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Gell-Mann proposes experiment to determine that there is only one fundamental particle

I had a dream last night that for a long time, there had been plans afoot to test the hypothesis that there is only one fundamental particle in the universe. If I recall correctly, the Standard Model of particle physics actually predicts that all electrons are really one and the same, but that it just appears everywhere at the same time. In my dream, this applied to all particles, and it was actually testable.

I was watching a documentary about this on Discovery Channel, where they said that the traditionally proposed way of determining this was to use sensors on the moon under very specific astronomical conditions. Particle physicists had tried to persuade the Apollo program to deploy these sensors during their missions in the early 70s, but to no avail — the theory was simply too avant-garde back then, and it was pushed back in favour of more immediately useful experiments. Subsequent cuts in the space program had caused there to be no new missions to the moon, which was a pity, since the necessary constellation of the planets was just now about to repeat itself.

Now Murray Gell-Mann came on the screen, and he proposed a completely new experimental setup that didn't need any equipment on the moon. Everything that was needed, he said, was for a few hundred thousands of people to drink a glass of water simultaneously, and perform a simple measurement. Presumably they would time how long it took to do this, but details were vague. Statistical analysis of the data would be sufficient to confirm or reject a key part of the theoretical machinery that predicted all fundamental particles to be identical.

Then I woke up, and felt very thirsty. I staggered out into the kitchen, and — you guessed it — guzzled a large glass of water.

[Friday, Aug 26, 2005 @ 11:47] | [] | # | G