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RE: 100 years of discoveries in particle physics - building the Standard Model brick by brick

in StemSocial8 months ago (edited)

Wow! I know a master teacher when I come across one. The first principle of teaching you observe in this article: Do not assume your audience knows anything about the subject. Start with the fundamentals and build up. Then, define your terms...jargon will kill a lesson faster than you can say, "Oops!".

I have missed these lessons. I retain enough (remember) of your earlier blogs to place much of the terminology and explanation in context. However, here you sum up the basic elements of the discussion as you progress. And then you come to a succinct review of what has been described:

I have explained how physicists came, in more than 100 years, with a theory containing 12 entities (6 quarks, 3 charged leptons and 3 neutrinos) that interact electromagnetically, weakly and strongly (through so-called gauge interactions).

This theory, the Standard Model, is the current paradigm to explain how our universe works at its most fundamental level.

I was ready for that summation when I read it. It made sense to me. However, my favorite line in this blog:

humans are nothing in our universe (humans should actually keep this in mind more often, but this is another debate).


We would save ourselves so much grief if we recognized this.

I don't know how long it took to write the blog. I think it could be used by any high school physics teacher to explain the purpose of a course about which many kids ask, "Why do I need this?" I think if I had read this blog I might not have avoided 12th grade physics when the guidance counselor recommended it. Never too late to catch up, is it?

Thank you, @lemouth for filling in the gaps in my education.


Thanks a lot for this very nice comment (especially the last few words ;) ).

This text is really the result of how I introduce particle physics to the general audience today. The content has evolved over time, before getting to its current version. Even in this STEMsocial version, I changed a few things relative the previous version. I had so far had the chance to give it as a lecture here in Paris (several times), but also in Johannesbourg and Montreal. A much earlier version of it (that has now very little common grounds with this one) was presented at the SteemSTEM meetup at CERN (almost) 4 years ago.

I will try something a bit different soon at local middle schools. There, I will focus a bit less on research but more on the job of being a physicist that includes research, but that is not restricted to research. Actually, this could also be a nice topic for a blog (I note it for the future).

In terms of time, I must say it took me like two days (but I didn't work on the text on one go; it was scattered all over the week-end and a bit on Monday).