Archive for Particle Physics

The beginning of a new career ?

Posted in G 0 with tags , , , on March 4, 2008 by Roberto Gravitazero

Well, I couldn’t really resist a new post on the Carlucci Error affair.

I would not have done it, but Glashow himself apparently has taken up, as a sort of personal mission, the difficult task of teaching particle physics to On. Sra. Carlucci. However, since I am not writing on “Libero”, I give you a warning: While I’m writing this I am still unable to tell you for sure whether the following letter is apocryphal or not. But is very well written and makes a lot of sense. Therefore I deem it worth publishing, with the additional advantage that it can indeed teach something to our dear friend:

From: Shelly Glashow
Date: 03 March, 2008 17:51:28 GMT+01:00
To: Gabriella Carlucci
Subject: Re: Fw: lettera ingl.doc

Dear Sra. Carlucci:

Thank you for your letter of inquiry about the paper published in Nuovo
Cimento by Altarelli et al. just after the Ting-Richter discovery.
As you are perhaps aware, the authors’ speculation — that the then newly
discovered boson might be the neutral weak intermediary — is
false. This is nothing for them to be ashamed of,
It is the business of theorists to speculate, and we often find that our
speculations are wrong. I have published more than a few papers that have
turned out to have been wrong. So have most of my colleagues. That’s the
name of the game!

The Altarelli et al. paper is just one of many published but false
interpretations of the J/Psi particle. For your information, I append below
the titles of eight papers from the first 1975 issue of Physical Review
Letters. All these works seek to explain the new particle.
Two are correct, one is ambiguous, and five are dead wrong. The false
papers include two by Nobel Laureates (Schwinger
and Yang) and one by a winner of the Wolf Prize and the National Medal of
Science (M. Goldhaber). Altarelli et. al are in excellent company.

Scientists publish speculative results not because they are true, but
because they may be true, If they refrained from publishing their
speculations for fear that they may not always be true, there would be
little progress in science. Even our greatest heroes, Galileo, Newton and
Einstein, have published speculations that turned out to be quite false. I
can supply citations, should you wish to question their scientific

Sheldon Lee Glashow

1. Are the New Particles Baryon-Antibaryon Nuclei?
Alfred S. Goldhaber and Maurice Goldhaber
pp. 36-37 [View Page Images , PDF (300 kB), or Buy this Article (Use
Article Pack) ]

2. Interpretation of a Narrow Resonance in e+e- Annihilation
Julian Schwinger
pp. 37-38 [View Page Images , PDF (297 kB), or Buy this Article (Use
Article Pack) ]

3. Possible Explanation of the New Resonance in e+e- Annihilation
S. Borchardt, V. S. Mathur, and S. Okubo
pp. 38-40 [View Page Images , PDF (483 kB), or Buy this Article (Use
Article Pack) ]

4. Model with Three Charmed Quarks
R. Michael Barnett
pp. 41-43 [View Page Images , PDF (530 kB), or Buy this Article (Use
Article Pack) ]

5. Heavy Quarks and e+e- Annihilation
Thomas Appelquist and H. David Politzer
pp. 43-45 [View Page Images , PDF (513 kB), or Buy this Article (Use
Article Pack) ]

6. Is Bound Charm Found?
A. De Rújula and S. L. Glashow
pp. 46-49 [View Page Images , PDF (653 kB), or Buy this Article (Use
Article Pack) ]

7. Possible Interactions of the J Particle
H. T. Nieh, Tai Tsun Wu, and Chen Ning Yang
pp. 49-52 [View Page Images , PDF (641 kB), or Buy this Article (Use
Article Pack) ]

8. Remarks on the New Resonances at 3.1 and 3.7 GeV
C. G. Callan, R. L. Kingsley, S. B. Treiman, F. Wilczek, and A. Zee
pp. 52-56 [View Page Images , PDF (906 kB), or Buy this Article (Use
Article Pack) ]


On. Sra. Carlucci is indeed a lucky lass. Not every physics student can have a teacher of the level of Prof. Glashow. What more can I say? Perhaps I can give a small contribution to her education. Since I cannot obviously compete with such a tutor, I’ll try a different, more gradual pedagogical approach. As a starting point for her new career, I include below a simple list of fundamental particles, in a form that I hope could appeal to our student. By clicking on it, she can access a more readable version, with a lot of useful, easy-to-remember information on the particles pictured. And, should she wish to purchase a soft, cuddly version of one of them, as a reminder of her first fruitful foray in the field of fundamental physics, she can find more informations here.


UPDATE March 6th:

Glashow apparently confirmed, to Progetto Galileo, his paternity of the letter reported here.

On. Sra. Carlucci posted again on her blog – exactly the same stuff, only this times she writes a longer post. Since the density of errors and misunderstandings per word is kept constant (and alarmingly close to one), their total number is larger. No other major change in her arguments, apart from the occasional insult. It is followed by a couple of interesting and sensible comments by Parisi, though. While reading the second one I had the impression he is getting a bit fed up with all this.

I am also tired. I think I’ll give up with my educational effort, after all. Please, forget about particle physics, dear On. Sra. Carlucci, and possibly about science altogether. Too many boring people in the field, so attached to old fashioned values like scientific proof, and simple truth. I wish you would also desert the more profitable field of politics, but I fear once again you would not listen to a good advice.