Watercolour, crayon and Photoshop
©2014 Charlene Brown
In 2013, physicists discovered a geometric object that dramatically simplifies calculations of particle interactions. “The degree of efficiency is mind-boggling,” according to Jacob Bourjaily, one of the researchers who developed the new idea. “You can easily do, on paper, computations that were infeasible even with a computer before.” Well, that’s easy for him to say… But this uncluttered visualization does make key concepts of quantum physics very nearly comprehensible.
And by simplifying the equations needed to calculate scattering amplitudes of particle interactions, the amplituhedron is bringing quantum physicists much closer to unifying gravity and quantum theory under one comprehensive model, the Grand Unifying Theory (aka. Theory of Everything). After decades of mind-boggling research and attempts at resolving the theoretical issues – ideas like string theory tend to be confusing and unprovable – all existence comes down to this small structure, or something very like it.
What will Sheldon Cooper make of it?
What might some brilliant artist make of it?
This painting is based on a well-known sketch by Nima Arkani-Hamed that shows an amplituhedron representing particle interactions. Apparently, using Feynman diagrams, the same calculation would take roughly 500 pages of algebra.