Everything MUST have purpose - it must contribute somethi9ng to the universe at large - otherwise, why would it even exist???
     
  7. Mar 8, 2017 #6
    You are making this too philosophical, when really it is all about physics. We know the properties of these particles. Why should we need to know their purpose?
    Btw, you should respect these people who are trying to help you instead of taking their knowledge as BOGUS.
     
  8. Mar 8, 2017 #7

    jtbell

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    What "grand scheme"? :oldwink:
     
  9. Mar 8, 2017 #8

    BvU

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    There are other views which must be respected.
    I would appreciate a proof that things must have a purpose.
     
  10. Mar 8, 2017 #9

    berkeman

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    Wait, there's a song from the '60s about this, right? Off to search for it...
     
  11. Mar 8, 2017 #10
    hmmmm... ok apologies. It just seems to me that its odd to have things existing without purpose or meaning. Didn't mean to offend. That said, I do think its a bit of a cop-out to say that something doesn't have a function: science is all about figuring out how the universe works: what its made of and how everything works together to make a unified whole. It may ultimately be found that there are in fact some things which serve no function at all, but in the meantime I think its our duty to try to figure out what things are good for - not just their properties.
     
  12. Mar 8, 2017 #11

    berkeman

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  13. Mar 8, 2017 #12

    mfb

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    There is absolutely no evidence supporting that.
    What is the "purpose" of a random asteroid flying through the solar system?


    If you would just remove the tau from the standard model, you wouldn't have gauge anomaly cancellation any more. You would have to modify more to keep a consistent theory. Remove the third generation of quarks? Then you lose CP violation and we would expect a perfect matter/antimatter symmetry, that doesn't lead to a universe as we know it. Change quark charges? That would also lead to a different universe. Same for lepton charges.
    Assigning a purpose/function to things has nothing to do with physics. You assume that there are some goals. What are those goals? Whatever you define has to be completely arbitrary.
     
  14. Mar 8, 2017 #13
    Thanks Berserkman!! Thanks all as well: some things to think about. That said, I DO think that to say something has no purpose is kind of silly: seeking purpose and meaning in the universe should be something science should tackle, within limits: yes, a random asteroid may not have any Grand Meaning, but surely what is called a "fundamental particle", however short-lived, must have some function in making the universe the place we all know and some of us even love :=).
     
  15. Mar 8, 2017 #14

    berkeman

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    The problem, Joseph, is that such an approach leads to debates about pseudoscience and related topics, which we have learned from many years of experience to not allow here. We discuss mainstream science here, and those dicsussions are very valuable.

    Please re-read the rules that you agreed to when you joined here, and post within the rules. This thread is closed.
     
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