Yesterday it was my pleasure to brief high school students and teachers attending National Youth Science Forum on particle physics before a video linkup to Rolf Landua at CERN. Here I give a brief overview of the talk given in Canberra and provide the slides.

In order to translate The Standard Model from the language of the universe (math) to English I used a analogy close to society. I described particles as people, and the standard model describes how they behave.

Starting with the particles. Fermions are people who are individually rich with a sort of resource but the grass is always greener and they want trade their resource with others. Bosons are then specialist merchants (or bankers) that facilitate this trade.

Then two more concepts to describe their behaviour.

  1. The word of the law is that total energy and charge must be conserved.

  2. Fermions exchange is in favour of minimising their energy, and neutralizing their charge i.e. they prefer to live in calm, neutral communities.

From these simple rules are built nuclei to form the elements. Then, bind electrons to them which then facilitates in production of molecules. The electrical signal that flows down your optic nerve that allows you to read this text are just electrons passing down the photon (light quanta) to the brain. X-ray images can be thought of a map of communities of atoms that are greedy for photons, an MRI is the same but rather for greedy protons.

Remembering that in order find that these particles exist in the first place required great feats of engineering (accelerators), the trickle down effect of technological developments leads to miniaturisation. Accelerators are now used in cutting edge cancer therapy that minimises radiation exposure. In addition, accelerators are used in ultra precise mass spectrometry that can measure trace elements (1 million atoms is tiny compared to a mole!) in soil.

Understanding the fundamentals of nature has changed the way I see the world. Not just literally, I take physics brain everywhere I go and apply the same vision to every experience I have.


You can view the slides below. To download, follow the link below to SlideShare for a download option.

The Fundamentals of Everything. [NYSF 2017] from Aqeel Akber

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