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Science Technology

The Art of Particle Physics 125

PhysicsDavid writes to tell us about an article in Symmetry magazine. Jan-Henrik Anderson, a designer with a background in architecture, has collaborated with several particle physicists to develop visual representations of particles based on their physical characteristics. It is the closest most will ever get to 'seeing' a top quark.
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The Art of Particle Physics

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  • It must just be me (Score:4, Interesting)

    by geomon ( 78680 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @05:19PM (#13776792) Homepage Journal
    But I don't see much difference in the representation of top and down quarks in the panels shown.

    That said, I always find it interesting how the visual arts community attempts to capture the reality of the world based on the known principles of their day. Looking back through history at the artist rendering of our world provides us with a unique perspective on how wrong we were in describing the world in art.

    I'm afraid that the world of quantum mechanics is just too weird for us to capture in visual display. Perhaps it will take someone like Dali [] or Escher [] to provides us with a view of the quantum world.

    But again, it could just be me.
    • But I don't see much difference in the representation of top and down quarks in the panels shown.

      Lucky you. I don't see a damn thing because Slashdot has destroyed another unlucky webserver.
    • You're right it must be you... because they all look strange to me.
    • by starwed ( 735423 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @06:04PM (#13777128)

      For each generation of quarks, the article says that the two types of quark (such as top and down) are complements of each other; that is, if you put them on top of each other it creates a solid space.

      Overall they did a decent job of representing the spin, color, and generation. And they chose a shape which has an orientation, so that direction can be expressed. I'm not sure that you get so good feel for the masses of the particles, though...

      • Complements (Score:4, Interesting)

        by benhocking ( 724439 ) <{benjaminhocking} {at} {}> on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @06:28PM (#13777290) Homepage Journal

        Yeah, I noticed that too. I think this might lead to misconceptions that up/down, strange/charmed, top/bottom have the same relationships to each other as guanine/cytosine and adenine/(uracil|thymine), when, of course, these pairs merely represent (AFAIK) sibling relationships within a family. First of all, quarks come in threes, not twos (unless you consider anti-quarks to be quarks), and secondly, the threesomes can come from combinations from different families, such as \Lambda^0 which is one each of the up, down, and strange quarks.

        I was hoping that the designs had something to do with their proposed string theory vibrations, but as far as I can tell, this was not the inspiration. Instead, TFA mentions that the shapes are just to indicate whether the particles are first, second, or third "generation".

        • Re:Complements (Score:2, Interesting)

          by sanx ( 696287 )
          The problem with trying to represent superstrings visually is that the whole basis of superstring theory revolves around a multi-dimensional space. Superstrings (and I'm no particle physicist) are meant to oscillate both clockwise and anti-clockwise simultaneously, with each oscillation existing in both the four main dimensions plus up to seven more.

          Whilst the skill of graphical artists continually amazes me, I think trying to represent eleven dimensions on a 2D plane would prove to be somewhat difficult,

        • I'm not completely sure what you're trying to say, when you say that quarks come in threes, but Mesons are built from pairs of quarks (say, positively charged Pion = up + anti-down).

          Mathematically speaking, the requirement is that the observable particles be SU(3)-singlets, i.e. states which are invariant under SU(3) transformations in color space.
          • To be more detailed (Score:3, Interesting)

            by benhocking ( 724439 )

            When I say quarks come in threes, I mean they come in multiples of three - usually -1, 0, or 1 multiple of 3.

            A few ways you can get to 3:

            • 1-1 quarks (quark/anti-quark). Examples: pions et al
            • 3 quarks. Examples: proton, neutron, $\Lambda^0$
            • -3 quarks. Examples: antiproton, antineutron, etc.
            • 2-2 quarks (2 quarks/2 anti-quarks). Defined as: 4-quarks []
            • 4-1 quarks (4 quarks/1 anti-quark). Defined as pentaquarks []
            • 1-4 quarks. Defined as anti-particles of above.
            • 6 quarks. Examples: neutron-pairs or proton-pairs
            • -
            • I was under the impression that only fermions had three quarks,whereas bosons had two. Was I mistaken?
              • Particles with 3 quarks are fermions, and particles with 2 quarks (or more exactly, 1 quark and 1 anti-quark) are bosons.

