1862: Particle Properties
Title text: Each particle also has a password which allows its properties to be changed, but the cosmic censorship hypothesis suggests we can never observe the password itself—only its secure hash.
A table is presented comparing the range (maximum and minimum value) and scale (how big number increments are) of several measures. The table begins by listing properties pertinent to particle physics as the title suggests, but quickly devolves to other domains such as role-playing games (such as D&D) and sports after failing to provide a good definition of flavor.
|Electric charge||[-1,1]|| The electric charge is shown in increments of a third from -1 to +1 which are the only known charges of fundamental particles (leptons, quarks and gauge bosons); however there are some exotic composite particles with twice integer charge, e.g. the recently discovered double charmed Xi baryon with a charge of +2.
Quarks are the only particles with charges of ± ⅓ or ± ⅔, but cannot exist individually; below the Hagedorn temperature, they are only found within hadrons. To date, all hadrons (particles composed of quarks), leptons, and bosons have integer charge, and current models indicate that this must be the case.
|Mass||[0,∞) in kg|| Mass (specifically rest mass) is the measure of an object or particle's resistance to force, as well as its ability to distort spacetime (its gravitational attraction).
Theoretically, any object's mass could approach infinity, but mass cannot be below 0 (as far as we know). The mass units shown (kilograms) are, however, far too large for particles. Some particles, such as photons, have zero rest mass and are therefore massless.
All particles with rest mass obtain it through confinement, either by the Higgs field (the quarks; leptons; and W, Z, and Higgs bosons) or the strong nuclear force (hadrons). Particles with no rest mass (photons and gluons) can only move at lightspeed.
|Spin number||(-∞,∞) (Intervals of ½)|| Spin is an intrinsic property of particles, a relativistic form of angular momentum. The spin of a particle determines what statistics the particle follows, half odd integer spin particles are classified as fermions and integer spin particles are bosons.
Two fermions cannot have exactly the same state, an observation known as the Pauli exclusion principle. Thus, for fermions to exist in the same position, they must have opposite spins, of + ½ and - ½. It follows that a maximum of two fermions of the same flavor (e.g. two electrons) may exist in the same position.
|Flavor||Misc. quantum numbers|| Flavor is a series of quantum numbers that do not fit neatly onto a set of dimensional axes.
The most general theory breaks flavor down into four distinct conserved values, the electric charge, the weak isospin, the baryon number and the lepton number, but more specific models increase the number of distinct values. Quarks, for example, add five more flavor numbers: isospin (upness vs. downness), strangeness, charm, topness and bottomness (the last four are literally just the number of strange, charmed, top and bottom quarks, minus the corresponding anti-quarks).
|Color charge||Coordinate system with R, G and B axes|| The primary strong nuclear force has six mutually attractive charges, arranged in three perpendicular axes each analogous to electric charge. These charges are commonly referred to as "color" and the three axes are given the names of the three primary colors of light: Red, Green and Blue. The black dots in the diagram represent the actual colors while the white dots are the anti-color charges: anti-Red (colored cyan in diagrams), anti-Green (magenta) and anti-Blue (yellow). To complete the analogy, a color charge of zero is referred to as "White". The names of these charges are purely allegorical, but they do make it convenient to refer to them, especially in diagrams.
The color of a particle not confined by the strong force must be White, either as the sum of a color and its anti-color (as in a meson), as the sum of RGB or anti-RGB (as in a baryon), or as a sum of those sums (As in tetra-, penta- or hexaquarks). The attraction of the strong nuclear force is so strong that attempting to separate two quarks from each other creates enough energy to create two new quarks, which then bind to the original quarks. This property is known as "confinement" and means that color charge can never be observed directly.
Randall is incorrect in stating "Quarks only", since gluons (the particle that carries the color force) are themselves colored. However, the colors of gluons are much more complicated, with a total of eight distinct superpositions of every possible color-anticolor pair. The fact that gluons are subject to the force they mediate also means that the strong force has a defined radius of effect, unlike the electromagnetic force, whose gauge bosons (the photon) are uncharged.
This is the last entry currently used to describe particles by particle physicists.
|Mood||5 emojis on a number line ranging from angry to joyful|| Particles are not considered to have mood, even in the allegorical way they have color or flavor, but Randall implies that there is a quantized 5 point scale (from "angry" to "ecstatic") which would have some effect on the properties of the particle. This would be more appropriate for measuring customer satisfaction. Charts such as this are also sometimes used in medicine to indicate levels of pain, and in some psychiatric treatments as a quick way to track changes in the patient's condition.
In grammar, particles are a nebulous class of words, usually defined by a lack of declension or conjugation (such as prepositions in English). Some languages use particles instead of or in addition to "standard" declension/conjugation, much like auxiliary verbs are used in English. These particles may well carry "mood" as an attribute, as well as tense and aspect.
|Alignment||3x3 grid with varying shades (columns Good-Evil, rows Lawful-Chaotic)||A reference to the tabletop RPG Dungeons & Dragons, where characters have an alignment that is either Good, Neutral, or Evil (describing whether they have a propensity to help or harm others) and either Lawful, Neutral, or Chaotic (describing how much they care about organizations, social norms, and the status quo). Common examples of these alignments include Darth Vader (Lawful Evil), Superman (Lawful Good), Robin Hood (Chaotic Good), and the Joker (Chaotic Evil). This may be a reference to the now defunct names of the two heaviest known quarks ("truth" and "beauty").|
|Hit points||[0,∞)||Games (videogames, board games, CCGs, RPGs, etc.) often have values for players and other entities that represent health (also called hit points or HP). Generally there is not necessarily a limit on this value, but it does not often go below 0 as the zero value is considered "dead" (or some equivalent).|
|Rating||5-star scale|| The five-star rating system is often used to rate films, TV shows, restaurants, and hotels. Randall has previously criticized this system in 937: TornadoGuard and 1098: Star Ratings.
