Here are some of the interesting facts I learned from this book:
-The prefix 'zepto' is derived from the Latin 'septem' and the 's' was changed to a 'z' in order to avoid duplication of symbols, since the 'second' already uses 's' as an abbreviation. 'Zepto' is a relatively new prefix, as it was invented in 1991. A zeptometer is one billionth of a billionth of a millimeter. Or, it is one million times smaller than the diameter of a proton. We actually have the ability to probe this fantastically small space.
-Leibniz (a contemporary of Isaac Newton) called atoms 'monads'. Philip K. Dick sometimes used the word 'monad' in his novels. Now I know where it came from.
-Cathode rays were originally thought to be electromagnetic radiation, but photons do not have charge.
-The atom was first split in 1897 by J.J. Thomson, since a fragment (the electron) was observed. Electrons (not photons) were determined to be cathode rays.
-The ratio between the size of the solar system (out to Neptune) and the diameter of the Sun is 6,000:1. The ratio between the size of an atom and its nucleus is 20,000:1. Thus, there is more empty space (relatively speaking) inside atoms than inside our solar system.
-Leo Szilard first thought of liberating atomic energy, due to the fact that neutrons don't ionize matter.
-The weak nuclear force transforms particles, while the electromagnetic force does not transform them.
-Subatomic particles are nothing but localizations of quantum field energy. An electron is not really a particle, but a lump of energy in a quantum field.
-The slow disintegration of some hadrons led to the property of strangeness. Strangeness is a property of particles, like charge or mass. It refers to unusually slow decays.
-The W bosons mediate the 'charged current' weak interaction, in which neutrinos transform into electrons. The Z boson mediates the 'neutral current' weak interaction, in which neutrinos retain their identities.
-The discovery of neutral currents provided evidence for electroweak unification.
-Less than 1% of particle accelerators are used for science research. The majority are used in hospitals.
-X-rays lose most of their energy close to the skin surface, causing more damage to healthy cells than hadron-based treatments. (This makes sense. X-rays do not have mass, but hadrons do.)
-A bent proton beam emits ten thousand billion times less radiation than an electron beam.
-It takes 20 minutes for a proton beam to reach 7 TeV.
-A proton beam consists of 2,808 bunches of 100 billion protons per bunch. Each bunch is separated by 10 meters. 100 billion protons weighs about a ten-trillionth of a gram.
-The full power of the beam can melt a 1,000 pound block of solid copper.
-Two main detectors are called ATLAS and CMS. Each consists of 4 structures: 1. trackers 2. electromagnetic calorimeters 3. hadron calorimeters 4. muon chambers
-One million gigabytes of data are generated every second.
-Soft events are when the quarks and gluons inside a proton do not collide with those inside another proton.
-Hard events are when quarks or gluons have direct head-on hits.
-The GRID was invented to handle the enormous amount of data, which is a vast network of processing power.
-Symmetry in the subatomic world refers to invariance under a transformation of particles. For example, the strong force is symmetric, since it does not distinguish between protons and neutrons.
-The configuration inside a superconductor spontaneously breaks the gauge symmetry associated with electromagnetism, giving mass to the photon. Photons are impeded in their motion and they can propagate the electromagnetic force only within a short range, behaving like massive force carriers.
-The Higgs mechanism contributes less than a kilogram of mass to the average person.
-The Higgs substance becomes much less dense at temperatures exceeding one quadrillion degrees.
-Nature saves energy by filling space with the Higgs substance, rather than leaving it empty.
-Present understanding of matter and forces is based on 3 elements: 1. general relativity (gravity) 2. Yang-Mills gauge theory (strong, weak, composition of matter) 3. Higgs sector (spontaneous breaking of electroweak symmetry)
-The masses of quarks accounts for 1% of proton and neutron masses.
-98% of the mass of hadrons comes from the motion of quarks and gluons (binding force of QCD)
-Electromagnetic effects account for the other 1%.
-Higgs mechanism generates the quark masses, but not the QCD effect
-Higgs mechanism accounts for 1% of the mass of ordinary matter, or 0.2% of the mass of the universe.
-Electromagnetic waves are purely transverse, because the electric and magnetic fields oscillate only in directions perpendicular to the direction of motion.
-Samuel Goudsmit and George Uhlenbeck invented the concept of particle spin in 1925.
-The rate of particle spin never changes, like electric charge.
-The 3 coupling constants become nearly equal at 10^-32 meters, which is beyond what can be explored at the LHC. It would be like using regular binoculars to spot molecules on the surface of the moon.
-Gravitational red shift is not the same as Doppler red shift. Gravitational red shift refers to the increase in wavelength of light as it loses energy during its escape from a star.
-On the scale of the universe, 3000 billion complete LHC programs are occurring every second.
-INFLATION: In 10^-35 seconds, the universe expanded by a factor of 10^30, which is equivalent to a 20 nanometer virus expanding into a creature with a diameter of 2.2 million light years in the time it takes light to cross a few millionths of a zeptometer. (How awesome is that?)
-Our technology can peer no further back than 380,000 years after inflation, due to the background temperature exceeding 2700 degrees Celsius, which is like a brick wall to electromagnetic radiation. Thus, the early universe is 'opaque' to our current telescopes.
-Experiments must be sensitive to 10^-19 watts in order to detect dark matter.
-The 72% estimate for dark energy comes from observations of supernovae and data from the cosmic microwave background.
-Due to the expansion of space, nothing beyond the solar system will be visible 500 billion years from now. (Like it will matter.)
Funny quotes the author provided:
"Communication is established between humans here on earth and extraterrestrials living in a galaxy made of antimatter. It is found that in that anti-world they have anti-science, anti-mathematics, and anti-physics. Earthbound physicists get a description of an anti-physics anti-laboratory, and lo and behold, they find it is filled with anti-Semites."
"If my theory of relativity is proven successful, Germany will claim me as a German and France will declare that I am a citizen of the world. Should my theory prove untrue, France will say that I am a German and Germany will declare that I am a Jew."
"Mathematics may be defined as the subject in which we never know what we are talking about, nor whether what we are saying is true."
"There is no law except the law that there is no law."
The second book I recently finished is titled GATHER YOURSELVES TOGETHER. It was written sometime between 1949-1951 by Philip K. Dick and is his first novel. It was not published until 1994, a full 12 years after his death.
This is not a science fiction novel, but one of his realistic novels which focuses on a small group of people. Usually, they are miserable, just like real people. In this novel, 3 American workers are left behind after a company in China has gone bankrupt. Two of them are connected in an unusual way, while the third is supposed to be PKD himself. This is a haunting novel and very well written, considering he was younger than 25 when he wrote it. There are certain things I will never forget, especially the dialogue between the Chinese scout and the Americans.