                However, fermions do not necessarily have 3 quarks, and bosons do not necessarily have 2 quarks. Any particle with a half-integer spin is a fermion. This includes electrons, neutrinos, and hadrons with an odd number of quark/anti-quarks. Any particle with an even-integer spin is a boson. This includes photons, gravitons, and hadrons with an even number of quark/anti-quarks. Neutron-pair

    • by hazem ( 472289 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @07:05PM (#13777524) Journal
      The book "Art & Physics" by Leonard Shlain, [], actually argues the opposite. His research shows that for certain cases in physics, what happened in art actualy preceeded, and in a way, predicted breakthroughs in physics.

      From the website:
      Leonard Shlain proposes that the visionary artist is the first member of a culture to see the world in a new way. Then, nearly simultaneously, a revolutionary physicist discovers a new way to think about the world. Escorting the reader through the classical, medieval, Renaissance and modern eras, Shlain shows how the artists' images when superimposed on the physicists' concepts create a compelling fit.

      I haven't read this particular book, but I read his other two: Sex, Time, & Power, and Alphabet vs. The Goddess. They were fascinating reads!

      • From one of the chapters: "Even the stereotypical proponents of each endeavor are polar opposites. In college, the hip avant-garde art students generally do not mingle with their more conventional counterparts in the physics department."

        Funny that he made that observation because the only two departments on the campus I attended would still have lights on after 8:00 pm were physics and art.

        You'd think they would have noticed themselves and offered to buy each other a round. ;)
        • That's interesting, on my campus (the univ of north carolina at charlotte) its engineering and physics that are usually the night owls on campus. None of the arts students I know seem to put on late hours (and by late I mean post-midnight) unless its final paper/project week
      • I've read it a couple of times (had it for ~10 years). IIRC, Shlain is a neurosurgeon.
  • Website Mistake. (Score:5, Informative)

    by pavon ( 30274 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @05:19PM (#13776793)
    There is an error in the website - the bottom row of quarks is not correct.
    The pdf version [] of the site shows the correct models.

    I spent forever staring at those incorrect models trying to make sense of them, before realizing that top and down were the same, and that something must be wrong :)
  • Particles (Score:1, Funny)

    by AlphaSector ( 676934 )
    can apparently be slashdotted too
  • I can't see the URL from the headline, but the PDF works fine ...
  • by LithiumX ( 717017 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @05:26PM (#13776858)
    It's perfect. When you go there, you see nothing. This is probably the best way to visually describe a quark - something which is, for all intents and purposes, nothing that builds something.
  • It is the closest most will ever get to 'seeing' a top quark.

    Damn, slashdotted. I'm late to the party again. Then again, maybe this is the way phyicists are getting revenge for never being invited to those sorts of parties [].

  • by Anonymous Coward
    It is the closest most will ever get to 'seeing' a top quark.

    What about seeing a "top-less" quark?
  • could be better? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lawpoop ( 604919 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @05:34PM (#13776918) Homepage Journal
    I'm wondering why the illustrators chose to show these as 'solid' objects, and not clouds or even animated swirling clouds.

    As a non-scientist, the images I was exposed to growing up were always spheres orbiting spheres, which inevitably led to the 'realization' of everyone I knew (including myself) at some point in their life that atoms were just like the solar system, and what if we are in just a big atom, and atoms really are just little solar systems...? This image [], showing the electron 'cloud' around a hydrogen nucleus, is very enlightening for someone who is terrible at math. Totally destroys the 'recursing solar system' theory ;)

    • Well, if you acelerate time fast enough, and choose the right frame of reference, the Earth could describe a cloud around the sun as well as an electron around a nucleus.

      (disclaimer: I used to dream about atoms being little solar systems too, and I dont want to throw those ideas from my childhood so easily!! :)

    • Sir, how do you make sense of the diagram you linked to? I see orange and black patterns like the ones on origami paper. '-' is there an article that goes along with the image?
      • If I'm not mistaken those orange areas denote areas of probability in which an electron in a given orbit will appear. The probability comes into play because electrons don't have "orbits" like planets have orbits, they have "areas" within which they vibrate randomly.
    • That's the problem they are trying to address. How do you symbolize or represent something that has no reference in the macroscopic world? Does anyone think the particles in question are really those colors and have those spins? The color and spin are attributes that are not really anything like the color and spin of solid objects at our level of reality. The spins, colors and new illustrations are strictly symbolic.
    • I was actually thinking he should draw them as 11-dimensional strings. We currently don't have much evidence supporting Dr. Seuss's Horton Hears a Who model of the universe.
    • The picture on Wikipedia represents electron wave functions (with brighter spots corresponding to higher probabilities densities of the electron position). This ias a "static" (=time-independent) representation.

