SPECIAL SECTION: Message For Our “Friends” In The Middle Kingdom
I normally save this for near the end, but…basically…up your shit-kicking barbarian asses. Yes, barbarian! It took a bunch of sailors in Western Asia to invent a real alphabet instead of badly drawn cartoons to write with. So much for your “civilization.”
Yeah, the WORLD noticed you had to borrow the Latin alphabet to make Pinyin. Like with every other idea you had to steal from us “Foreign Devils” since you rammed your heads up your asses five centuries ago, you sure managed to bastardize it badly in the process.
Have you stopped eating bats yet? Are you shit-kickers still sleeping with farm animals?
Or maybe even just had the slightest inkling of treating lives as something you don’t just casually dispose of?
Zhōngguò shì gè hùndàn !!!
China is asshoe !!!
And here’s my response to barbarian “asshoes” like you:
OK, with that rant out of my system…
Justice Must Be Done.
The prior election must be acknowledged as fraudulent, and steps must be taken to prosecute the fraudsters and restore integrity to the system.
Lawyer Appeasement Section
OK now for the fine print.
This is the WQTH Daily Thread. You know the drill. There’s no Poltical correctness, but civility is a requirement. There are Important Guidelines, here, with an addendum on 20191110.
We have a new board – called The U Tree – where people can take each other to the woodshed without fear of censorship or moderation.
And remember Wheatie’s Rules:
1. No food fights
2. No running with scissors.
3. If you bring snacks, bring enough for everyone.
4. Zeroth rule of gun safety: Don’t let the government get your guns.
5. Rule one of gun safety: The gun is always loaded.
5a. If you actually want the gun to be loaded, like because you’re checking out a bump in the night, then it’s empty.
6. Rule two of gun safety: Never point the gun at anything you’re not willing to destroy.
7. Rule three: Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to fire.
8. Rule the fourth: Be sure of your target and what is behind it.
(Hmm a few extras seem to have crept in.)
All prices are Kitco Ask, 3PM MT Friday (at that time the markets close for the weekend).
This week, markets closed for the weekend at 3:00 PM Mountain Time
According to people who read commodities and stock charts for a living, gold has definitely staged a “technical breakout.”
I suppose I should try to explain that statement. (If someone here actually does this for a living, please correct/amplify as warranted.) Apparently the movements of these sorts of prices generally follow certain patterns. For example, you might see something climb, peak, drop, climb again, peak even higher, then drop. Then it will climb again but reach a peak lower than the previous peak. Because you see three peaks with the one in the middle higher than the two on the sides, it’s called a “head and shoulders” pattern, and generally they expect to see the stock or commodity drop a lot coming off that third peak. There’s also a tendency for prices to move up and down in a narrow channel (which may itself be rising, falling, or staying the same). This sort of thing works well until it doesn’t; the idea is to spot when the current pattern is failing.
It also matters–a lot–the time range you’re using to look at the graph. Gold apparently was in a flagpole-and-pennant pattern, which ends with it bouncing up and down in a narrowing range (the pennant; it looks a bit like a triangle pointing to the right). When the point of the pennant is reached, a big move is expected. It could be up or down.
According to this analysis, we’re seeing the big move right now, and it’s up. The trick is knowing how far up it will go. Apparently if gold can break $1900 it’s expected to go to $2000, and at least one “expert” has said it’s likely to do so.
I have hedged my wording quite a lot, because these “rules” aren’t rules, they are tendencies and sometimes they do go wrong. If you decide to rush off and buy a 400 oz bar, and gold turns around and crashes unexpectedly dropping 300 bucks, and you lose $120,000…well, it’s not MY fault; I am NOT giving advice and even if I were, you wouldn’t have to follow it.
What am I going to do? Absolutely nothing. I have a position in gold and I don’t plan to alter it. I’ve learned that I absolutely suck at short-term plays.
Part XXV: The Particle Zoo
We’re going back inside the atom again. Only natural since last time we were doing cosmology. And if that sounds like irony to you, it really isn’t. The two subjects are inextricably tied together; cosmologists pay a lot of attention to particle physics.
As of 1935, our picture of the “innards” of atoms consisted of electrons (very light particles with a “negative” electric charge) “orbiting” a much heavier nucleus (at least 1800 times the mass of the electrons, sometimes much more). That nucleus in turn consisted of “positive” charged protons (about the same number as electrons; in fact for an neutral, unionized atom, the exact same number) and (except in the case of Hydrogen-1, the most common atom in the universe by far) some number of neutrons. The electron and proton charges were equal in strength but opposite each other (making it mathematically natural to call one charge e and the other charge -e, as if they were mathematical opposites; however the assignment of -e to the electron was historical accident that goes back to Founding Father Benjamin Franklin). The neutron has no electric charge at all. The neutron and proton are almost exactly the same mass (the neutron is slightly heavier), roughly 1830 times the electron.
