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Interactive video lesson plan for: The Most Beautiful Equation: How Wilczek Got His Nobel

Activity overview:

Frank Wilczek was one of three recipients of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2004 thanks to his work researching the so-called strong force. Frank Wilczek's book is "A Beautiful Question: Finding Nature's Deep Design" (http://goo.gl/AnhnnD).

Read more at BigThink.com: http://bigthink.com/videos/frank-wilczek-on-how-he-won-the-nobel-prize

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Transcript - There are four fundamental forces of nature as we now understand it. There’s gravity and electromagnetism which are the classic forces which were known already in prehistory and known in some form to the ancient Greeks but which had mature theories in the case of gravity already in the seventeenth century with Newton and in the nineteenth century with Maxwell and very beautiful descriptions and in case of gravity made even more beautiful with Einstein’s general theory of relativity in the early twentieth century. But in the course of studying subatomic physics and what goes on at very, very short distances people found they needed two additional forces – gravity and electromagnetism aren’t enough. And the two additional forces are called the strong and weak forces. What I got the Nobel Prize for was figuring out the equations of the strong force. And equally important not just guessing the equations but showing how you can test them and see that they were right. This was something I did as a graduate student. I was of course working very closely with my thesis advisor, a very, very gifted and powerful physicist named David Gross. What – so how did we go about doing it?

Well there were some – the experimental situation regarding the strong interaction was very confused, desperately confused. There was no theory even remotely worthy of standing beside Newton’s theory of gravity or Einstein’s or Maxwell’s theory of electromagnetism. There were just a lot of rules of thumb and a lot of confusing data. What we did was focus on one particular phenomenon and try to understand just that. Putting off all other aspects of this confusing situation. The phenomena we tried to understand seemed so paradoxical, so crazy that we thought if we could understand that we could understand anything basically. And also because it seemed so profound and fundamental. Actually David thought that we could prove that it couldn’t – that you couldn’t understand it within the standard framework of quantum mechanics and relativity. And that will be a very important result too because we tell physicists they had to go back to the drawing board. This aspect that we were trying to explain was the fact that quarks which were somewhat speculative but a pretty clear indication of reality at that time – when they get close together they hardly interact at all. Or when they’re moving at very high velocity relative to their high energy. Read Full Transcript Here: (http://goo.gl/3Y838C).

Tagged under: Frank Wilczek,Physics,fundamental,forces,nature,gravity,electromagnetism,Newton,Maxwell,Einstein,theory relativity,subatomic physics,Nobel Prize,equations,David Gross,data,paradox,phenomena,quantum mechanics,quarks,velocity,energy,protons,neutrons,laws,theory,quantum cromodynamics,asymptotic freedom,beauty,strong forces,weak forces,Big Think,BigThink,BigThink.,Education,Educational,Lifelong Learning,EDU

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