HMC Physics Colloquium
Tuesdays at 16:30 in Shanahan Center for Teaching and Learning, Room B460
University of California at Santa Cruz
April 29, 2014
Almost everyone has heard of the Standard Model of Particle Physics, and, while stifling a yawn, can regurgitate its particle content: six quarks, a handful of force particles like the photon and gluon, and of course now the Higgs boson. But what many fewer enjoy is an appreciation for the deep underlying mathematical structure that, once grasped, reduces the principles needed to understand the fundamental underpinnings of almost all everyday phenomena (and a lot of non-everyday phenomena to boot) to a set of almost stark simplicity. In this colloquium, making use only of elementary mathematics, I will introduce the essential notions of group theory needed to present the current theory force that binds nuclei together (the strong nuclear force). I will then discuss how it is that we can only understand the existence of composite nuclei, and thus atoms, and thus life itself, if we ascribe to nature certain properties that arise solely from the scrawlings of the abstract mathematician.