Nobel gathering at CERN

Today and tomorrow, CERN is hosting a gathering of Nobel laureates in the particle physics field who are largely responsible for its development during the last 50 years. The program is available online, and i’m told that video streaming for the talks will be available from the same page later. In the meantime, some of the presentations are already available, including a retrospective on unification by Sheldon Lee Glashow:

Other questions cannot so “easily” be answered: What is the origin of neutrino mass? Why is the cosmological constant so tiny? But my own most vexing problem is that of flavor: At least 20 parameters are needed to describe the various masses and mixings of quarks and leptons. Most of these have been measured, but no plausible theoretical relation among them has ever been found. Are we likely to find such relations in the future? Or are these 20 numbers simply accidents of birth of the universe, just as the radii of planetary orbits are accidents of birth of the solar system. Some of my string-bound colleagues advocate just such a gloomy philosophy. For them I would pose one last question: How can we ever learn whether uperstrings are the correct approach to fundamental physics?

Read the whole article here (PDF).


One Response to “Nobel gathering at CERN”

  1. Frank Brunner Says:

    I’ve never felt that constants being accidents of hte universe’s birth is a “gloomy” state of affairs. As Glashow says, our solar system was formed that way. Along with many other things, I might add. I suppose, though, that I would like to know _how_ the values of the constants were determined. Still, I don’t have a burning need to know _why_; accidents happen.

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