      Spheres orbiting spheres is a time-dependent representation. Note, that electrons still do fly around protons.

      I think, this confusion between electron orbitals as wave functions (time-independent) and as particel movement around a center (time-dependent) is very popular, even under academics.
      • Spheres orbiting spheres is a time-dependent representation. Note, that electrons still do fly around protons.

        You ought to be a bit more precise about what you mean by "fly around," since the s orbital states have zero orbital angular momentum and zero expected linear velocity relative to the nucleus. Also, the only time-dependent behavior in these states is a phase rotation, which doesn't change the probability densities being depicted in the charts. Perhaps it would be more appropriate to say that th

  • by Jason1729 ( 561790 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @05:35PM (#13776925)
    It is the closest most will ever get to 'seeing' a top quark What does a wave in the ocean look like when you remove the water but not the wave? These particles don't have a "look" in any sense we can understand. Current theory is they're harmonic vibrations in the substructure of the universe. It is a fictional piece of art.
    • I've just started on the Navier-Stokes equations, Reynolds numbers and the other nuts and bolts of viscous flow in my Maths degree course. Turns out that last year's Fluid Dynamics course (Euler's equation, Bernoulli etc) was about 50% complete bull. But the bull was necessary to keep us awake and interested long enough to get to the good stuff. Same with almost every science or maths class I've ever taken (the "set theory" we did in First Year being the classic example). Same with this art.
    • by jkauzlar ( 596349 ) * on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @09:14PM (#13778379) Homepage
      The familiar model of the atom is just as fictional, but has been extremely useful for visualizing the atom's properties and structure, particularly for beginners in physics or chemistry students, for whom the knowledge of an electron being both a wave and a particle is too-much-information. These pictures, or something like them, could be potentially useful for scientists. The particle's spin becomes a visual part of the particle and not just a number associated with it! On the other hand, the figures might be too difficult for most professors to draw on a chalkboard.
  • by Richy_T ( 111409 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @05:36PM (#13776937) Homepage
    Physical diagram basics

    Electron: Draw small circle with minus sign in it.

    Proton: Draw small but slightly larger circle with plus sign in it.

    Quark: Fire up raytracing software. For hardcopy, be sure to have a color printer handy.

    So much for back-of-a-napkin physics.

    • by neocrono ( 619254 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @05:51PM (#13777032)
      If you can't accurately and easily render a volumetric superquadratic ellipsoid with specific parameters on the back of a napkin, maybe you shouldn't be in the field of physics in the first place. Nobody said it was going to be all fun and games.

      The times, they are a-changin'.

      (got sarcasm?)
      • Well, I personally think you should be able to competantly draw in 11 dimensions on the back of a napkin if you're going to study physics, but your comment was good enough to earn you a resounding "Zing!" for the day.
    • Physics shouldn't be about scratches and squawks at all unless you are grossly simplyfying it. The spatialization of physics when codified to me has the potential to demonstrate and model concepts effectively without breaking down into a strange argot, an implausible analogy or some other such hoodwink.
    • Your mod "funny" but you have a vary valid point I would say. What he is presenting can be boiled down to a "new notation". More pleasing to the eye, but significantly more cumbersome to use. A notation success is usually determine but it ability to underline the inherent structure of the system studied. By doing this it allows us to understand more easily what is going on and what is important. In this case, and don't see what his "notation" hads to particle physics except for its visually quality... I su
  • Antimatter (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tumbarumba ( 74816 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @05:37PM (#13776939) Homepage
    I have some friends who play around all day smashing antimatter into matter, which I think sounds like a fun hobby. The theory of what they do is well above my head, but I recently got a chance to contribute by creating a new website for them at the Center for Antimatter-Matter Studies []. Check it out (though I'm afraid there aren't any pics of quarks)
    • Re:Antimatter (Score:2, Interesting)

      by KanadaKid19 ( 886639 )
      Looks like you gathered some inspiration from [http], am I correct?
      • Looks like you gathered some inspiration from [] am I correct?

