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The Art of Particle Physics

ScuttleMonkey posted about 9 years ago | from the centerfold-material dept.

Science 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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It must just be me (4, Interesting)

geomon (78680) | about 9 years ago | (#13776792)

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.

Re:It must just be me (3, Funny)

Neil Blender (555885) | about 9 years ago | (#13776801)

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.

Re:It must just be me (0, Redundant)

geomon (78680) | about 9 years ago | (#13776823)

Wow! That didn't take long.

I wonder if they have ever experienced a slashdotting?

Re:It must just be me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13776855)

If a slashdotting were a color, what color would it be?

Re:It must just be me (4, Funny)

geomon (78680) | about 9 years ago | (#13776864)

I guess that depends on where you reside at the time of slashdotting: red shifted in anger as the server admin, or blue shifted as the sad slashreader who never got to see the original article.

Re:It must just be me (0, Redundant)

JohnnyBigodes (609498) | about 9 years ago | (#13776903)

Duh... The color of fire from a burning server, obviously :)

Re:It must just be me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13777214)

"If a slashdotting were a color, what color would it be?"

a soothing green light.

Re:It must just be me (1)

aklix (801048) | about 9 years ago | (#13777392)

I pictured it more like a jagged hard beam of light, my mind probably ties slashdotting to the Hairy Potter Avada Kadavra spell.

Re:It must just be me (5, Funny)

Tackhead (54550) | about 9 years ago | (#13776836)

> > 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 leaping to conclusions.

I also don't see a damn thing, but from that I can conclude only that Slashdot has placed a webserver in a superposition of states between lucky-and-destroyed, lucky-and-not-destroyed, unlucky-and-destroyed, and unlucky-and-not-destroyed.

Re:It must just be me (1)

drauh (524358) | about 9 years ago | (#13777499)

You just have to pick a diagonalizing basis, and all will become clear.

What the top quark looks like... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13776923)

it wears a leather jacket and says "Ayyyyyyyyyyyy! Sit on it, Potsie".

Re:It must just be me (1)

xCepheus (687775) | about 9 years ago | (#13776977)

You're right it must be you... because they all look strange to me.

Re:It must just be me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13777065)

Perhaps it will take someone like Dali or Escher to provides us with a view of the quantum world.

The default KDE icons have got pretty near, in my humble opinion. Somebody in kindergarten thinking quarks and equipped with crayons.



Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13777090)

How can the first post be considered redundant? No on else has had a chance to say anything yet.

Re:MOD PARENT UP (0, Offtopic)

geomon (78680) | about 9 years ago | (#13777195)

I think the comment refers to me, not the article. ;)

Re:It must just be me (3, Interesting)

starwed (735423) | about 9 years ago | (#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 (3, Interesting)

benhocking (724439) | about 9 years ago | (#13777290)

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 (1)

nicobn (884553) | about 9 years ago | (#13778022)

(1) Electron/Electronic neutrino/Up/Down, (2) Muon/Muonic neutrino/Charm/Strange and (3) Tau/Tauic neutrino/Bottom/Top have what we call a generation relationship because they appeared in reverse order. That is, generation 3 particles disinteger (grosso modo, particle physics is much more complicated than that) in generation 2 particles when the energy level is lowered by the expansion of the universe and generation 2 particles disinteger in generation 1 particles.

Re:Complements (2, Interesting)

sanx (696287) | about 9 years ago | (#13778492)

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, especially as humans have conceptual difficulty visualising, let alone representing, any other than the main four.

Re:It must just be me (3, Insightful)

hazem (472289) | about 9 years ago | (#13777524)

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!

Re:It must just be me (2)

geomon (78680) | about 9 years ago | (#13777691)

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. ;)

Re:It must just be me (1)

NeoSkandranon (515696) | about 9 years ago | (#13778376)

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

Website Mistake. (4, Informative)

pavon (30274) | about 9 years ago | (#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 :)

Re:Website Mistake. (2, Funny)

deglr6328 (150198) | about 9 years ago | (#13776881)

No matter, their server went down faster than desperate prom date and the google cache is only from the previous edition so we can't see it anyway. Just like the real thing! :)

Re:Website Mistake. (4, Funny)

B3ryllium (571199) | about 9 years ago | (#13777045)

Oh dear, it's the Heisenberg Slashdotting Principle.

