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(Big Think)   There are exactly three generations of elementary particles. And no one knows why   (bigthink.com) divider line
    More: Weird, Standard Model, Elementary particle, Standard Model of elementary particle physics, Particle physics, Electron, elementary particles, confines of the Standard Model, massive neutrinos  
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1063 clicks; posted to STEM » on 07 Jun 2022 at 9:50 AM (17 weeks ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook



34 Comments     (+0 »)
View Voting Results: Smartest and Funniest
 
2022-06-07 9:26:51 AM  
When you start asking questions about the universe it's "why" all the way down.
 
2022-06-07 9:33:20 AM  
If there are 61 of them, how elementary are those particles, really?
 
2022-06-07 9:59:31 AM  
Because scientists in the last 20 years or so decides to classify them that way.

Bad clickbait is bad.
 
2022-06-07 10:08:31 AM  
There are three generations that we know of.

There could be a fourth, fifth, sixth one(s) tied up with Dark Energy waiting to be found and plugged in.
 
2022-06-07 10:10:30 AM  

Stephen_Falken: If there are 61 of them, how elementary are those particles, really?


Considering that term comes from the elements, which there are 118 of, 61 isn't that many.
 
2022-06-07 10:22:32 AM  
So these particles are the Barrymores, or the Redgraves, or the Coppolas, or the Fondas, or the Hustons, of the Hollywood for particles.
 
2022-06-07 10:29:29 AM  

Archie Goodwin: There are three generations that we know of.

There could be a fourth, fifth, sixth one(s) tied up with Dark Energy waiting to be found and plugged in.


Three shall be the number of the generations. And the number of the generations shall be three. Four shalt there not be, neither be thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out.
 
2022-06-07 10:36:39 AM  
Fark user imageView Full Size
 
2022-06-07 10:39:45 AM  
"Have you noticed how everything about them seems to be in threes?"
 
2022-06-07 10:47:08 AM  
because they then graduate to middle school particles
 
2022-06-07 10:48:55 AM  

Archie Goodwin: There are three generations that we know of.

There could be a fourth, fifth, sixth one(s) tied up with Dark Energy waiting to be found and plugged in.


How that would be consistent with the existing evidence? How would add an additional generation without it affecting the expected values of various properties of the existing generations? Show your math.
 
2022-06-07 10:50:04 AM  

akallen404: Because scientists in the last 20 years or so decides to classify them that way.

Bad clickbait is bad.


Nope, because there really are "generational" families of specific particles that are related in well-defined mathematical ways.
 
2022-06-07 10:55:09 AM  

HugeMistake: Archie Goodwin: There are three generations that we know of.

There could be a fourth, fifth, sixth one(s) tied up with Dark Energy waiting to be found and plugged in.

How that would be consistent with the existing evidence? How would add an additional generation without it affecting the expected values of various properties of the existing generations? Show your math.


1. I said 'could'.
2. In grand Fark tradition I haven't read the article yet. That's for tomorrow. It's late and I'm ready for bed.
3. I've always had a gut feeling that the standard model is not complete. Yes I know, gut feelings will get you a loooong way in physics. (about as far as sarcasm)
 
2022-06-07 11:35:03 AM  
My personal headcanon, having neither a physics nor math degree, is that we're over complicating a little.

As I understand it, there's supposed to be a quantum field for each particle, e.g. one for the electron, one for each quark, one for each boson, etc.with the perceivable outcomes being the results of the interactions (transfer of energy) between them.

I wonder if, while there probably are many different quantum fields, there are fewer than we think, and the various generations are different modes of excitation within the same system. Like, an electron is an excitation in the electron field, and a muon is an equivalent excitation with more energy, like a 2nd harmonic resonance on a drum-head, and a tau is a higher harmonic still. We only see those three because of some limitation in the number of harmonics that can exist within a given system's ability to resolve them.

The mass differential is due to the higher energy from the shorter wavelength needed to fit more harmonics into the same region, or possibly because more harmonics interact more with the Higgs field. I don't know enough about the different sources for mass to know if they would apply here.
 
2022-06-07 11:48:59 AM  
I know why: God (of the gaps)
 
2022-06-07 11:56:28 AM  

Archie Goodwin: There are three generations that we know of.

There could be a fourth, fifth, sixth one(s) tied up with Dark Energy waiting to be found and plugged in.


The math and experimental results do not support this conclusion.  The math for observed phenomena only works for three or four generations, but experimental results only find three.

