Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Long abstract/rationale to my talk at the Max Planck für Wissenschaftgeschicte, Sept 6, 2 pm

The purpose of this talk is to look at an aspect of speculative physics, which is the larger topic of my dissertation-in-progress, in relation to what it signifies in theoretical quantum physics (both ordinary and relativistic, including aspects of quantum field theory) and in experimental particle physics, elucidating the points of connections between them. However, as the objects I am concentrating on for the purpose of the dissertation are the big experiments of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in the form of ATLAS and CMS (and a to a much lesser extent, CDF, D0, and the LHCb), as well as the potentialities of the LHC itself as media for thinking about the ontological conditions of knowledge-making and dissemination, I focus mainly on

1)   Decision-making that takes place during data-analysis to understand how selection is made. I will mostly be looking at the data collected in the process of the Higgs searches, as well as that relating to searches of particles within the supersymmetry framework, as each represents different aspects (and levels) of experimental speculation that are interpreted through their statistical significance, levels of confidence and standard deviations. I am also interested in examining how the interpretation of experimental results are influenced by the current framework of the Standard Model, which connects to the quantum relativistic field model that gave rise to it;
2)   Design of experiments (mainly from ATLAS and CMS) in relation to a supercollider such as the Large Hadron Collider, and what drives the rationale behind the specific triggering (experimental decision) of the proton-proton or electron-electron or even photonic interactions to focus on specific events that can give hints to the identity of particle groups, even when it seems as much of the basis for the experiments seem to rise on conjecture and the desire to peer into ‘exotic’ theoretical predictions of possibilities stemming from interpretation of quantum mechanics relating to questions of decoherence and many worlds;
3)   The LHC as a medium from which speculative theories can be tested, verified or approximated; building from the cumulative effects of information generated from previous triggers, and also as a space for thinking bout a parallel universe of microstate events taking place at the relativistic conditions of quantum rules;
4)   Simulation and visualization of both theoretical models and experimental results through Monte Carlo software and also other graphical tools such as the HEPMC browser.
5)   Questions of fictions of science and fictions in science in relation to 4) in terms of modeling, as well as narrative building that looks into way in which physical laws and facts can be presented as interacting objects, by drawing into fictional works and thought experiments authored by physicists or non-physicists that draw on modern physical theories.

However, in order to ground the experimental physics as well as creative-speculative aspect of my work, I decided that it is important to look at the role played by theory as an entry into the process of speculative ontology. I am more interested in focusing on certain interpretive aspects of quantum physics that will help in understanding the experimental directions taken especially when one has to decide on what constraints to prioritize, and the range of data to include, and also what theories provides the analytical fuel to interpreting results through its predictions and models. In this talk, I will be focusing on the theoretical formalism of interest in terms of their possible relevance to experimental particle physics, and the phenomenological role played by theory in pushing for particular experimental goals, such as in the Higgs searches. I will consider the chronology of developments that brought about the sort of quantum formalism that we have today, attempting to analyze areas in which the empirical proofs of experiments can possibly contribute to advancing certain interpretation of relativistic quantum mechanics. I conjecture that the more speculative areas of investigations in experimental physics are productive for thinking about questions of observability and non-observability, and even what constitutes as important aspects of reality, in the interpretation of quantum mechanics.

While I am most interested in using the Feynman diagrams as the bridge for connecting theory to experiment and the fundamental role it can play for conceptualizing the paths of particulate movement, creation and annihilation, and as a form of distilling dense field-theoretical derivations into a more accessible formalism, representing the different forms of particle interactions. This comes through the development of field formalism that has its origins in the ordinary (non-relativistic) quantum mechanics of wave-theory and matrix methods that look at single particles operating in Hilbert space. Questions of normalization, entanglements and aspirations of the unified theory are areas of interrogation I hope to get into in my dissertation, though I may only touch on briefly in this talk.

I hope to demonstrate that the act of speculativeness in physics is built upon the facticity of the measurements of the observable to extrapolate into areas that are not yet directly empirically observable (or areas of non locality), but form traces of statistical significance that point to a yet undisproved possibility, such as in the investigation into supersymmetric entities. It may also be profitable to look into how interpretive-speculative practices in experiments are constraint by factors and conditions not faced by theorists who work out hypothetical models through formalistic tools, and look at the role of phenomenology in physics creating realistic expectations of possibilities while maintaining a certain level of creative imagination in model-building and experimental determinism/indeterminism.

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