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GUTs and TOEs

Albert Einstein said that what he wanted to know was “God’s thoughts,” which is a metaphor for the ultimate and most basic rules of the universe. Once known, all other phenomena would then be a consequence of these simple rules. While modern science is far from that goal, we have some thoughts on how this inquiry might unfold. In this video, Fermilab’s Dr. Don Lincoln tells what we know about GUTs (grand unified theories) and TOEs (theories of everything).

The Standard Model

Fermilab scientist Don Lincoln describes the Standard Model of particle physics, covering both the particles that make up the subatomic realm and the forces that govern them.

The Strong Nuclear Force

Scientists are aware of four fundamental forces- gravity, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces. Most people have at least some familiarity with gravity and electromagnetism, but not the other two. How is it that scientists are so certain that two additional forces exist? In this video, Fermilab’s Dr. Don Lincoln explains why scientists are so certain that the strong force exists.

Quantum electrodynamics: theory

The Standard Model of particle physics is composed of several theories that are added together. The most precise component theory is the theory of quantum electrodynamics or QED. In this video, Fermilab’s Dr. Don Lincoln explains how theoretical QED calculations can be done. This video links to other videos, giving the viewer a deep understanding of the process.

The Weak Nuclear Force: Through the looking glass

Of all of the known subatomic forces, the weak force is in many ways unique. One particularly interesting facet is that the force differentiates between a particle that is rotating clockwise and counterclockwise. In this video, Fermilab’s Dr. Don Lincoln describes this unusual property and introduces some of the historical figures who played a role in working it all out.

Quantum Gravity

While there are many challenges facing modern particle physics, perhaps the ultimate one (and certainly among the most difficult) is to describe the nature of gravity in the quantum realm. Despite a century of effort, scientists have had only the most cursory of success. In this video, Fermilab’s Dr. Don Lincoln talks about the idea of quantum gravity and sketches out the need for this difficult advance.

Loop Quantum Gravity

The inability of scientists to create a theory of quantum gravity arises from long-standing tensions between general relativity and quantum mechanics. There have been few approaches with any success. In this video, Fermilab’s Dr. Don Lincoln explains one of the few promising ideas, called loop quantum gravity.

Higgs Boson 2016

The Higgs boson burst into the public arena on July 4, 2012, when scientists working at the CERN laboratory announced the particle’s discovery. However the initial discovery was a bit tentative, with the need to verify that the discovered particle was, indeed, the Higgs boson. In this video, Fermilab’s Dr. Don Lincoln looks at the data from the perspective of 2016 and shows that more recent analyses further supports the idea that the Higgs boson is what was discovered.

The Universe and Solar System

The Big Bang Theory

The Big Bang is the name of the most respected theory of the creation of the universe. Basically, the theory says that the universe was once smaller and denser and has been expending for eons. One common misconception is that the Big Bang theory says something about the instant that set the expansion into motion, however this isn’t true. In this video, Fermilab’s Dr. Don Lincoln tells about the Big Bang theory and sketches some speculative ideas about what caused the universe to come into existence.

Cosmic Inflation

In 1964, scientists discovered a faint radio hiss coming from the heavens and realized that the hiss wasn’t just noise. It was a message from eons ago; specifically the remnants of the primordial fireball, cooled to about 3 degrees above absolute zero. Subsequent research revealed that the radio hiss was the same in every direction. The temperature of the early universe was uniform to at better than a part in a hundred thousand. And this was weird. According to the prevailing theory, the two sides of the universe have never been in contact. So how could two places that had never been in contact be so similar? One possible explanation was proposed in 1979. Called inflation, the theory required that early in the history of the universe, the universe expanded faster than the speed of light. Confused? Watch this video as Fermilab’s Dr. Don Lincoln makes sense of this mind-bending idea.

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