Re:Website Mistake. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13777047)

Actually, the pdf isn't all correct either, they managed to mess up the URL of Mr. Hande's page [] , which has a lot more info than the article linked in the blurb.

Wow, that was fast (0, Redundant)

bcat24 (914105) | about 9 years ago | (#13776818)

The server is /.ed already?!

2 comments and already slashdotted (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13776820)

save your time, it's dead jim. PDF and html versions. Maybe two particales collided when everyone rushed to view the site.

Particles (1, Funny)

AlphaSector (676934) | about 9 years ago | (#13776837)

can apparently be slashdotted too

Odd (1)

fullofangst (724732) | about 9 years ago | (#13776839)

I can't see the URL from the headline, but the PDF works fine ...

link anyone?? (1)

B3AST! (916930) | about 9 years ago | (#13776841)

i can't find a cached version of this anywhere....mirrordot didnt catch it, network mirror didn't catch it, and it's not old enough for google cache it seems

anybody? copy and paste for us maybe for those who got there?

I didn't read it (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13776845)

Math sucks!

An absolutely PERFECT representation (5, Funny)

LithiumX (717017) | about 9 years ago | (#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.

Re:An absolutely PERFECT representation (1)

azav (469988) | about 9 years ago | (#13776890)

No love. The PDF is down too.

This site went down so fast it didn't even make it to Mirrordot.

Time to upgrade the modem.

Re:An absolutely PERFECT representation (1, Informative)

Rei (128717) | about 9 years ago | (#13776917)

This reminds me of the article on Nihilism [] ? It's almost as good as the article on Surrealism [] .

Late for the party (1, Troll)

kafka47 (801886) | about 9 years ago | (#13776880)

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 [] .

It tried the visualizations at symmetry magazine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13776882)

But the infinities must have cancelled out because I got nothing.

Top-Less Quark! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13776900)

It is the closest most will ever get to 'seeing' a top quark.

What about seeing a "top-less" quark?

Re:Top-Less Quark! (3, Funny)

direwulf (917316) | about 9 years ago | (#13776928)

Armin Shimmerman without a shirt on...sounds like the beginning to a twisted holosuite program left on the DS9 cutting room floor.

Re:Top-Less Quark! (1)

Conspiracy_Of_Doves (236787) | about 9 years ago | (#13777003)

Armin Shimmerman without a ...

Oh god! The vision! THE VISION! Get it out! Get it out of my head! AHHHRRGGHH!

They didn't leave it on the cutting room floor (1)

benhocking (724439) | about 9 years ago | (#13777880)

They put it into Meridian [] . It's at the very end of the episode. Quark was trying to get Kira's holo-image for use in a "sexy" holodeck program. Kira figured out what was going on and sabotaged the program to replace her face with Quark's.

Topping a seedy Quark! (1)

Ken Broadfoot (3675) | about 9 years ago | (#13777338)

"It is the closest most will ever get to 'seeing' a top quark."

Better than topping a seedy quark...

could be better? (2, Interesting)

lawpoop (604919) | about 9 years ago | (#13776918)

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 ;)

Re:could be better? (1)

nherm (889807) | about 9 years ago | (#13777280)

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!! :)

I've seen these images somewhere before.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13777340)

Aww, man! Wiki's hotlinking my Pr0n collection again!

Re:could be better? (1)

ChocoBean (890202) | about 9 years ago | (#13777398)

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?

Re:could be better? (1)

symbolic (11752) | about 9 years ago | (#13777488)

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.

Re:could be better? (1)

wickedsteve (729684) | about 9 years ago | (#13777715)

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.

Re:could be better? (1)

iamlucky13 (795185) | about 9 years ago | (#13777985)

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.

Might be some pretty pictures, but... (3, Interesting)

Jason1729 (561790) | about 9 years ago | (#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.

Re:Might be some pretty pictures, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13777279)

A wave would look like..... a wave, TADA.
The emphesis on the word seeing was ofcause placed there intentionally to ward of the obvius statement witch you luckely discovered and desided to share with averyone. A hand of applauds please.
We can represent a lot of things visualy, even if it's not an intuiative visualisation. What does a wave look like? Well some waves look like a wave would in water, some waves look like this: sin(omega*t+phi), It's about a cuple of thousand years ago that art moved from trying to chart down the exact expresion light left in their retina to creating expresssions. And science ofcause started out being about expressing more then was planely visible. WHY OH WHY DO YOU HAVE A PROBMEN WITH THIS!?!?!?

