Sunday, September 12, 2010

A talk about Quantum Physics

Just recently, I was giving a lecture on quantum physics which covers Fundamental Forces of the Universe and Standard Model of Particle Physics to my fellow Filipino astronomers at the Manila Planetarium. While Dr. Armand Lee is not around representing the Philippines in the International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics in Beijing, I was commissioned to be on deck to do the talk. Speaking of Filipino contingents, another Filipino astronomer, my professor, Chris Go is also representing the Philippines in the European Planetary Science Congress in Rome.

As the 21st century begins, physicists have developed a commanding knowledge of the particles and forces that characterize the ordinary matter around us. Simultaneously, astrophysical and cosmological space observations have revealed that this glimpse of the universe is incomplete— that 95 percent of the cosmos is not made of ordinary matter, but of a mysterious and enigmatic something else: “dark matter” and “dark energy”. We have learned that in fact we do not know what most of the universe is made of.

Understanding this unknown “new” universe requires the discovery of the particle physics that determines its fundamental nature. Powerful tools exist to bring the physics within reach. With astrophysical observations, we can explore the parameters of the universe; with accelerator experiments we can search for their quantum explanation. Energies at particle accelerators now approach the conditions in the first instants after the big bang, giving us the means to discover what dark matter and dark energy are—and creating a revolution in our understanding of particle physics and the universe.

I'd like to note two of the thrown questions and my answer:

Q: So what then is the fundamental particle that makes up a matter.

A: With the current discrete particle science and its available technology, quarks and leptons are the elementary particles. However, science is evolving and we don't know if there are even sub-quantum components that make up a quark and lepton. So if you see textbook that says it's an atom, that textbook has to be revised.

Q: What will happen out of the blackhole made by CERN.

A: CERN is trying to mimic fraction of a second after Big Bang by colliding hadrons at 14TeraElectron Volt. Similarly such collisions would theoretically create mini-blackholes. However, these blackholes are very microscopic that they will not pose a threat to the human race. They could not even stand a second. They dissipate after 0.00000000000000000000000001 seconds. One should be concerned about the solar radiation first that goes into the Earth's atmosphere because they are by far a hundred times more potent and energetic than these laboratory blackholes. So, in summary, Large Hadron Collider is not a doomsday device.

We are conducting lectures regularly, during our monthly meeting, so 100 hours of astronomy might be a paltry. I might be giving out another lecture, this time might be about Dark Matter and Dark Energy, still about astrophysics, because that is where my specialty lies.


  1. Eeeeeeep! nosebleed ako haha

  2. grabeh, hindi naman. mukhang "epistaxis-causing" pero hindi naman. mukha lang.


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