As I wrote about here, my blog ‘Scattering Amplitudes’ mainly follows my work and studies as a theoretical particle physics student. Its purpose is to serve a mixture of formal and informal articles and posts on a range of topics within the area of particle physics. Occasionally I may also share notes or write about recent events or discoveries. Simply put, it is a space for all things particle physics!
There is a reason why I titled this blog ‘Scattering Amplitudes’, and I hope to write about it in the near future. Meanwhile, I thought it would be nice to commemorate the launch of my new particle physics blog by sharing a little story about when I first studied The Standard Model.
Every physicist seems to have a story or two about some of the earliest moments that captured for them what would eventually become an undying passion for physics. Sometimes these moments arrive when one is a youth, other times people don’t discover their interest in physics or math or science until they’re young adults or perhaps even later. For me, one such moment of unrelenting excitement and intrigue came around the time when I first learned about the Standard Model and started exploring the world of subatomic particles. It kept me awake the entire night.
That we can say, at this current time, that there are twelve known particles of matter, is, in itself, remarkable. That we can expand on this to say, with great confidence, that these twelve known particles can be organised in three generations, and that particular particles, called gauge bosons – known, with good reason, as force carriers – carry any of the fundamental interactions, or forces, of nature, is an even more incredible achievement. The physics, here, is so elegant and beautiful, I cannot wait to write more about it.
But what in particular first seized hold of my young thoughts, on that eventful day that quickly turned into a twenty-four hour blur, was when, relative to the Standard Model, I began to explore the following question: how do all of these particles relate, or interact, with one another? How or where do the four fundamental forces enter the picture? What about particle collisions and quantum mechanics? This led to my entry into the basic ideas of Quantum Field Theory and where I also began exploring things like Feynman diagrams, firstly working through the forces mediated by gauge bosons. I had already some knowledge of the existence of Feynman diagrams, and I had a vague idea of how they related to the study of particle interactions. Indeed, I already had a vague picture in mind about particle physics and even the quantum world. I had read about all of these things, and I had observed references to them in various physics texts. But it was when I first worked through them, studied their detail, expanded my knowledge of Quantum Field Theory, and drew the graphical representations myself in ink on my very own notepad, whilst thinking deeply about this amazing world of particle interactions and the remarkable human achievement that is the Standard Model – this was the cumulative moment wherein I discovered a deeper enthusiasm for theoretical particle physics. I can say that I have been engrossed in particle physics ever since.
Today, I am working toward my post-graduate degree in theoretical particle physics, as I march down the long road toward a PhD. I share the brief story above, beginning with early examinations of the Standard Model and then moving to early explorations of Feynman rules and particle interactions, as it ultimately relates to the title of my blog: Scattering Amplitudes.
As we will talk about in future posts, the world of particle physics never ceases to astound: whether we’re taking the path integral, calculating the probability for a specific scattering, or searching for new particles and ultimately a new physics. It is from the basics of the Standard Model to Feynman rules and scattering amplitudes – which we might describe in an introductory way as as “a probability amplitude” for the outgoing wave relative to an incoming wave as it relates to the physical process of particle scattering – that I hope to build this blog. From there, my hope is that each subsequent entry will stimulate the same excitement and interest for others as I experience each day of my studies, encouraging any and every reader in the pursuit of knowledge and understanding.
To that end, my other hope for this blog is that it encourages any prospective reader to overcome whatever fear they may have (or not) in relation to the mathematics at work. Indeed, I hope to convey how the maths behind the physics – such as some of the integrals we will discuss or things like the wave function – is both beautiful and rewarding.
So, to conclude: here’s to the elementary particles and their interactions that are the basis of all matter. And here’s to the mathematics that governs all elementary particles.