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I WRITE ESSAYs

CHAPTER 14: RICHARD FEYNMAN + JULIAN SCHWINGER

CHAPTER 14:  RICHARD FEYNMAN + JULIAN SCHWINGER

“He had the ideas and then I translated them into math” —–Freeman Dyson re Richard Feynman

Richard Feynman + Julian Schwinger:  two physicists with very different mathematical approaches, who each developed a successful way to describe and explain the behavior of sub-atomic “particles” — and shared a Nobel prize (1965) for doing so.

Born in the same year (1918), each started learning mathematics at a young age, and went on to invent some new mathematics, after thoroughly mastering the “ordinary” maths which physicists use.

Schwinger used something called “Green’s functions” as a starting point on his math-journey.  Feynman invented his own math symbols, which only he could read, and eventually invented “Feynman diagrams” — which other PhD-holders learned to know and love,  and which today appear in almost every modern physics book in the entire known universe.  Particularly [pun intended] the books re “particle” physics.

There was a famous physics conference at Pocono Manor, in Pennsylvania’s Appalachian mountains, in March of 1948, a few days after I was born:  I always have fun when I read about it in a physics book, and it’s in many of them.  Almost every important American theoretical physicist, and some European ones, were there.

Schwinger’s presentation continued for 7 or 8 hours, and was very dense with maths, line after line, page after page.  Yet the conference room was still packed when he finished, as he was the current young super-star in physics at that time.  Feynman’s presentation followed Schwinger’s, but was not as well-received as Schwinger’s.

Yet, when they compared notes, they realized that they had essentially solved the same theoretical problem by two different methods:  each had climbed to the top of the same mountain, by two very different and very difficult routes … paths … lines of thought.

Their very different mathematical approaches actually gave answers which agreed very accurately with experimental evidence.  If their results had not agreed with experiment, then their work would not have led to Nobel prizes.  The important thing here was not that their maths agreed with each other, but that they agreed with the experimental evidence.

As it turned out, there was a third gentleman, not present at that 1948 conference, who had been working on the same problem, in Japan:  Sin-Itiro Tomonaga would eventually share the 1965 Nobel prize with Feynman + Schwinger for independently —(and several years earlier !!)— developing a similar-but-different approach to solve the same problem.

Plus:  a 4th gentleman, younger than the other three, probably would have shared the same Nobel prize, if the Nobel-prize committee did not have a tradition of awarding no more than three individuals for the same accomplishment.  This 4th individual was Freeman Dyson, of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, USA, who wrote a series of papers to show that the maths which the three other theorists used were essentially equivalent to each other.

One of the very amazing things about math is that it is almost infinitely diverse, and almost infinitely deep, and can be adapted to describe and/or explain almost any situation — even one which might not actually exist in reality.

Murray Gell-Mann, who “invented” quark-theory during the 1960s, suggested at that time that “quarks” might be mere mathematical conveniences — tools which one can use to analyze and calculate how tiny objects behave, but not themselves real “particles.”  “It’s fun to speculate about the way quarks would behave if they were … real” [p.323, Ref.#17, p.88. Ref.#30].  “Even after the New York Times had [featured] quarks in [a] 1967 article, Gell-Mann was quoted as saying [that] the quark was likely to turn out to be merely ‘a useful mathematical figment’ ” [p.292, Ref.#39].

The important thing re quark theory is that it gives results which agree very accurately with experimental evidence.  Likewise, Dr. Ernest Sternglass (the main “character” in this series of essays) insisted that his “semi-classical” model, (the “electron-positron pair model of matter”), was able to accurately explain masses and lifetimes of all the newly discovered “particles.”

See, for example, the Proceedings of the Resonant Particles Conference, Athens, Ohio (1965):       file:///C:/Users/adult/Desktop/Sternglass%20Proceedings%202nd%20top%20conf%20Resonant%20Particles%201965.PDF

… PLUS:  the Proceedings of the American Physical Society’s annual meeting (1964):   http://www.osti.gov/scitech/biblio/4885112

… PLUS:  here is a LINK to a BOOK, published in 1964, in which Sternglass’s contribution is a chapter titled:  “Evidence for a Molecular Structure of Heavy Mesons”:

http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1964nust.conf..340S

And here’s an other Sternglass-paper, from IL NUOVO CIMENTO 35(1): 227-260 (December 1964): 

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/226502314_Electron-positron_model_for_the_charged_mesons_and_pion_resonances

—–{ PLEASE NOTE:  you might need to “copy” + “paste” the LINKs (above), to get them to work }—–

Sternglass’s model is much simpler than quark theory, and has the added bonus that it’s visualizable:  “anschaulich” in German:  Einstein believed that a theory of model should be visualizable.  Plus, Sternglass’s model relies on electrons + positrons, which are KNOWN to exist, while “quarks” HAVE NEVER BEEN OBSERVED IN AN PHYSICS LAB !!  [p.323, Ref.#17] … 

In other words:  Sternglass’s model uses electrons + positrons to solve the same problem for which the standard model needed to “invent” a long list of “new” “particles.”

So how and why is it that every university physics department now teaches quark theory to grad students, while Sternglass’s model is almost unknown and/or forgotten ??

Well, it’s about personality:  Feynman had a very strong personality, and his ability to inspire and influence others in his chosen field of study is legendary:  evidently he helped to convince Gell-Mann, (and in fact the entire physics community), to accept quark theory as the best way to explain how tiny objects behave.  “By the early 1970s Feynman had become convinced that the partons [in HIS theory] had all of the properties of Gell-Mann’s hypothetical quarks (and Zweig’s aces), though he continued to talk in parton language (perhaps to annoy Gell-Mann)”  [pp.299+300, Ref.#39].  {Please note that Feynman’s office at Caltech was right next door to Gell-Mann’s office, a fact which Sternglass mentions in his book [Ref.#1], and that a researcher named “Dr. Zweig” (also at Caltech) had developed a similar model, in which he called the little rascals “aces” instead of “quarks”}

Please note also this interesting comment re Feynman’s personality:  “It may … be true that … he could have accomplished much more had he been more willing to listen and learn from those around him, and insist less on discovering absolutely everything for himself” [p.314, Ref.#39].

Me???  I’m trying to learn enough quark theory to show that Dr. Ernest Sternglass might have developed an equivalent way to solve the same problem, (i.e., to describe and explain how sub-atomic “particles” behave), in addition to the ways in which Tomonaga + Schwinger + Feynman did.  And that he did so in a “semi-classical” way, using the ordinary maths (algebra + geometry + calculus) which high school students study, which many of us already know and love, with only minimal references to the fiendishly difficult maths associated with quark theory.  Wish me luck !!

$$$$$$$$$$$ << END OF CHAPTER 14 >> $$$$$$$$$$$

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One comment on “CHAPTER 14: RICHARD FEYNMAN + JULIAN SCHWINGER

  1. Pingback: book-title: VISUALIZE-ING “QUARKs” — sub-title: Essays re the Work of DR. ERNEST STERNGLASS + DR. MENAHEM SIMHONY | markcreekwater

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This entry was posted on February 27, 2016 by .
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