What Is a Particle?

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What Is a Particle?

Natalie Wachover


Quote:With any other object, the object’s properties depend on its physical makeup — ultimately, its constituent particles. But those particles’ properties derive not from constituents of their own but from mathematical patterns. As points of contact between mathematics and reality, particles straddle both worlds with an uncertain footing.

When I recently asked a dozen particle physicists what a particle is, they gave remarkably diverse descriptions. They emphasized that their answers don’t conflict so much as capture different facets of the truth. They also described two major research thrusts in fundamental physics today that are pursuing a more satisfying, all-encompassing picture of particles.

“‘What is a particle?’ indeed is a very interesting question,” said Wen. “Nowadays there is progress in this direction. I should not say there’s a unified point of view, but there’s several different points of view, and all look interesting.”
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


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  • Brian
I suppose the general QM explanation would be something like "a particle is that to which we ascribe the properties of a particle"  Doesn't say much but it's honest.
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(2020-11-19, 03:42 PM)Brian Wrote: I suppose the general QM explanation would be something like "a particle is that to which we ascribe the properties of a particle"  Doesn't say much but it's honest.

The physicist Lee Smolin said something similar:

We don't know what a rock really is, or an atom, or an electron. We can only observe how they interact with other things and thereby describe their relational properties.

Perhaps everything has external and internal aspects. The external properties are those that science can capture and describe - through interactions, in terms of relationships. The internal aspect is the intrinsic essence, it is the reality that is not expressible in the language of interactions and relations.

-L. Smolin, Time Reborn
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


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  • Brian
The use of the word particle makes me think the general public imagines these things as kinda little ball bearings.

Out of all the many qm physics books I've read, there was only one iirc, that actually spoke to what it called the 'gray area' between the subatomic micro ghost world of what is purely mathematical abstractions/probability and that of the macroworld of physical objects.

There was actually a name given to that gray area but i'll be damned if I can't remember it, the name of book or its author, heh
(This post was last modified: 2020-11-27, 07:01 PM by iPsoFacTo.)
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