Friday, March 25, 2016

update on truth blog: 4th neutrino calls standard model into question

For my 25th college anniversary, I wrote this rather long document about my lifelong search for "truth:"

original truth blog

I think I was the only one who, in response to a question of what I had been doing since college, gave an intellectual history of myself, rather than an exclusively personal history.  Aspects of my personal life came into it, but the focus was intellect.

It was one of about 3 essays in the 25th reunion book that was as long as it was.  Most people confined themselves to a few paragraphs. I've often described myself as having diarrhea of the keyboard.  Still a couple of my friends read it and liked it.

I noticed, though, that I was also the only one who ever wrote in to our college newsletter with a review of a book that I was excited about that I thought my classmates might like, because the author was a late, well-known professor from our college.

Granted it's nice to learn about weddings, kids, job changes, and moves -- but didn't we meet by going to college together?  Wasn't that an intellectual endeavor? Didn't that make us feel like exchanging intellectual ideas?

Ok, nevermind.

Anyway, the truth essay was brought to mind to my mind today, because I read that a 4th neutrino had been tentatively identified, and that it was outside the Standard Model.  The Standard Model is a family of sub-sub-atomic particles that replaced the earlier neutron/proton/electron atomic model of the elements -- to oversimplify.

The Standard Model was just starting to coalesce when I was in college and it was only just fully confirmed in 2009 with a believable study of the Top Quark, aka "god particle."

But, now, back to the drawing board, apparently, only five years later.

One aspect of my truth essay was the concept that science was violating Occam's razor.  Science keeps getting more and more complex and elaborate.  It has to have more and more theories. Exceptions to those theories keep getting found.  It's never like we can get to a final theory and stop.  Just when the Standard Model seemed like the definitive answer, something that doesn't fit into it is found.

This was one of the things that caused me to lose faith in physics and not pursue it professionally as an adult.


Here's another one of those -- physics is not complete issues 

Why is the universe expanding? At least, astronomers believe it is expanding.  Studying astronomy was part of what made me lose faith in physics.  Trying to grasp the enormity of the universe, helped me see how very small we are in comparison.  The idea that we could really understand it seemed absurd.

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