Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Fabric of Learning

In a world where particles are the actors, space is filled with performances that often result in repeats. All of the plays are happening on one universal stage and the actors collide with each other, resulting in changes to the plot and new actors to show up. With this analogy, I hope to help everyone (even myself) fathom the amount of interactions there are in our "big" world. There are some actors that are never noticed by the audience and some so ostentatious that they're the main "spotlight" in the show. In this metaphorical world, there is a star, the Higgs Boson, or just the Higgs. It's a show that's never been seen before, with all the actors working together in one big play! The turn of the 21st century has given rise to potential for discovery. 

General relativity, what makes it so general? From Einstein's theory of special relativity, he ultimately inferred that space and time can be bent, like a fabric. This is proven, in class, by Craig who showed that gravity and acceleration both have similar behaviors. Objects with heavier mass tend to create more "acceleration" with objects rotating around it. Craig demonstrated this through a cloth (you can see it in Kai's blog) and as objects traveled towards the "heavy" object, they accelerate around it. Through this, space-time seems like a fabric that can bend and is an actual field. It should be noted that objects travel STRAIGHT towards the object, but it appears to curve. This also supports the fact that gravity is a field (through non-Euclidian geometry, triangles are not 180 degrees).

Fortunately, we had Professor Lipeles, who worked as a scientist for the Higgs project, and he did a phenomenal job in comprehensively explaining particle physics. He thoroughly explained leptops, bosons, waves, fields, particles, and led it all up to the discovery of the Higgs particle. Essentially, particles interact with the Higgs field by pushing on the field and that results in the object having energy, therefore mass (e = mc^2, energy is interchangeable with mass). The particle is essential to proving that the field exists because through a collision model, it would not be complete nor make sense unless the Higgs exists. Through collisions at the Large Hadron Collider, they were able to get reproducible results and coincidentally on the day as Einstein's birthday, they confirmed the particle. This discovery has potential for further investigations of fields and particles (maybe dark matter). I was enlightened by Professor Lipeles's lecture, it gave me more insight on the future. The discovery of the particle may not be practical now, but years from now, I would not be surprised if engineers and physicists find an application for the particle to be useful in everyday life. The same thing happened with the discovery of the electron. Now, our world is filled with electronics. Anyways, I learned everything I know of physics indirectly through conversations, Youtube videos, online lectures on MIT courseware, and papers, but I did not feel limited at all when I conversed with Professor Lipeles. Although I probably won't understand the mathematics behind particle physics, that's not a problem. I'll be taking small steps. 

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