These particles all have some angular momentum, generally 1/2 or -1/2 of Planck’s reduced constant, ħ (pronounced “h-bar”).
We had also discovered that every one of these particles has an anti-particle of the same mass but opposite electric charge and spin. Bringing a particle and its anti-particle together causes a sort of mutual annihilation where the particles turn completely into energy. (Though some of the heavier particles release a mix of energy and lighter particles.) The anti-electron is also known as a positron; the others are simply anti-protons, anti-neutrons, and so on.
There was a solid theoretical argument for something called a neutrino, too (plus an anti-neutrino), but they’re hard to detect. (They did eventually get detected in the 1950s, but that’s getting ahead of things.)
Finally, there was the photon, the particle (though sometimes it behaves as a wave) of electromagnetic energy, whose spin is 1. The photon is its own anti-particle; or equivalently, it has no anti particle but plays the same role interacting with anti-particles as it does with particles.
These can be classified as follows (I’m going to leave out the anti-particles; they go into the same buckets as their corresponding particles):
bosons: Have an integer spin, and many can occupy the same quantum state: photon. You can think of these as “force carrying” particles, but only one of them was known in 1935.
fermions: Have a half-integer spin, and only one can occupy a particular quantum state: electron, neutrino, proton, neutron. These you can think of as “matter.” But you can divide these into leptons and baryons, meaning light and heavy. Electrons and neutrinos are leptons, protons and neutrons are baryons.
A brick of gold or anything else you can drop on your foot is made mostly (by weight) of baryons, and today we have occasion to call it “baryonic matter” (which implies there’s some kind of matter that is not “baryonic matter” but that’s another story for another day, soon).
Baryons, and only baryons, are subject to the strong nuclear force, which makes them stick to each other in nuclei in spite of the fact that protons repel each other electrically with simply ridiculous amounts of force. The strong force has to do with alpha radioactive decay.
Baryons and leptons both are subject to the weak nuclear force, as well.
The electron and proton have an electric charge, and are thus subject to the electromagnetic force as well, while the neutrino and neutron have no charge and aren’t subject to the electromagnetic force.
Finally, nuclear and particle physicists have a couple of quirks. They express energy in electron volts (eV), the amount of energy an electron gains after going through a potential of one volt. And that is exactly 1.602176634×10−19 joules.
Mass will be expressed in eV/c2, electron volts divided by c2. After all E = mc2, so dividing energy by c2 gives you a mass. When talking though, they’ll often just say the mass of such-and-such particle is so many eV and not bother saying “over see squared.” They all know what they mean, and I’m going to dispense with it here.
An electron has a mass of 511 keV (kilo electron volts, thousand electron volts). Protons and neutrons weigh in at 938.3 and 939.6 MeV (mega electron volts, million electron volts), respectively.
OK, that’s a recap!
In 1935, Hideki Yukawa (1907-1981) took up the issue of the strong nuclear force. It seemed that there ought to be some particle that mediates it, just like photons mediate the electromagnetic force.
The strong nuclear force is very strong…over very short distances. It drops off to nothing rapidly thereafter. This could be explained if that mediating particle was unstable. If it can’t get far before it breaks down, the force it carries can’t get far either. But an even better “fit” comes from consideration of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. It allows a particle to be created from nothing, but for a very short time. In other words, the energy can be “borrowed” for a brief period of time, but the more energy that is borrowed, the shorter the term of the loan.
So a particle about 200 times the mass of the electron could be created from nothing…but would have to disappear before it had a chance to move much more than the diameter of a proton. But while it was there, it could act to “carry” the strong nuclear force.
Of course, if there’s enough energy to create the particle conventionally, it will, perhaps, stick around long enough to actually be detected.
This was an intermediate mass particle, so it was named “meson” from a Greek word meaning “middle” (also appearing in “Mesoamerica” and “Mesozoic”).
Remember what I just said about “if there’s enough energy to create the particle conventionally”? One place where there’s a lot of energy is in cosmic ray collisions with atoms in our upper atmosphere.
And lo and behold the very next year, 1936, a particle about 200 times the mass of the electron was found as the product of such collisions by Carl D. Anderson (1905-1991), the same man who had discovered the positron in 1932. This meson had a charge of -e, the same as the electron, and it decayed in about 2.2 microseconds. Which seemed a bit long (this is an eternity when dealing with subatomic particles).
