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  Is there an explanation for the 3:2:1 ratio between the electron, up and down quark electric charges?

+ 8 like - 0 dislike

I understand that the NNG formula relates $Q$, $I_3$, and $Y$ and can be derived in QCD; does this unambiguously predict the electric charge ratios without making assumptions about the definitions of isospin and hypercharge?

If so, this is unintuitive to me! Why does a particle carrying $SU(3)$ color charge care what charge it has under the totally separate electroweak $U(1)\times SU(2)~$ symmetries?

If not, is there a name for the "problem" of explaining the charge ratios?

This post imported from StackExchange Physics at 2015-04-11 10:32 (UTC), posted by SE-user user1247
asked Mar 28, 2012 in Theoretical Physics by user1247 (540 points) [ no revision ]
retagged Apr 11, 2015

The only explanation I know is that they (quarks) were devised to be such in order to satisfy the experimental data and the idea of compositeness of hadrons and mesons. The rest is not an explanation, but a verification of the initial construction.

1 Answer

+ 6 like - 0 dislike

There is a nontrivial relation between the electric charge and the strong business, namely that there are instantons which will cause proton decay. So it is not completely true that there are no relations--- the requirement of anomaly cancellation requires that the proton decay process conserve charge, and so relates the total charge on the proton to the total charge on the electron.

The U(1) numbers are completely crazy. The only sensible explanation is that they come from an SU(5) GUT (or SO(10) or E6 or some higher version of the SU(5) idea). The reduction of charges from SU(5) is explained in this answer: Is there a concise-but-thorough statement of the Standard Model?

This gives the 1,2,3,6 ratios of the hypercharge assignments in nature, and completely explains the crazy quark charges. It is also an automatic way of ensuring anomaly cancellation. This, and approximate coupling constant unification, are the two strongest bits of evidence for a GUT at a scale of $10^{16}$ GeV or thereabouts.

answered Mar 29, 2012 by Ron Maimon (7,730 points) [ revision history ]
edited Apr 18, 2015 by dimension10

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