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Parastatistics. Lunch with Bob Serber


Giving a course on general ideas about elementary particles
Murray Gell-Mann Scientist
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In the spring of ’63 I was giving a course at MIT on general ideas about elementary particles, and one thing I spoke about was whether the… the conjecture that the triplet of SU(3) in the Eightfold Way might actually be represented by some actual object. And I tried various schemes. I tried of course, three times three times three equals one plus eight plus eight plus ten. It was striking that all the known baryon resonances fitted into singlets, octets and decimets, and it strongly suggested that… that the baryon would be made of three fundamental triplets. But I saw that in that case the triplets would have fractional electric charge. And so I told the class, well, we probably better introduce four things so as to get away from that; a triplet and a singlet, and then we can get away from the fractional charges and we could actually have a fundamental triplet somewhere.

New York-born physicist Murray Gell-Mann (1929-2019) was known for his creation of the eightfold way, an ordering system for subatomic particles, comparable to the periodic table. His discovery of the omega-minus particle filled a gap in the system, brought the theory wide acceptance and led to Gell-Mann's winning the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1969.

Listeners: Geoffrey West

Geoffrey West is a Staff Member, Fellow, and Program Manager for High Energy Physics at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He is also a member of The Santa Fe Institute. He is a native of England and was educated at Cambridge University (B.A. 1961). He received his Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1966 followed by post-doctoral appointments at Cornell and Harvard Universities. He returned to Stanford as a faculty member in 1970. He left to build and lead the Theoretical High Energy Physics Group at Los Alamos. He has numerous scientific publications including the editing of three books. His primary interest has been in fundamental questions in Physics, especially those concerning the elementary particles and their interactions. His long-term fascination in general scaling phenomena grew out of his work on scaling in quantum chromodynamics and the unification of all forces of nature. In 1996 this evolved into the highly productive collaboration with James Brown and Brian Enquist on the origin of allometric scaling laws in biology and the development of realistic quantitative models that analyse the influence of size on the structural and functional design of organisms.

Tags: MIT

Duration: 1 minute, 17 seconds

Date story recorded: October 1997

Date story went live: 24 January 2008