Re:Might be some pretty pictures, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13777287)

It is a fictional piece of art.

More accurately, it's an attempt to apply the properties of something to an unrelated substrate (ink and canvas). Much like your own "wave in water" example.

So is at least 20% of every science class (1)

Lifewish (724999) | about 9 years ago | (#13777403)

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.

Re:So is at least 20% of every science class (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13779659)

Well, I mean, bull according to who?
I can see set theory being completely useless to an engineer, but for mathematicians it's literally where almost everything happens. Sets are to math as the universe is to an applied scientist.
And even then, theoretical physics or some of the advanced applied physics is going to involve differential geometry and linear algebra, all of which are rooted in set theory.
This artwork and half the content in high school science courses, at least in America, are bull because they misinform you about the universe, or give you a picture that you shouldn't have. As far as college goes, stuff that you learn might not be applicable, but I wouldn't say it's bull, unless you have some poor faculty.

I may be in a devil's-advocate mood today, but... (4, Informative)

jkauzlar (596349) | about 9 years ago | (#13778379)

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.

Re:Might be some pretty pictures, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13778719)

Current theory is they're harmonic vibrations in the substructure of the universe.

Right, and they can be represented by doing a hyper-quadric projection on a 6-dimensional space, using a tachyon generator powered by dilithium crystals.

Gotta love current theories.

Let's see... (4, Funny)

Richy_T (111409) | about 9 years ago | (#13776937)

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.


Re:Let's see... (5, Funny)

neocrono (619254) | about 9 years ago | (#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?)

Re:Let's see... (1)

iamlucky13 (795185) | about 9 years ago | (#13778010)

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.

Re:Let's see... (1)

linzeal (197905) | about 9 years ago | (#13777520)

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.

Re:Let's see... (1)

noisyfont (919296) | about 9 years ago | (#13778721)

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 supposed that if you have a long calculation to do it might end up looking much nicer and you won't get sore eyes. Then again, I don't know that much about particle physics, so maybe his "notation" is more intuitive after all.

Re:Let's see... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13778760)

The value I see here is in generating animated representations of our theories. You're totally right, it is 'mere' notation (insert totally geek example of the revelatory power of good notation here).

Antimatter (3, Interesting)

Tumbarumba (74816) | about 9 years ago | (#13776939)

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 (2, Interesting)

KanadaKid19 (886639) | about 9 years ago | (#13778862)

Looks like you gathered some inspiration from [http] , am I correct?

Cache (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13776965)

The Coral cache [] version worked for me.

Schroedinger's Sever (4, Funny)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | about 9 years ago | (#13777006)

Someone opened the box. It's dead.

Re:Schroedinger's Sever (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13777033)

Someone opened the box. It's dead


Quark! (4, Informative)

Misanthrope (49269) | about 9 years ago | (#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.

Re:Quark! (1)

sanx (696287) | about 9 years ago | (#13778552)

But, according to Bill Bryson's [] A Short History of Nearly Everything [] , most 'hip' physicists pronounce Quark as rhyming with Stork.

And now you know...

why visual? why not auditory, smell, touch, etc.? (1)

G4from128k (686170) | about 9 years ago | (#13777019)

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.

Re:why visual? why not auditory, smell, touch, etc (2, Funny)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | about 9 years ago | (#13777140)

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

Based on the universal poultry constant, the answer is intuitively Chicken.

Re:why visual? why not auditory, smell, touch, etc (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13777316)

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.

Re:why visual? why not auditory, smell, touch, etc (1)

Chops II (908495) | about 9 years ago | (#13779663)

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 viabrating or something, but its not like when u hit it it dings, let alone the ding being large enough for air particles to create a wave form long enough to reach ur ear, let alone hear it. Looks, well, photons are too big for images of quarks, unless somehow something to do with DeBroglie wavelengths allows them to be small enough for enough of them to be deflected by a quarck so that a detailed image can be obtained. Anyway, i think, a parallel to these artists impressions would be the infr-red or heat goggles and the colours they display for each heat. They arent really the colours of heat or wed be seeing funny colours everywhere. In fact i dont believe heat is EM as light is, i believe that things that are in our general environment happen to emit EMR in the Infra-red range. Anyways, my point (sorry im not real good with the whole sticking to the subject thing) with the whole IR thing is that the colours are fake, to give information of its frequency, as in hot stuff is blue because hotter stuff emits higher frequency radiation, and the high end of the visible light spectrum is blue. Same for red, low heat emits low frequency, which corresponds to red light. Actually my point is its fake, and just gives some details via pictures, even though it is impossible to get pictures of them. Anyone wanna explain this better feel free, no, feel paid. Except not paid. Just feel paid. Because what would i know, im only a 16 yr old finisheing high school. I would like to know more.

