Cosmic Gall

By Sean Carroll | July 28, 2005 5:10 pm

I figured, for the first poem on the new blog, why not go for something topical? By John Updike.

Neutrinos they are very small.
They have no charge and have no mass
And do not interact at all.
The earth is just a silly ball
To them, through which they simply pass,
Like dustmaids down a drafty hall
Or photons through a sheet of glass.
They snub the most exquisite gas,
Ignore the most substantial wall,
Cold-shoulder steel and sounding brass,
Insult the stallion in his stall,
And, scorning barriers of class,
Infiltrate you and me! Like tall
And painless guillotines, they fall
Down through our heads into the grass.
At night, they enter at Nepal
And pierce the lover and his lass
From underneath the bed — you call
It wonderful; I call it crass.

Of course, we now know that they do have mass; fortunately, poetry does not have a tradition of submitting errata.

  • Gordon Chalmers

    Dear Sean,

    Long time. I figured that the neutrinos fit the match of the fermions, that is Lambda^n(Lambda^n/m^{pl})^4.
    I havent had a chance to talk about this with other physicists though. Lambda, by the way fits the first
    supersymmetry breaking scale of around 2 TeV.

    Gordon Chalmers

  • Gordon Chalmers


    I must be tired. As I work all the time, and I am sortof tired now. Woke up at 5:00 etc…

    The formula is really Lambda^2 (Lambda/m_{pl})^{n/16}. The sixteen is supposed to be relevant to the conformal group. Any way, you can look up some of these details in one of my papers, or the other ones by different authors.


  • tmccort

    Sure we know they have some mass now, but wasn’t this an open question when the poem was written?

  • tmccort

    “Of course, we now know that”

    Silly me.

  • Gordon Chalmers

    I guess my point is Occam’s razor.

    Why go for quoting the Gell-Man-Okubo-Levy formulae and their descendents when a simpler explanation is possible. The (gauge) instantonic formula for the masses is of course corrected by the perturbative contributions, which with some (hopefully)


    P.S. The web browser for the ‘blog’ is very well done.

  • Gordon Chalmers

    string and KK contributions produce the correct values.

    I suppose I should pose a question, as this is a forum. Why continue to quote 60’s literature in order to explain the masses when supersymmetry is around these days. And on top of that, why quote complicated formulae such as m_1 sim m_2^2 which seem to have a less simple explanation, such as instanton effects to explain fermion masses, especially when there is a quantum condition.


    P.S. The web-browser actually cut me off, so I take back what I said, although it is very nice.

  • Urbano

    And do not interact at all.

    We would need an errata here also. They do; weakly, but they do :-).

  • Quantoken

    Damn, you still have not fixed the word wrapping problem!


    What did I offend you that deserved being banned
    from your new blog? Frankly speaking censorship on
    the internet is physically impossible as you see.
    I can see all the files and have figured out a
    security vulnerability that could be easily used to
    take over control. But I am NOT going to use it.

    I just want to participate as a regular user in
    the discussions in the spirit of scientific freedom,
    with NO fear of censorship and prosecution.

    Please remove any censored IP from your .htaccess
    file. It means nothing! I knows the direct email address
    that can be used to bypass it and post messages directly.
    Do you want me to publicly reveal that email address? No?

    I do not mind if my comments are occasionally removed.
    But an outright ban is not acceptable, not is it even possible, as you see.


  • Gordon Chalmers

    I got to thinking more last night about the fermion masses.

    If the masses are instantonic generated, with the result being an approximate m_f=Lambda(Lambda/m_pl)^{n/16} as seems, then the contribution of the Higgs (or the severalscalars) should be suppressed by a factor of 5-100 in general.

    The question is that if this is true, that is, if the perturbative masses
    generate only 1/20 of an effect, doesnt that explain via the Yukawa
    couplings that the predictions for dark matter are now in agreement with experiment. I suppose electroweak baryogenesis should be re-examined.
    No calculations are sent here, unfortunately, but I think there is weight to it.

    Seemingly no one is responding.


  • Gordon Chalmers

    Its hard to imagine how hard scientists work and yet no response to this question. I think I will construct another E8 model to fit this. Dont you think that dark matter is important. I really havent lost my unknown temper, but I think that it is strange that people dont answer this question given all of the facts.


  • Gordon Chalmers

    By the way, I am writing a program in Matlab that generates amplitudes in generic qft theories. It shouldby three exponentials faster than existing programs, based on the estimates. It is actually quite a bit of work, and I would rather get paid for it.

    I can reverse engineer phenomena in either a condensed
    matter background or in an LHC background, including gravitational corrections. I can ‘reverse engineer’
    both CM and GR phenomena; the program though is quite
    a bit of work – and I DO NOT GET PAID. I think about
    1000 loops should be possible, by the standard loop
    formalism according to your textbooks (on my LAPTOP).

    The work is about 3000 lines in Matlab and finished in
    two months. All loop diagrams to any order are automated, based on tree diagrams and finished loop integrals.


  • Quantoken

    3000 lines of MatLab code in two months is pretty BAD. It would take me just two days to do the same thing. Go away and instead do something that gets you paid, please!

  • Pingback: Qulog » Like dustmaids down a drafty hall()


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Cosmic Variance

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About Sean Carroll

Sean Carroll is a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. His research interests include theoretical aspects of cosmology, field theory, and gravitation. His most recent book is The Particle at the End of the Universe, about the Large Hadron Collider and the search for the Higgs boson. Here are some of his favorite blog posts, home page, and email: carroll [at] .


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