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Higgs 3: Symmetry for the strong

July 14th, 2012|Quantum physics|

When the Norwegian mathematician Sophus Lie died in 1899 he was a bitter and disappointed man. True, his mathematical ability had been recognised by some of the greatest people in the field, including the great German mathematician Felix Klein, and Lie had succeeded Klein in the chair of mathematics at Leipzig. But those who understood the true significance of

Higgs 4: Symmetry for the weak

July 12th, 2012|Quantum physics|

The weak interactions are really weak compared to the strong ones. Indeed they are really weak compared to electromagnetism – about 100 billion times weaker. Yet there are also some similarities with electromagnetism. As far back as 1941 Julian Schwinger had felt that these similarities were significant, and took a step forward in a paper of 1957. Schwinger is

Higgs 6: Can the circle be unbroken?

July 9th, 2012|Quantum physics|

Higgs 6: Can the circle be unbroken? In the 1960s the tide in physics flowed towards tackling the strong interactions, as those grappling with the weak interactions had come up against an apparently unshiftable block. The technique that seemed to be the most powerful one was the use of symmetry, and the use of Lie groups enabled a classification

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