We know there are gaps in the Standard Model, but the generations of particles isn't one of them. We don't know why there are only three generations of particles, but we do know the math and observable phenomena only support three. We haven't yet determined the mechanism for dark energy or dark matter, but we know something has to exist which creates the effects of dark energy and dark matter. We don't know why the rest masses of particles seem to break down into thirds. We just know that is what is happening.

Lots of people have been trying to make the Standard Model fail experimentally, because that's part of the scientific process. It has so far held up against every attempt to invalidate it, and nothing better has yet been proposed. But some observed phenomena are not explained by the Standard Model as it currently exists. Either the Standard Model is wrong or it is incomplete. Since we get reproducible experimental predictions from the Standard Model, it can't be wholly wrong. Since we can't yet explain some of the observed phenomena with the Standard Model, it cannot be wholly right, either. We're probably missing some key concept of particle interactions or some key bit of evidence is not available to our current instruments in their current locations or perhaps we're not employing the appropriate math.

The few mathematical attempts to include the unexplained observational phenomena do not yet lend themselves to experiment (looking at you, supersymmetrical string theory). Until those mathematical hypotheses can be tested experimentally, they're essentially number-wanking. Sure, the math all works out elegantly for the given conditions, but there's no way to experimentally determine if those conditions actually exist.
 
2022-06-07 12:05:54 PM  

Archie Goodwin: HugeMistake: Archie Goodwin: There are three generations that we know of.

There could be a fourth, fifth, sixth one(s) tied up with Dark Energy waiting to be found and plugged in.

How that would be consistent with the existing evidence? How would add an additional generation without it affecting the expected values of various properties of the existing generations? Show your math.

1. I said 'could'.
2. In grand Fark tradition I haven't read the article yet. That's for tomorrow. It's late and I'm ready for bed.
3. I've always had a gut feeling that the standard model is not complete. Yes I know, gut feelings will get you a loooong way in physics. (about as far as sarcasm)


On the other hand, a GUT feeling might land you a position at a prestigious research center.
 
2022-06-07 12:59:28 PM  

Nicholas D. Wolfwood: "Have you noticed how everything about them seems to be in threes?"


catholic-resources.orgView Full Size
 
2022-06-07 1:06:24 PM  

Wenchmaster: Archie Goodwin: There are three generations that we know of.

There could be a fourth, fifth, sixth one(s) tied up with Dark Energy waiting to be found and plugged in.

The math and experimental results do not support this conclusion.  The math for observed phenomena only works for three or four generations, but experimental results only find three.

We know there are gaps in the Standard Model, but the generations of particles isn't one of them. We don't know why there are only three generations of particles, but we do know the math and observable phenomena only support three. We haven't yet determined the mechanism for dark energy or dark matter, but we know something has to exist which creates the effects of dark energy and dark matter. We don't know why the rest masses of particles seem to break down into thirds. We just know that is what is happening.

Lots of people have been trying to make the Standard Model fail experimentally, because that's part of the scientific process. It has so far held up against every attempt to invalidate it, and nothing better has yet been proposed. But some observed phenomena are not explained by the Standard Model as it currently exists. Either the Standard Model is wrong or it is incomplete. Since we get reproducible experimental predictions from the Standard Model, it can't be wholly wrong. Since we can't yet explain some of the observed phenomena with the Standard Model, it cannot be wholly right, either. We're probably missing some key concept of particle interactions or some key bit of evidence is not available to our current instruments in their current locations or perhaps we're not employing the appropriate math.

The few mathematical attempts to include the unexplained observational phenomena do not yet lend themselves to experiment (looking at you, supersymmetrical string theory). Until those mathematical hypotheses can be tested experimentally, they're essentially number-wanking. Sure, the math all works out elegantly ...


Number-wanking - I think this explains String "theory"

I can't remember who said it, but the quote goes something like this: It's called string theory because three generations of physicists have hung themselves with it.
 
2022-06-07 1:11:14 PM  
Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out.
 
2022-06-07 1:24:43 PM  

HugeMistake: akallen404: Because scientists in the last 20 years or so decides to classify them that way.

Bad clickbait is bad.

Nope, because there really are "generational" families of specific particles that are related in well-defined mathematical ways.


Yes, and there's a hell of a lot more than three of them, and there's a whole mess of decay chains that at high energies can skip whole classes of particles at once. So grouping them into three "generations" is pretty much an arbitrary convention.

