Added, 11/3/06

By Brad Cox
Professor of Physics
University of Virginia
November 3, 2006 Issue of Inside UVA

My comments are added in red in italics. I have also made some key points bold.

Cox summarizes: The Standard Model of particle physics that has been developed over the last 60 years incorporates all known facts about the fundamental constituents of matter, the six quarks (whimsically named up, down, strange, charm, beauty and top) and the six leptons (the electron, muon, and tau leptons and their associated neutrinos) and their electromagnetic, weak, strong nuclear, and gravitational interactions with each other. The Standard Model has stood the test of time and no exceptions to it have been found other than the recent discovery that neutrinos have mass.

The Standard Model is based on a type of symmetry table. All of the particles that could fit into this table have been experimentally produced by high energy machines except for the massive Higgs boson, which is the subject of this article. The author hopes that the Higgs particle will appear in the forthcoming experiments at CERN in Switzerland. It should be emphasized that simply filling out a table, without knowing why it exists, is hardly proof of any theory!

However at a fundamental level, the Standard Model is incomplete. It contains no explanation for the pattern of masses of the quarks and leptons, which range from less than three electron volts to an electron volt for the neutrino masses, to 171 billion electron volts for the top quark. There is a question as to whether all of these particles are truly fundamental, or whether some are simply excited states of others, which accounts for the mass differences. For example, in an attempt to modernize and simplify the Standard Model, Stephan Gift [1,2] has proposed that the heavier muon and tau neutrinos are excited states of the electron neutrino. This calls into question some of the theories of neutrino oscillations, or magical transformation of one type of neutrino into another, that have been proposed to resolve the experimental "solar neutrino deficit."

In addition, the couplings (or charges) of the quarks and leptons to the photon, W and Z particles, gluons and gravitons that are the carriers of the electromagnetic, weak, strong and gravitational forces, respectively, are not predicted in the Standard Model. I have argued in another place that these physical exchanges do not make sense over any distance greater than nuclear size, and perhaps not even there. Heaston [3] points out that the weak force is not a force at all ,"I've never seen a formula for the weak force. As far as the literature seems to report, the weak force never appears as a force--always as an interaction. Perhaps it should be replaced with a quantum force." Heaston also says, "The problem is that Quantum Chromo Dynamics and the Standard Model seldom ever work with forces per se, only energies."

For example, while the charge of the electron can be measured very precisely, physicists have no idea why it has its value. Moreover the quarks and leptons seem to be point-like which leads to several paradoxes beyond the physics of the present day. Finally, while the Higgs particle is predicted to exist and is a key to the Standard Model (as yet undetected), its mass cannot be predicted within the Standard Model. There is obviously a deeper layer of physics, another layer of the onion to peel away to get at the fundamental nature of the world. An alternative is to consider replacing the Standard Model with a simpler one.

The experiments at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN propose first to detect the Higgs particle and measure its properties to make certain that the ideas underlying the Standard Model are correct. With this assured, the search for new particles will go on with special emphasis on detection of the supersymmetric partners of the quarks and leptons. If these new particles are detected, it is expected that they will give clues to the strange structure of the quarks and leptons and their interactions. But what if they are not detected? Heaston says, "Quarks have always been a mystery to me for three reasons: they cannot be isolated so that they cannot be observed directly; they come in fractional charges which have never been observed; and, they apply to hadrons and mesons and not to leptons. On the other hand quarks provide a beautiful tool to explain a large number of particle masses and their properties. Quarks have led to the predictions of a number of particles. I believe that quarks are a mathematical construct that matches some phenomena that should have a more rigorous construct that depends upon something else besides quarks".

Moreover, the dark matter of the universe (which is much greater than the luminous matter) will be composed of the lightest of these new particles. Here is an assertion that dark matter exists, and goes beyond that to state what it might be composed of!

Even more exotic discoveries may be within the reach of the LHC. In particular, the LHC experiments may be able to detect effects of new dimensions of nature beyond the familiar three of space and one of time. Also, it is possible that micro black holes may be generated in the very high energy interactions, leading to a chance to study these fundamental objects of gravitational physics in a laboratory setting. This is a reference to string theory, and even a suggestion that microscopic black holes might exist! What if both are wrong?


1) Stephan J. G. Gift, "Model of Fundamental Particles I: Quarks", Physics Essays, Volume 17, Number 1, pp. 3-13, 2004.

2) Stephan J. G. Gift, "Model of Fundamental Particles II: Leptons", Physics Essays, Volume 17, Number 2, pp. 117-132, 2004.

2) Robert J. Heaston, "Number Crunching the Large and the Small Magnitudes of Physics", Proceedings of the 13th Natural Philosophy Alliance International Conference, April 3 - 7, 2006, at OSU, Tulsa, OK, to be published.