George Zweig At ICNFP 2013
    By Tommaso Dorigo | September 2nd 2013 04:10 AM | 4 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
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    I am an experimental particle physicist working with the CMS experiment at CERN. In my spare time I play chess, abuse the piano, and aim my dobson...

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    Yesterday I had the great pleasure to listen to George Zweig, who gave seminar about the discovery of the idea of quarks (or Aces, as he originally named them) at the International Conference of New Frontiers in Physics which is going on this week in the nice setting of Kolymbari, on the north-west coast of the Mediterranean island of Crete.

    The seminar included a very entertaining recollection of how the idea came about, and what were the initial reactions of several of the main characters of the theoretical physics arena in the sixties of last century (including Feynman, who was originally very sceptical but then accepted the idea toward the end of the sixties). The acceptance of the reality of quarks was in general quite slow, and Zweig was more of a believer of the concrete existence of these constituents than was originally Murray Gell-Mann, who had cooked up the same idea working with group theory and liked more to think of quarks as mathematical entities rather than real ones.

    (Above, Zweig after the seminar)

    I was astonished to hear the story of the 80-pages paper on hadron constituents that Zweig wrote in 1964, and was unable to get published. He was working as a US visitor at CERN back then, and papers had to be undersigned by Leon Van Hove, who was then the head of the theory division (he later became Director General of CERN) before they got submitted to journals. He wanted papers to be published on European journals only, but Zweig wanted to publish on Physical Review. The clash resulted in the paper remaining in the drawers for 16 years... Van Hove even instructed his secretary, madame Fabergé, not to type any of Zweig's articles, to make sure he would have it his own way !

    After the seminar I hung around with Zweig and a few of the conference participants, and we continued the discussion and a recollection of anecdotes in front of a glass of wine. I unfortunately must have drunk a glass too many, since I promised that I would not broadcast the many stories I heard. Hence I am afraid I cannot share them with you here.  But if the evening convinced me of something, it is that Zweig should really write a biography - or actually two, since apparently the life of Zweig's father is even more astonishing than his own ! 


    Vladimir Kalitvianski
    If we look at Hydrogen atom in |2,1,0> state, we will see two subclouds of fractional charges. Can we call them constituents of the atom? (They are not observable as such out of atom.)

    Also if you run around a table and somebody takes a long exposure, you will be distributing fractional bits of your ego around the table. Can we call those bits fractional Vladimirs ?

    Vladimir Kalitvianski
    "Smearing" a classical object is not the same as QM smearing. There is no interference in the classical case. Concerning my ego, on a photo it will be always entire so you should not add any "pieces" to obtain me entirely, that's the difference!

    As well, the picture I presented is elastic, whereas the classical image is always inclusive inelastic.
    In the monoghraph "Weak Interaction of Elementary Particles" Pergamon Press, 1965
    SU_3 multiplets were described in Chapter 20 (pages 218-269).
    On page 238 it was written:
    " To avoid these difficulties, Gell-Mann and, independently, Zweig have put forrward a
    theory based on triplets with Z=0; Gell-Mann calls the triplets quarks, and Zweig calls them aces."

    On page 252 the electromagnetic and weak currents in the quark model were presented