God Particle Summaries

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  • Topic: Particle physics, Electron, Standard Model
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  • Published : March 21, 2011
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Will Turner
God Particle Rough Draft Summaries

Chapter 1:
Dr. Lederman uses a metaphor of a soccer game with an invisible ball to show the process by which the existence of particles is worked out. This metaphor is useful to get a sense of the experience of a particle physicist as he or she conducts his or her experiments in the particle accelerator. This chapter Dr. Lederman gives a brief background story of what led him to particle physics.

Chapter 2:
In a fictional dream, Dr. Lederman meets Democritus, an ancient Greek philosopher who lived during the Classical Greek Civilization and has a conversation with him. The conversation is actually in the form of a Socratic dialogue. The two have an informative dialogue about physics. Many of Democritus' ideas have tested true up to the present time. Dr. Lederman points out that Democritus was in the midst of an age of superstition with the Greek pantheon of gods. In Greek popular culture nature was believed to be originated from supernatural forces, the Greek gods. After their dialogue, Dr. Lederman tells the reader more about Democritus when he writes “Imagine, then the focus and integrity of a mind that could ignore the popular beliefs of the age and come up with concepts harmonious with quark and quantum theory.” This focus and integrity is summed up with two profound and insightful statements, which Dr. Lederman believes to be “two of the most scientifically intuitive quotes ever uttered by an ancient: “everything existing in the universe is the fruit of chance and necessity.’” These last Democritus quotes describe today's quantum mechanics.

Chapter 3:
The chapter discussed mathematicians such as Vincenzo Galilei. He was one of the most important mathematicians since he did something that was revolutionary for his time he experimented. He experimented so he could prove a point to his teacher, Gioseffo Zarlino that there were non-Pythagorean mathematical relationships in the musical scale. Galiliei’s experimenting was particularly important since his son was Galileo Galiliaei and witnessed all the experiments that his father performed which had a deep impact on the younger Galilei. Galileo Galilei became famous for his attention to the study of motion. Galileo realized he could study the free fall of objects with a ball and an inclined plane. This would allow the motion of the ball to be slowed enough to be observed and measured, rather than a quick free fall. He kept repeating this experiment with steeper inclinations until the ball rolled too fast for him too measure. He was able to use his measurements and observations to explain the motion of free fall. When he rolled the ball over stiff lute strings tied across a tilted board it would make a clicking sound. His musician's ear was able to detect the timing of the ball over the strings as it rolled over them. He discovered that a “falling object doesn’t just drop, but drops faster and faster and faster and faster over time.” This is where he concluded that an object's speed increases over time as it falls downward. He was the first to develop the formula s = At2, which is used to calculate the free fall of any object toward earth. Galileo was not only famous for his study of motion though. Galileo was also known for his study on atoms. Galileo believed that atoms were the smallest quanta of matter and that there are an infinite number of atoms separated by an infinite number of voids. Galileo is best known for his telescopes though. At the time, people were very dismissive and critical of his telescopes though. It was necessary to calibrate his telescopes which worked fine with terrestrial object but not with planetary objects.

The next astronomer that Dr. Lederman describes was Tycho Brahe, a Danish nobleman who devoted himself solely to physics. He was the most precise of astronomers and contributed to astronomy by making modifications to several important instruments that astronomers of that day...
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