        Yes, you are quite correct (as you can easily determine if you look inside the master.css file). Simplebits gave me some initial ideas about colours and layouts. The sliding doors technique described on A List Apart helped complete the menu, and numerous other tweaks and improvements from other articles on that site. Ruby and ERB does a lot of heavy lifting in regards to assembling various bits of body and sidebard con

  • Cache (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    The Coral cache [] version worked for me.
  • by Shadow Wrought ( 586631 ) <> on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @05:48PM (#13777006) Homepage Journal
    Someone opened the box. It's dead.
  • Quark! (Score:4, Informative)

    by Misanthrope ( 49269 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @05:50PM (#13777018)
    Little bit of humorous background.

    The name "quark" was taken by Murray Gell-Mann from the book "Finnegan's Wake" by James Joyce. The line "Three quarks for Muster Mark..." appears in the fanciful book. Gell-Mann received the 1969 Nobel Prize for his work in classifying elementary particles.
  • The visual appearance of an object is defined by how photons of different frequencies bounce off the object. Yet these images may not reflect that. Do colored quarks really interact with different frequencies (=energies) differently?

    I wonder what these quarks sound like, smell like, or feel like.

    • I wonder what these quarks sound like, smell like, or feel like.

      Based on the universal poultry constant, the answer is intuitively Chicken.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      The "color" characteristic is taken from quantum chromodynamics []. It has almost nothing to do with what we usually associate with the word color. In QCD, there are three types of "charge" instead of just one type as in electrodynamics, so these three types are referred to as colors. It fits because most humans perceive a three dimensional color space spanned by red, green, and blue.
    • Hey, im no particle physicist, but arent quarks way to small for any of this to really matter anyway? They dont really have a look, taste, smell or sound, because the messengers that carry these signals are much bigger than quarks, and some are even made of quarks. For instance, smell is the nose bits working out what molecule is in the nose, and telling ur brain. Taste is similar, though with the tongue. Sound is a little wierd, in that i suppose you could work out the frequency that the quark is viabratin
    • I wonder what these quarks sound like, smell like, or feel like.
      I can't answer that, but taste at least is easy... they come in six fantastic flavors!
  • by TigerNut ( 718742 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @05:51PM (#13777034) Homepage Journal
    They have it: Mirrordot front page []. You do have to get the PDF to see the corrected picture...
  • The images were just kind of... blah. Just the name Quark sounds somewhat exotic and these pictures are anything but. It looks about like something I would have made years ago when I was first learning 3d Studio Max. Is this really what quarks and photons are supposed to 'look' like or what?

    Maybe it was a case like this gem [] where some phycist was making a joke out of a colleague's poor artistic skills...
  • Does anyone else see a debian logo if you mirror that thing?
  • by loose_cannon_gamer ( 857933 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @05:57PM (#13777077)
    Any art collection with pieces like "Higgs Field 3 (Interaction with third generation fermions), ink on canvas, 42x56" is just freaking cool.

    Sure beats, "Man on a chair" in my book any day.

  • "Most"? (Score:3, Funny)

    by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @05:57PM (#13777082) Homepage
    > It is the closest most will ever get to 'seeing' a top quark.

    You figure there is some means whereby some will get closer?
    • Re:"Most"? (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Yes, the formalisms of quantum field theory and group theory. It's a heck of a lot closer than these pictures...

      I've heard advanced mathematics described as "silent music" - in every way as interesting and pleasing as Beethoven, except impossible to "hear" directly.
  • The link in the article AND the PDF are both wrong for what they call the legend.

    It's here: r/standard_model.htm []

  • I'm no physicist, but it seems to me that anything that looks that complex has to be made of smaller parts...

    I mean, look at that rendering of a photon: it has a tube down the middle? What's in that tube? Shouldn't the most base substance of the universe be spheres? Can't think of a simpler structure...

    Again, with the I'm not a physicist.

    • Re:Working for Me (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Suicyco ( 88284 )
      What is there between an electron and a neutron?

      At these scales, "things" become meaningless. Its just points of force and energy wiggling near each other. There would simply be "nothing" in the "tube" in a photon (remember its just an artists representation).