It's a bit like asking "Why are there exactly seven continents" or "Why are there only 8 planets?" Because that's the classification system we use.
 
2022-06-07 2:16:41 PM  

akallen404: So grouping them into three "generations" is pretty much an arbitrary convention.

It's a bit like asking "Why are there exactly seven continents" or "Why are there only 8 planets?" Because that's the classification system we use.


No. It. Isn't.

Seven continents is a convention. Eight planets is a definition subject to change. Three generations is a real, physical thing that reflects underlying physical processes and mathematical symmetries.

For example, the particles of a given type, say the charged leptons (electron, muon, tauon), have identical electric force and strong force interactions, but different mass, across the three generations. Why there are three is a significant unsolved problem in physics - and that alone should tell you that "because humans decided to arrange them that way" cannot be the answer, because if it were physicists would not be worrying about it.

What you have here is an opportunity to learn something - but first you have to let go of the mistaken belief that you already know the answer.


upload.wikimedia.orgView Full Size
 
2022-06-07 2:34:41 PM  
I'm not sure you can fairly call these "real, physical things"
 
2022-06-07 2:55:25 PM  

KarmicDisaster: When you start asking questions about the universe it's "why" all the way down.


There used to be a philosophical branch called "teleology", trying to answer why in the world the universe is like that.

Then Newton came along and described much, much more about how the world works.  And when asked why, he said "I posit no hypothesis" (only in Latin because he couldn't bare to say "I don't know" and made it as pretentious as possible).  And trying to explain the inexplicable went out of fashion.
 
2022-06-07 3:27:57 PM  

sxacho: I'm not sure you can fairly call these "real, physical things"


If these are not "physical" then I don't know what is, since everything else is composed from them,
 
2022-06-07 4:35:21 PM  
Grandchildren spent most of the money on booze and hookers, and wasted the rest?
 
2022-06-07 4:36:47 PM  
i.imgur.comView Full Size
 
2022-06-07 8:11:41 PM  

Nicholas D. Wolfwood: "Have you noticed how everything about them seems to be in threes?"


The Standard Model was designed by the Ramans?
 
2022-06-07 9:09:55 PM  

Bondith: Nicholas D. Wolfwood: "Have you noticed how everything about them seems to be in threes?"

The Standard Model was designed by the Ramans?


Try these guys -

Fark user imageView Full Size
 
Fark user imageView Full Size
 
2022-06-07 9:50:11 PM  

Nicholas D. Wolfwood: Bondith: Nicholas D. Wolfwood: "Have you noticed how everything about them seems to be in threes?"

The Standard Model was designed by the Ramans?

Try these guys -

[Fark user image 259x194]  [Fark user image 272x185]


300 quatloos on the newcomer.
 
2022-06-08 7:04:50 AM  

KarmicDisaster: When you start asking questions about the universe it's "why" all the way down.


So, the universe is a cranky three year old. This actually makes sense to me.
 
2022-06-08 7:08:34 AM  

Archie Goodwin: HugeMistake: Archie Goodwin: There are three generations that we know of.

There could be a fourth, fifth, sixth one(s) tied up with Dark Energy waiting to be found and plugged in.

How that would be consistent with the existing evidence? How would add an additional generation without it affecting the expected values of various properties of the existing generations? Show your math.

1. I said 'could'.
2. In grand Fark tradition I haven't read the article yet. That's for tomorrow. It's late and I'm ready for bed.
3. I've always had a gut feeling that the standard model is not complete. Yes I know, gut feelings will get you a loooong way in physics. (about as far as sarcasm)


I have a gut feeling that Madonna would have fallen head over heels for me if we had ever met as well.

Both gut feelings are equally probable. There is a tremendous amount of math, as the article notes, as well as easily observable evidence that says that the standard model is essentially complete for the phenomenon it describes. We may need an expansion of it to talk about dark energy and dark matter, and certainly to try to integrate gravity but that will not involve new families of bosons or leptons.
 
2022-06-08 7:10:13 AM  

sxacho: I'm not sure you can fairly call these "real, physical things"


It is the interaction between those real physical things that keeps you from falling through the floor when you step off the bed.
 
2022-06-08 10:36:55 AM  

Nicholas D. Wolfwood: Bondith: Nicholas D. Wolfwood: "Have you noticed how everything about them seems to be in threes?"

The Standard Model was designed by the Ramans?

Try these guys -

[Fark user image 259x194]  [Fark user image 272x185]


Bonus points for using the good movie.
 
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