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The Sigma model


London and Paris. Partially conserved axial vector current
Murray Gell-Mann Scientist
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 ’59 in the fall, I went to Paris and spent the year in Paris from—well I was, first of all I was in the summer I was at Imperial College in London where everybody was interested in Yang-Mills theories, and Salam and Kumar were working on the project that I mentioned. Then around the end of October I moved to Paris where I was at the Collège de France–I was, I think, the first visiting professor in the history of the Collège de France. And then I… I also had a job at the university, initially the university job was actually… actually involved having an office at the École Normale which is not part of the university. But in the spring the campus at Orsée was established and my office, my university office was out there in Orsée. So I spent some time at the College and some time at Orsée. Maurice Lévy and I collaborated all during the year, and also Jeremy Bernstein came over from the US and he worked with me for a while. Fubini and Thirring both came by and we worked with them a little bit for a few days, and so there were papers signed with these various collaborators during the year. What we were working on, from our point of view, was very similar to what Nambu and collaborators were working on from their point of view, and Goldstone from his point of view. Namely: what happened if you had an axial vector charge that was nearly conserved but did not lead to degeneracies, to approximate degeneracies? It would instead lead to a nearly massless pseudo-scalar boson. And so we thought about that; we called it partially conserved axial vector current; we looked at it from many different points of view; pole dominance and so on and so forth. But from this…these various points of view that we investigated, it was the same idea, and in the limit of perfect conservation of the axial charge without producing degeneracy, it would produce an exactly zero mass boson. So it was the same really as the Nambu Goldstone boson.

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: Paris, Imperial College, London, Collège de France, École Normale, Orsée, Abdus Salam, Maurice Lévy, Jeremy Bernstein, Sergio Fubini, Walter Thirring, Yoichiro Nambu, Jeffrey Goldstone

Duration: 2 minutes, 32 seconds

Date story recorded: October 1997

Date story went live: 24 January 2008