Some reflections

28/11/2010

It is a lot of time that I am thinking about the scenario is emerging from our current understanding of reality through physics. There is a lot to be understood yet, mostly the very nature of space and time and a proof of the real number of dimensions our universe emerged from. Notwithstanding these noteworthy missing questions, we can make an idea of what is going on as the depth of our understanding is already quite sensible.

At the dawn of the last century, Albert Einstein put forward an important conclusion: mass and energy are the same thing. Indeed, what Einstein had in mind is a deeper understanding of the concept of mass that is for us an important concern. Where does mass come from? What is it made of? At the start of the last century these questions could not have a proper answer. But having reduced the mass to another concept, like energy, was of paramount importance.

On a similar ground it was relevant to understand the role of another, apparently not reducible, concept: Charge. Today we know that the number of charges, the couplings that make all change around us, will be at last reduced to a single number. Maybe. So far we only know for certain that, thanks to Steven Weinberg, Shelly Glashow and Abdus Salam, we have reduced the number of interacting fields. But strong coupling and gravitational constant are still there disconnected if we limit to our current experimental knowledge. Of course, theoretical physics has gone really far in this area and we hope that LHC will help us to give a way to cut out most of what was done here to get the real understanding of the way things work. Somebody will be happy others won’t but this how our World works.

Today, we have a better understanding of the concept of mass and, while waiting for LHC to confirm us our ideas, we can draw some conclusions about all these questions. The fact that mass is energy is an important clue of the idea that this concept is reducible to more fundamentals concepts and that a mechanism for its emergence must exist. Higgs mechanism goes in this direction as also our ideas emerging from QCD about the mass gap that confirm the idea that mass is not a fundamental concept by itself.

So, we can conclude that, so far, our ideas of the World reduce to two fundamental non-reducible ideas: Energy and charge. The former is just a safety lock with respect to the changes provoked by the latter. So, I leave you with a final question: If things stay in this way, does space-time entail a wider concept to embed them or we can reduce also this to them?


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