      What is there between two oxygen molecules in the near void of space?

      These things aren't made of anything. They are parts of an equation. We don't even know that they exist in any real sense, we can only infer their existence through crude macro scale
      • Sorry to bring in personal opinion/current pet hate but are things really part of an equation? is that what they really are? or is maths just a way to model the world so that some predictions may be made? I think maths is beggining to get in the road of true understanding in phsyics, so many people are deterred by the maths, that would otherwise be perfectly good at understanding the entire universe's workings (not just the models) through imagination/builiding a 3d moving picture in one's mind. I guess wha
        • I think maths is beggining to get in the road of true understanding in phsyics, so many people are deterred by the maths, that would otherwise be perfectly good at understanding the entire universe's workings (not just the models) through imagination/builiding a 3d moving picture in one's mind.

          Well, what you said there is true, in the Fairy Tale Universe. But unfortunately, the real one appears to be bit too complex to completely grasp intuitively. But hey, if building a 3d moving picture in your head ev
        • It simply cannot be grasped without a proper modelling method, ie. mathematics. (Normal)People most certainly cannot fathom the bizarre complexities of a universe so immensely intricate and complicated. How do you envision in your head the event horizon of a black hole? It makes no logical sense, your mind is not capable of modelling these constructs as you don't have the bits and pieces which make up the model. The maths involved are merely explanations, models. The universe most likely does not conform t
    • I'm no physicist, but it seems to me that anything that looks that complex has to be made of smaller parts...

      Hmm, maybe the pictures are intended to make you wonder that?

      I mean, quarks are the most elementary particles that we know of, but there are still quite a few varieties of quark (remember, we used to think we could explain all forms of matter with protons, neutrons, and electrons). What makes all these quarks different? Are they elementary, or are they made of something else?
  • Symmetry (Score:2, Funny)

    by JeiFuRi ( 888436 )
    So if its symmetry magazine, does that mean that it prints twice as much pages as it normally would?
  • The legend [] gives the W boson an electric charge of zero, rather than the usual W+ with +1 and W- with -1.

    Also, it seems odd to have the boson part of the chart arranged so that the photon is so visually connected with the quarks.

  • Does anyone know which CMS they're running? It's not advertized anywhere.
  • Photons... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Johnno74 ( 252399 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @08:13PM (#13778019)
    Ahhh so THATS what a photon looks like. I hadn't seen one before.

  • by xPsi ( 851544 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @09:58PM (#13778587)
    I'm sure I don't have to remind most Slashdotter's that there is a big difference between visually encoding or organizing all of a particle's properties in a single image (a superperiodic-like table) and what that particle "looks like" physically or geometrically (through some filter of choice). Anderson trys to explain that he is doing the former by calling his method a "visual language" or "representation." The effort to visualize these things geometrically is going to be a much, much bigger task than is shown at that web site.

    Moreover, as an encoder of particle properties, he has forgotten to include a bunch of those properties in his representations. There are also some funny misleading conventions too. For example, his representation does not even begin to convey how much more massive the top quark is than the up quark. So much for building intution. Also, intrinsic spin is a subtle beast and he seems to sweep the details under the carpet. For example, a spin 1/2 object (like a quark) must be be rotated 720 degrees before it returns to its original state. Making a little curley fry to represent a spin 1/2 object seems a lazy, misleading, and simply wrong.

    In my opinion, while the art is an attractive visual treat (and certainly a little physics PR is not bad), it seems a long way from being a complete, useful, or pedagogical representation of these complex objects.

    And yes, IAAP

    • by theonewho ( 686963 ) on Thursday October 13, 2005 @12:02AM (#13779152)
      hey now,