Neils Bohr suggested naming the particle the “yukon” (to honor Yukawa) and in fact, for a time that’s what many called it.
But it very quickly became apparent this actually was not Yukawa’s meson. It didn’t seem to want to have anything whatsoever to do with the strong nuclear force.
The more they looked at this meson, the more it looked like it was just like a heavy, unstable electron.
In 1947 another such particle was discovered by a collaboration led by Cecil Powell in England. This, indeed was the particle Yukawa was expecting. So, to distinguish the two, this new particle was called the pi-meson, and Anderson’s discovery was called the mu-meson.
More mesons were discovered, and the mu-meson turned out to be a real oddball; its name got shortened to “muon” and that’s the name it has to this day. It’s still, basically, an overweight, unstable cousin of the electron. It seemed to have no clear role in anything at all; in fact Nobel laureate I. I. Rabi very famously quipped, “who ordered that?” (Today in our “Brandon” age where certain four letter words are acceptable for display on flags for little kids to practice phonics on, he might have said, “WTF is this?!?” only spelled out.)
Muons today are famous for being excellent proofs of time dilation. The muons generated in the upper atmosphere (tens of miles up) by cosmic rays shouldn’t live long enough to move more than about 2200 feet on average (1 foot is almost exactly one nanosecond at light speed, a microsecond is a thousand nanoseconds). Yet they regularly manage to reach us here on the ground because their “clocks” run slower at the speed they are moving. This can also be checked in particle accelerators.
As time went on, the muon’s resemblance to the electron looked stronger and stronger; it’s now classified as a lepton, not a meson. Meanwhile, as I mentioned before, we started discovering other types of mesons.
And we started discovering new types of baryons as well.
Quite a lot of both.
Mesons (minus the muon, no longer considered a true meson) and baryons together shared the characteristic of being affected by the strong nuclear force. So as a class the two together were now named “hadrons.”
By 1956, people were talking about the “particle zoo” because there were so many different kinds of hadrons known.
Now let me make one thing perfectly clear. I’m going to throw a lot of particle names at you here; but the real point of this is later on. Once you’ve seen that point…forget about these particles. They do not matter, and never will to anyone outside a particle physics lab (who have to be able to identify them if only so they can ignore them–they’re noise).
Just for instance in the 1950s a (forgettable) baryon known as the delta particle, about 25 percent heavier than protons, was discovered. Its charge was +2e, twice that of the proton! Also discovered were three other particles of the same mass, with charges +e, 0, and -e. They all had 3/2 spin (not 1/2). These ended up all being called delta particles, with symbols Δ++ , Δ+ , Δ0 , and Δ–. Physicists tended to name these particles after Greek letters but had long since run out of them and were having to double, triple, and quadruple up on them.
In fact the pi meson (now called a pion) turned out to have three varieties, π+, π0 , and π– . It turned out those delta particles would decay into combinations of pi particles, protons and neutrons (e.g., the double delta would decay into a proton and a positive pion, the neutral delta would decay into a neutron plus a neutral pion or a proton and a negative pion), and generally within about 5×10-24 seconds!
This was just one piece of it. There was an obvious question. Why was there a double positive delta particle, but no double negative delta? This turned out to be a big clue, actually.
Here’s another one. There is a (forgettable) K meson, too, discovered in 1947. (And it’s K, not kappa.) Now shortened to kaon, it, too, comes in positive, neutral, and negative forms. K+, K0 , and K–.
These lived much longer than pions or delta particles, about 1×10-8 seconds.
This longer life eventually led to the recognition of a property that simply got called “strangeness,” at the suggestion of Murray Gell-Mann (1929-2019) [yes, we’ve reached the Trump administration.] It was conserved in fast reactions that seemed to have to do with the strong nuclear force, but not in slower reactions (like the kaon’s decay) that had to do with the weak nuclear force.
We eventually found baryons that had strangeness in them too, sometimes even in double doses. No baryon (other than the proton, and (almost) the neutron) was stable, but the strange ones were less unstable than the non-strange ones.
We now had scores of baryons and mesons…all of them supposedly fundamental particles, and very little rhyme or reason to the mess. That’s why we had the “particle zoo.”
Which, maybe, reminds you of something.
It’s like the way we were finding more and more chemical elements in the 1800s, all of them fundamental entities (or so we thought), and there didn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to that mess either.
And what happened, in 1869, was the first good effort to find a way to organize them coherently, then in the 1890s, the discovery that they consisted of a handful of more basic particles.
And this is exactly what happened here.
