Strange Numbers Found in Particle Collisions

An unexpected connection has emerged between the results of physics experiments and an important, seemingly unrelated set of numbers in pure mathematics.

“If it were true that there were a group acting on the numbers coming from physics, that means you’re finding a huge class of symmetries,” said recent School of Mathematics Member Francis Brown. “If that’s true, then the next step is to ask why there’s this big symmetry group and what possible physics meaning could it have.”

Among other things, it would deepen the already provocative relationship between fundamental geometric constructions from two very different contexts: motives, the objects that mathematicians devised 50 years ago to understand the solutions to polynomial equations, and Feynman diagrams, the schematic representation of how particle collisions play out. Every Feynman diagram has a motive attached to it, but what exactly the structure of a motive is saying about the structure of its related diagram remains anyone’s guess.

Read more at Quanta.


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