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Real world applications of post-1950s High Energy Physics

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Imagine a world where people knew everything we know today except for high energy physics, where their knowledge ends at our ~1950s level. Is there any real world application, any particular piece of technology, that we currently have or that is under development, they would not have because of their lack of knowledge?

To be more precise: In this fictional world, people for example know QED, renormalization and Feynman rules, but they do not know QCD, the particle zoo, the Standard Model and beyond. However, they have developed things like topological methods in condensed matter, as well as the world wide web independently, without doing research in particle physics. Also, I would not count applications such as positron emission tomography, because the ideas from particle physics it relies on predate 1950s.

asked Nov 25, 2015 in Resources and References by otimes (0 points) [ no revision ]
recategorized Nov 26, 2015 by dimension10

There are projects to do nuclear reactor detection using neutrino detection, which requires knowledge of neutrino flavor oscillation.

Do you mean A) theories proposed post-50s, B) theories well-understood post-50s or C) theories wel-understood and verified in detail by experiment post-50s? Because for practical applications, an almost necessary condition is C) (or a very well probed empirical relation without a theoretical grounding).

I would say that electro-weak theory is nearing C) and we will perhaps see some kind of application soon. There are so many examples of unclear understanding of QCD, such as both the theoretical and experimental discussion of exotic hadrons, which suggest that QCD is still far from C).

@Slereah That sounds interesting, do you have any reference for this?

@Void Are there any ideas as to what the applications of electroweak theory could be? Can you mention some other examples of unclear understanding of QCD? I guess quark gluon plasma is one of them. Are there any foreseen applications of exotic hadrons, quark-gluon plasma or some other aspect of QCD?

Well, QED was just beginning to be understood in 1950. Laser technology would thus perhaps qualify.

@Arnold Neumaier Thanks! I am aware of the use of QED in laser technology, and I tried to formulate the question so that it only includes high energy physics "beyond QED". But you are right that this is on the edge.

@ArnoldNeumaier The laser was really up and running by the end of the 50s, I would guess that more sofisticated calculations might be relevant only for fine-tuning the most modern lasers.

@otimes I could hardly consider myself an expert in this field but perhaps the gap in the understanding of QCD (which requires the knowledge of electro-weak interactions!) with the highest potential of application is understanding the detailed structure of the nucleus and nucleons. Nowadays, this is done either via a hierarchy of more or less shaky approximations or numerically in lattice QCD, and the frameworks unsurprisingly work reasonably well either for a small number of nucleons, or for a "very large" number of nucleons.

One could fantasize that the same way the knowledge of the atomic structure allows us nowadays to manipulate matter on the level of single atoms, we could once manipulate single nuclei or nucleons to fuse or fracture in a controlled manner to yield predesigned products and structures. Letting the imagination run a little further, this ability would allow us to essentially run "cold fusion", synthesise elements or to construct matter of completely unprecedented properties. But landing back on earth, the knowledge of more detailed properties of nuclei could also serve for very fine material diagnostics, similarly to nuclear magnetic resonance.

1 Answer

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Lasers qualify. The Wikipedia article on lasers says that

    The first laser was built in 1960 by Theodore H. Maiman at Hughes Laboratories, [...] A laser differs from other sources of light in that it emits light coherently.

Although QED and its renormalization were known by 1950, the modern theory of QED coherent states, which is the basis of modern laser technology, is younger. It was created by Klauder in 1960 and Glauber in 1963.

answered Nov 27, 2015 by Arnold Neumaier (12,355 points) [ revision history ]
edited Nov 27, 2015 by dimension10

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