Murray Gell-Mann (again), in 1961 found a way to organize these particles, working with their charge and their strangeness. They ended up, mostly, in groups of eight. There was a group of eight mesons with a single meson left over.
The baryons came in two groups:
There was also a baryon decuplet, where our delta particles show up:
This made things tidy, but just like the periodic table, there were strong hints of an underlying order. In the case of the periodic table, it turned out to be the precise ways electron orbitals would be defined by quantum mechanics. In this case, who knew?
The Ω particle at the bottom of the decuplet was not known in 1961. Gell-Mann predicted it in 1962 because it fit the logical progression, and a very close match for it was found in 1964. This was a lot like Mendeleyev predicting gallium and germanium, so it made it look like Gell-Mann was onto something.
Gell-Mann called this schema the eightfold way (inspired by Buddhism’s “eightfold path”).
It took a few decades for chemists to understand the underlying “message” of the periodic table.
It took exactly three years for the particle physicists to make a suggestion–the one which turned out to be correct–as to what was under this scheme.
Gell-Mann, and, independently, George Zweig (1937-still alive and kicking!) came up with what turned out to be the correct answer…though it would take quite some time to prove it and flesh it out.
All of these hadrons were made of something smaller, which got named quarks. There were three kinds of quarks. An “up” quark had a +2/3 charge. A “down” quark has a -1/3 charge. And so does a “strange” quark. Strange quarks are unstable, wanting to decay into up quarks. However, they are responsible for strangeness. All quarks have 1/2 spin (though they can sometimes be “upside down” with a -1/2 net spin).
The three different kinds of quarks are called different flavors of quarks.
[Up, down, strange, flavor..and you’ll soon see color names. Note a lot of English, instead of Latin or Greek. Even the name “quark” came from a poem written in English. This is why it all seems whimsical bordering on silly sometimes. “Up” versus “proton”–the word “proton” has far more gravitas.]
So how does this work?
Baryons consist of exactly three quarks.
A proton consists of two up quarks and a down quark (uud), and if you do the math, that’s a net +1 charge. A neutron consists of an up and two down quarks (udd) and again, doing the math, that’s a net 0 charge.
The delta particles cover all four possible combinations of up and down quarks (uuu, uud, udd, ddd) and doing the math you get charges, 2, 1, 0, and -1, respectively. The difference between the proton (uud) and the delta+ particle (uud) is the spin; deltas have 3/2 spin and protons 1/2 spin. (Similarly for neutrons and the delta-0 particle.) Now why isn’t there a uuu or ddd baryon with a 1/2 spin? This is excluded on quantum-mechanical grounds; a 3/2 spin is mandatory for these combinations.
Particles with strangeness have at least one strange quark. Those Σ particles (3 of them) have one strange quark each, the remaining question is whether the other two quarks will be uu, ud, or dd (three possibilities). The natural result is the decuplet shown, where the bottom member is three strange quarks, sss, making up the Ω.
Now these baryons start to make a sort of sense. What about the mesons?
As it happens, every quark has an anti-particle of the opposite charge, so there’s an anti-up with a -2/3 charge, for instance. A meson is a quark and an anti-quark. So you could pair an up with an anti-down to create a meson with 2/3 + (- 1/3) = 1 charge, and that’s the π+. The other two forms of pions are also formed from up and down quarks/anti-quarks; the negative pion is a down and an anti-up. The neutral pion turns out to be two different things. It is either an up+anti-up or down+anti-down pair and of course the two quarks right next to their own anti-particle don’t last long at all! (Neutral pions decay in about 10-17 seconds, the others are good for about 10-8 seconds, a billion times as long.)
Running all the combinations of up, down, strange and their opposite numbers gives nine possible mesons. And more arise when you consider different combinations of spin (which will be whole numbers in this case).
Again, the point is NOT to remember this stuff more than 10-8 seconds after finishing the article (and if you remember it even that long, you’re strange), other than to remember the idea of quarks. So if your eyes are glazed over…that’s fine.
This whole theory was considered by many to be a completely abstract model with no bearing on reality, however, very similar to the Rutherford experiment with scattering alpha particles off of gold atoms, in 1968 someone was able to shoot things into protons and neutrons…and it became evident that there were things inside the proton and neutron. Still, scientists didn’t want to conclude that what was there were Gell-Mann/Zweig quarks, so they called them “partons” (nothing to do with Dolly…it’s off the word “part”).
As time went on it turned out that the quark model was correct, but there’s one more aspect to the story.
We’ve never seen a quark all by its lonesome. They seem to want to be in groups of three, or two (when one is an anti-particle). So either three quarks, or a (net) zero quarks!