Interestingly, unlike the "Heat" rating with the chili peppers below, this scale doesn't have a creatively labeled number line, merely a rating (3.5, in this case). Considering 1098, could Randall be subtly self-deprecating here?
|String type||Bytestring-Charstring||In computer science, this denotes what type of data is stored subsequent set of elements or a string. This is likely a pun on string types that appear in string theory and particle physics, and may also be a reference to Python, in which the difference between a byte string and a (Unicode) character string is a cause of difficulties for some programmers.|
|Batting average||[0,100] in %||In baseball, a player's batting average is calculated by dividing their hits by their at-bats. Instead of using the percent sign (%), it is usually presented as a number between 0 and 1 (inclusive) expressed as three decimal places with no leading zero: [.000, 1.000]. It is pronounced as though it is multiplied by 1,000: A batter with a batting average of .342 (which is very good) is said to be "batting three forty-two." A perfect batting average (unattainable except in very small samples) gives rise to the expression "batting a thousand." The 0-100 scale would be a better match for the batting average statistic in cricket, although percents would still not be used.|
|Proof||[0,200]||This refers to alcohol proof, which is the measure of the amount of ethanol in a beverage by volume. In the United States, 100 proof correspond to 50% alcohol, so the proof of a beverage is two times the percentage of ethanol, so the maximum value is 200.|
|Heat||No jalapeño icons - 3 jalapeño icons, increasing||Spicy dishes are sometimes measured by the intensity of the spicy flavor, usually ranging from values like "mild" to "hot". The gray jalapeño likely represents negligible or no spicy taste in the food. However, as an objective scale it is largely meaningless, since there is no reliable consistency in how these ratings are applied - what may be considered a 3-chilli dish in one establishment may only be a 1-chilli dish in another (as restaurants rarely if ever intend their dishes to be rated on the Scoville scale). The scale being unlimited may be a reference to the practice of some restaurants where a fourth or fifth chilli may be added to exaggerate the heat of their dishes.|
|Street value||[0,∞) in $||The value of an illegal good or a legal/controlled good when bought or sold by illegal means usually by or to the end user.|
|Entropy||This already has like 20 different confusing meanings, so it probably means something here, too.||The term "entropy", which began as a thermodynamic measure, has since been adopted by analogy into multiple seemingly unrelated domains. The table doesn't seem to know what domain it is in, but (possibly in a desperate attempt to hide this) deems it safe to assume the unknown domain uses the term "entropy" for something! Entropy is often described as a measure of disorder or chaos so this may be another reference to the D&D alignment axis above.|
The title text says that in addition each particle has a password, but only hash of the password can be observed. This is a computer science reference. In computer science, properties (e.g. of an object or program) often can be changed with a single command. In physics as we observe it, properties can locally change with the environment. There are several experiments, whether physical constants are really time-const. Password hashing is the practice of hiding the password itself by storing only an irreversible representation of the password. Since the password itself is not stored, the password cannot ever be viewed by the user or a hacker (outside of the login page). This method is considered to be safest way of storing passwords. Password hashing using some key derivation function makes it impossible to steal passwords even if the server that stores hashes is cracked, unless the hash function is also broken, which should be a task which cannot be completed in any feasible time for sufficiently strong passwords. The title-text claims this is predicted by the cosmic censorship hypothesis, which in reality claims that a gravitational singularity must always be obscured by an event horizon (i.e.: there can't be a naked singularity). There is also a hint of quantum mechanics in the statement, as observation is one of the central concepts of the field, and Heisenberg's uncertainty principle actually states that it is impossible to observe (measure) some property of a particle with arbitrary precision when another one is known (e.g.: you can't determine the momentum and position of a particle). This makes the title text a mix of several domains, as was the above table.
- Particle Properties in Physics
|Electric charge||[Scale with -1, 0 and +1 labeled and markings dividing the units in thirds. The endpoints are both dots.]|
|Mass||[Scale with 0, 1kg and 2kg labeled and markings dividing the units into thirds. The endpoints are a dot on the zero end and an arrow on the other end.]|
|Spin number||[Scale with -1, -½, 0, ½ and 1 labeled and no additional markings. The endpoints are both arrows, pointing out.]|
|Flavor||(Misc. quantum numbers)|
|Color charge||[Coordinate system of three axes labeled R, G and B clockwise from the 10 o'clock position. Endpoints are arrow-dots on all ends, with black dots for the labeled ends and white dots for the unlabeled ends.] (Quarks only)|
|Mood||[Scale labeled with 5 emoticons, from angry to happy, and markings dividing the units in thirds. Endpoints are both arrows, pointing out.]|
|Alignment||[3x3 grid with varying shades] Good-Evil, Lawful-Chaotic|
|Hit points||[Scale starting from 0, markings but no labels other than zero. Endpoints are a dot at zero end and an arrow at the other end.]|
|Rating||[Star rating of 3.5/5 stars.]|
|Batting average||[Scale from 0% to 100%. Endpoints are dot at 0% end and arrow-dot at 100% end.]|
|Proof||[Scale from 0 to 200. Endpoints are dot at 0 end and arrow-dot at 200 end.]|
|Heat||[Scale labeled with pepper icons, from 0 (a grayed-out pepper) to 3 black peppers. Endpoints are a dot at zero end and an arrow at the other end.]|
|Street value||[Scale with $0, $100 and $200 labeled. Endpoints are a dot at zero end and an arrow at the other end.]|
|Entropy||(This already has like 20 different confusing meanings, so it probably means something here, too.)|
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