Mar 4

Judy Hung's Comps Talk

Join Judy as she gives her comps talk on the beauty of physics.

Monday, March 4th, 2013
8:30 – 9:30 am / Olin 101

Beauty: A Motivation in Fundamental Physics
How Symmetry became a guide to modern physicists

Physics is fundamentally the study of nature. But precisely, how is that done? The conventional approach would be to begin with scientists gathering empirical data from experiments, then trying to formulate an explanation for the physical phenomenon in question. This resulted in “phenomenological laws”, such as Hooke’s Law. However, increasingly, physicists have been recognizing other factors that are can also contribute to their scientific inquiry. Specifically, aesthetics has become a more explicit consideration for physicists. Symmetry, in particular, is an important factor in this discussion of beauty. In my talk, I will begin by introducing the concept of symmetry in the context of physics. Then, following a historical narrative, we will look at how symmetry has grown in its involvement from the time of Newton to the twentieth century with Einstein and quantum mechanics, and finally to the current research in particle physics. The talk will end with a look at symmetry’s role in the Higgs mechanism, which has captured much attention in the media since CERN’s announcement of detecting a Higgs-like boson last July.

Sponsored by Physics and Astronomy. Contact: Trenne Fields, x4383