Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Quantum physics made easy – for some

quantum, physics, Charlene Brown
(click on image to enlarge)
The Feynman-Hundertwasser Solution
Watercolour, crayon and Photoshop
©2014 Charlene Brown

Feynman diagrams are pictorial representations of the mathematical expressions governing the interactions of subatomic particles. They enable theoretical physicists to come up with easy answers to difficult problems in quantum mechanics… problems such as the self-energy of particles that had previously produced infinite answers for particle mass calculations. (Because E=mc2 energy has an equivalent mass so the interaction of an electron's field with its own charge (self-energy) adds to the particle's mass.)

Julian Schwinger of Harvard University and a Japanese theorist, Sin-Itiro Tomonaga, independently calculated the self-energy as the sum of an infinite series of progressively smaller terms. Richard Feynman solved the problem in a much more understandable way – Feynman diagrams, with smooth lines representing electrons and wavy lines representing photons, vertical axis representing time, and horizontal axis, space. Long story short… the three of them shared the 1965 Nobel Prize in Physics.

The Feynman-Hundertwasser Solution shows a ‘simple’ second order Feynman diagram surrounded by more complicated interactions including virtual particle loops. The addition of Friedenreich Hundertwasser  to the mix doesn't make it any easier to understand, but I think it improves the presentation.