Frank Wilczek Lecture at MIT on Unification Theory of Elemental Forces

Linked here is a video of a lecture by Professor Frank Wilczek given at MIT about the unification theory of the elemental forces. 

Just because the lecture is in MIT doesn’t mean that you have to be a physicist to understand it. In fact, the lecture is geared toward the general audience and he explained things in a way that’s easy to understand. He also sprinkled in a few jokes into the lecture.

As Wilczek mentioned, you do not have to be a physicist in order to appreciate the beauty of the laws of nature. But he does say it is an exciting time to be a physicist, due to the fact that all these exciting ideas that are coming out. And that experiments at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) may be able to show whether the ideas are correct or not. This lecture was given in 2008 and the LHC was due to come online in a year from that time.

Wilczek has a book called, The Lightness of Being: Mass, Ether, and the Unification of Forces: Anticipating a New Golden Age — and this is also title of the lecture.

In the lecture, Wilczek showed us some pictures of the LHC from the inside as well as from a birds-eye-view. Although you cannot really see much from the bird’s-eye-view since the collider is underground. What is important is that Wilczek explains what the LHC does, and a little on how it works, and how it is important to physicists. He even played a clip of the LHC rap video song. He stopped the video halfway, since although the first part of the video is scientifically correct, the second part gets it wrong.

Another video that he showed was what apparent empty space looks like at a microscopic level with its quantum fluctuations.

At the end of the lecture, there was time for Q&A. He answered a question about the Higgs particle and also explained briefly about dark matter and dark energy. He explained that matter as we normally think of it comprised only 5% of the mass of the universe. That dark energy comprises around 70%. Dark energy is uniform across all space so it’s kind of a medium of space. Here is an article explaining what the universe is made out of.

Frank Wilczek did win the Nobel Prize in physics in 2004 along with David Gross and David Politzer for discovery of asymptotic freedom in the theory of the strong interaction.


Frank Wilczek Autobiography

Frank Wilczek website