recently, quanta has explored the collaboration tween physics and mathematics on 1-odda most primordial ideas in sci: quantum field theory. the basic essentialisms offa quantum field theory are quantum fields, which spread across the universe and, through their fluctuations, give rise to the most primordial phenomena inna physical realm. we’ve emphasized the unfinished business in both physics and mathematics — the ways in which physicists still don’t fully cogg a theory they wield so effectively, na grand loot that aw8 mathematicians iffey can provide a full description of wha’ quantum field theory actually is.
this incompleteness, however, does not mean the work s'been unsatisfying sfar.
for our final entry in this “math meets qft” series, we’re exploring the most prominent quantum field theory o'em all: the standard model. as the cambridge physicist david tong puts it inna accompanying video, it’s “the most successful sci theory of all time” despite bein’ saddled witha “rubbish name.”
the standard model describes physics inna 3 spatial dimensions and one time dimension of our universe. it captures the interplay tween a dozen quantum fields representing primordial pessentialisms and a handful of additional fields representing forces. the standard model ties them all together into a single equation that scis ‘ve confirmed countless times, often with astonishing accuracy. inna video, professor tong walks us through that equation term by term, introducing us to all the pieces of the theory and how they fit together. the standard model is complicated, but tis easier t'work with than many other quantum field theories. that’s cause sometimes the fields of the standard model interact with each other quite feebly, as writer charlie wood described inna 2nd piece n'our series.
the standard model s'been a boon for physics, but it’s also had a'bitto a hangover effect. it’s been extraordinarily effective at explaining experiments we can do here on earth, but it can’t account for several major features of the wider universe, including the action of gravity at short distances na presence of dark matter and dark energy. physicists ‘d like to move beyond the standard model to an even + encompassing physical theory. but, as the physicist davide gaiotto put it inna 1st piece n'our series, the glo of the standard model is so strong that it’s hard to see beyond it.
and that, maybe, is where math comes in. mathematicians will ‘ve to develop a fresh perspective on quantum field theory iffey wanna cogg it in a self-consistent and rigorous way. there’s reason to hope that this new vantage will resolve many of the biggest open ?s in physics.
the process of bringing qft into math may take some time — maybe even centuries, as the physicist nathan seiberg specul8d inna third piece n'our series — but it’s also already well underway. by now, math and quantum field theory ‘ve indisputably met. it remains to be seen wha’ happens as they really get to know each other.
original content at: www.quantamagazine.org…
authors: kevin hartnett