Very shortly after the quark concept was introduced, Oscar W. Greenberg suggested that the strong force might actually have its own sort of charge. Except that instead of a positive and negative charge (two opposite charges, in other words) like electromagnetism, there might be three kinds of charges. Combining all three made a neutral strong charge.
Exactly like the way red, green and blue light add up to make white, but any combination of two of these will have some sort of color.
So in fact it’s now called “color charge” even though actual color has nothing to do with it. The three quarks in (say) a proton, consist of one “blue,” one “green,” and one “red” quark (and it doesn’t really matter which one is which). They add to white, no color charge.
A meson, with a quark and anti-quark, will have, say, a “red” and “anti-red” (or cyan) charge, again, net result white, no color charge. (It’s almost always called “anti-red”, “anti-green” or “anti-blue” never cyan, magenta and yellow.)
And it turns out the strong nuclear force is actually an indirect manifestation of the strong force (note: no word “nuclear”) between the quarks. In other words the proton-proton attraction within the nucleus is not the primary manifestation of the force. Rather, the strong force keeps the protons and neutrons themselves together. It’s sort of like theorizing that a rubber band seems to have a “rubber band” force to it, but then finding out what’s really at the bottom of it is electromagnetic forces between atoms and molecules in the rubber band.
The strong force is, fundamentally, carried by particles called gluons (which are bosons of zero spin). They have mass, but more importantly, they themselves have “color” are subject to the strong force, unlike photons which aren’t subject to the force they carry. So two quarks exchange virtual gluons, and the virtual gluons themselves can exchange more virtual gluons. That turned out to be a very interesting computational problem, largely aided by “Feynman diagrams” invented by Richard Feynman.
Who, by the way, hated the color names; he thought they would be confusing and even called his colleagues “idiot physicists” for using the term.
As it turns out the only force capable of changing the flavor of a quark is the weak force. And weak interactions tend to take more time (or equivalently, are less likely), which is why those strange baryons and hadrons took so long to decay: The strange quark had to change to an up quark, and that’s a slow process because it requires the weak force.
More Recent Developments
Having two quarks with -1/3 charge but only one of 2/3 charge was an imbalance that nagged at people; so almost immediately, there were suggestions there should be a fourth quark…which got the name “charm.” So there would be two “generations” of quarks: up/down made one, and charm/strange made another. This sort of matched the leptons, where there was an electron and a muon which could be considered a second generation.
Today, it’s stated that the strange quark was detected in 1968.
In 1973 a third generation was suggested, called top and bottom. (I distinctly remember hearing them called “truth” and “beauty” as a kid…and I did not realize they didn’t actually mean truth and beauty, so I just shook my head and probably at least thought the word “bullshit” at the thought that they were claiming to have found particles of actual truth and beauty. Fortunately almost no one calls them that today.)
In 1974 the charm quark was detected. The Bottom quark followed in 1977. The top quark is quite a lot more massive (about as massive as a gold atom!) and wasn’t found until 1995.
Similarly, there are three generations of “electron.” The tau particle or tauon was first speculated on in 1960, and detected in 1974-75. Its half life is about 10-13 seconds. So the stable of leptons is filling out too.
There are a couple more chapters in this story. One, I think I can disregard. The other one I can’t…but I will save it for later. Interestingly, it has to do with that odd bit about the sun only producing 1/3 of the neutrinos anticipated.
OK, now that you know what quarks are…forget the kaons, delta particles, sigmas. xis, and omegas. None of these will ever show up in your kitchen and even the pion isn’t a household word by any means. And you’re unlikely to ever see strange, charm, top and bottom quarks, either (though they’re easier to remember). Muons? Occasionally thanks to cosmic rays. Tauons? Never.
The ones that exist outside a physics laboratory or a smashup in the upper atmosphere are the first generation, the electron, up and down. Everything you see around you, everything you can drop on your foot, is made up of those. The others are exotic and evanescent. They only matter (pun intended) to particle physicists.
Obligatory PSAs and Reminders
China is Lower than Whale Shit
Remember Hong Kong!!!
Zhōngguò shì gè hùndàn !!!
China is asshoe !!!
China is in the White House
Since Wednesday, January 20 at Noon EST, the bought-and-paid for His Fraudulency Joseph Biden has been in the White House. It’s as good as having China in the Oval Office.
Joe Biden is Asshoe
China is in the White House, because Joe Biden is in the White House, and Joe Biden is identically equal to China. China is Asshoe. Therefore, Joe Biden is Asshoe.
But of course the much more important thing to realize:
Joe Biden Didn’t Win
Qiáo Bài dēng méi yíng !!!
Joe Biden didn’t win !!!