Mirrordot to the rescue... (2, Informative)

TigerNut (718742) | about 9 years ago | (#13777034)

They have it: Mirrordot front page [] . You do have to get the PDF to see the corrected picture...

Was expecting more... (1)

sarlos (903082) | about 9 years ago | (#13777042)

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...

Re:Was expecting more... (1)

CypherXero (798440) | about 9 years ago | (#13778303)

Were you expecting everything to be lit with a Global GI, with HDRI and Caustics? I'm sorry, but I'm sure these researchers don't care about that, they care about getting a decent scientific image out there.

The Supersymmetric Up Quark (1)

pymike (918985) | about 9 years ago | (#13777056)

Does anyone else see a debian logo if you mirror that thing?

YUO fAIL IT (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13777070)

Updated URL (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13777322)

Blame Canada! []

Have to say it... (3, Funny)

loose_cannon_gamer (857933) | about 9 years ago | (#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"? (2, Funny)

John Hasler (414242) | about 9 years ago | (#13777082)

> 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"? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13777611)

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.

Working for Me (2, Insightful)

Bellum Aeternus (891584) | about 9 years ago | (#13777160)

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 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13777614)

I am not a physicist either, but I think that what you are thinking of could be these: String theory []

Re:Working for Me (2, Interesting)

Suicyco (88284) | about 9 years ago | (#13777711)

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 experimentation. That experimentation leads us to theories which adequately explain what it was that we saw in our experiment.

Even if we somehow created something "smaller" (these words are not really useful here) its not really a thing at all, of any size. Its a reaction, a vibration, something more along those lines.

Symmetry (2, Funny)

JeiFuRi (888436) | about 9 years ago | (#13777276)

So if its symmetry magazine, does that mean that it prints twice as much pages as it normally would?

W Boson Charge? (1)

erichill (583191) | about 9 years ago | (#13777498)

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.

Which CMS are they running? (1)

RobiOne (226066) | about 9 years ago | (#13777925)

Does anyone know which CMS they're running? It's not advertized anywhere.

Re:Which CMS are they running? (1)

RobiOne (226066) | about 9 years ago | (#13778465)

n/m, it's Xeno CMS 2.1, and no it's not free OSS. for details.

Photons... (2, Funny)

Johnno74 (252399) | about 9 years ago | (#13778019)

Ahhh so THATS what a photon looks like. I hadn't seen one before.

Re:Photons... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13778540)

Better say that louder, I don't think any mods got it.

Attractive, but misleading, representations (4, Informative)

xPsi (851544) | about 9 years ago | (#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

Re:Attractive, but misleading, representations (5, Interesting)

theonewho (686963) | about 9 years ago | (#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!)

Nobody will ever need more than 6 types of quarks. (2, Insightful)

Ythan (525808) | about 9 years ago | (#13778634)

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?

Just when I thought I was resonably smart....... (1)

Rank_Tyro (721935) | about 9 years ago | (#13778747)

.....Someone puts something on /. that is TOTALLY incomprehensible. Thank you for bringing me back down to earth. "Uhhhhh.........the pictures sure are purty"

Particle Drawings in 2004 & 1878 (2, Interesting)

CarlGM (922485) | about 9 years ago | (#13778974)

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 Birren removed all of the good stuff as a simple reading of the contents of the original edition will reveal. The contents seem to describe the wave/particle duality in a directly perceived way. Have a look and see for yourself.

Andersen seemed unaware of all this when I spoke to him a year or so ago at one of his lectures at the University of Michigan. Michigan does not have a copy of Babbitt's book, but Harvard does.

Slightly off-topic... (2, Interesting)

agentkhaki (92172) | about 9 years ago | (#13779050)

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 [] .

Just Beautiful (1)

blueZhift (652272) | about 9 years ago | (#13779104)

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 (2, Informative)

Doc Ruby (173196) | about 9 years ago | (#13779465)

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.
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