      [disclaimer: IAAHEP]

      a most basic lack in the visual representation of these "objects" is the lack of *relationship* -- quarks *cannot* exist in isolation in our dimensioned universe, just as leptons (in the understanding of them as point particles) *must* be "dressed" by virtual interactions -- reducing quarks and leptons to static visual representations is a dis-service at both the PR and substantive levels (interestingly enough, before i was a HEP, i was a PR flack -- life is so strange)

      it is not the "objects" but the "operators" that connect them that contain nearly all the wonder and understanding -- the representation (visual, sonic, olfactory, mathematical or what-have-you) of a quark or lepton is interesting and useful only insofar as it leads to a deeper understanding of the way they are embedded into the whole world -- this depth of understanding seems to me to be the goal of both interesting art and science, and it does not seem to be well served by the images offered here

      to my mind (viz. IMHO), feynman diagrams are a deeper and truer art in the sense that they evoke the underlying nature of the thing they purport to represent -- think of feynman diagrams in the same sense as picasso's line art -- the only difference i see is that picasso drew up in us the things we (or nearly all of we) share in our wordless hearts while feynman created a method of seeing new things in a way that leveraged old visual understandings -- feynman's vision (his *notation*) will only be superseded in the sense that newton's representation of gravitational interaction is superseded by einstein's -- the images presented here lack this deeper nature

      kevin (as if you didn't already know!)
  • It is the closest most will ever get to 'seeing' a top quark.

    Seems awfully shortsighted to me. I would hope that as we learn more about the quantum world, we will be able to develop more accurate visual models of it. Or am I missing something?

    • Seems awfully shortsighted to me. I would hope that as we learn more about the quantum world, we will be able to develop more accurate visual models of it. Or am I missing something?

      Do you mean "accurate visual" in the sense of being more like what quark looks like, or a more accurate visualisation of it's characteristics?

      If you mean the former, then I think that Quantum Mechanics pretty much precludes that possibility - the more precisely a (very small) object's location is known, the less precisely it's m
  • .....Someone puts something on /. that is TOTALLY incomprehensible. Thank you for bringing me back down to earth. "Uhhhhh.........the pictures sure are purty"
  • Anyone interested in Jan's drawings, might find books the 1908 edition of OCCULT CHEMISTRY, by Annie Besant & Charles Leadbeater, quite interesting indeed, especially those aware of its comtemporary interpretation by Stephen M. Phillips entitled: Extra Sensory Perceptions of Quarks. Potentially better still might be the 1878 wonder PRINCIPLES OF LIGHT AND COLOR, by Edwin D. Babbitt. Those interested in this title would do well to avoid the edited 1967 edition of this text, as the editor a certain Faber
  • by agentkhaki ( 92172 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @11:39PM (#13779050) Homepage
    Well, not entirely. To start, he'll be lecturing [] (scroll about half-way down) on November 10th, 5:00 PM at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor, MI. If you can make it, go see him. You'll not be disappointed.

    A couple of other links from the page above:

    The rest is slightly off-topic.

    I actually had Jan-Henrick as a professor in college [] for Introduction to Industrial Design. One of the top five classes I had there. Not only is he an incredibly smart guy, he's also very well rounded, with knowledge and background in all manner of subjects and interests, some well-known, others quite obscure. And he's absolutely one of the nicest people you'll ever meet. It only makes sense that he was hired there when they were just starting to implement the new curriculum, which has a much greater emphasis on diversity of learning [].
  • This stuff is just beautiful. It makes me miss doing physics all the more. I was taught that ultimately we were just building models to explain and predict the real world and not to confuse the model with reality, whatever that is. But I've always had a thing for lovely models!
  • Aptlets (Score:2, Informative)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 )
    I've always enjoyed Greg Egan's gallery of applets [] illustrating the quantum physics that often underlie his splendiferous fiction []. Egan is a scientist, a programmer, and a top notch fiction writer. I recommend _Diaspora_ [] first (the book is better than its applet) - its characters are quite good, the story interesting, the future vision compelling. And somewhere in the first 15% of the book, Egan blows your mind describing higher-dimensional quantum topology that's also integral (pun intended) to the story.
  • Seeing the photon rendition reminded me of virtual photons. I wonder how such art would represent virtual particles?

    Now, I have seen said in many places that virtual photons are the carriers of the electromagnetic force. With infinite range, the carrier would have to be of a class like a photon.

    What I haven't seen yet is a cogent explanation as to why a "colorless", chargeless particle could carry both the attractive (positive to negative) and repulsive (positive-positive or negative-negative) forces. I

  • Since quarks are spin-1/2 particles they have to be rotated through 720 degrees to get back to their original state and not 360 degress like normal objects. So these pics are a long way from what an actual quark might look like (not to mention they label the W boson as neutral when it is actually charged!).

Our business in life is not to succeed but to continue to fail in high spirits. -- Robert Louis Stevenson