“Proton Visualization” through Animation and Film | MIT news

Try depicting a proton – a minute, a positively charged particle in the nucleus of an atom – and you can imagine a familiar textbook scheme: a bundle of billiard balls depicting quarks and gluons. From the solid-sphere model first proposed by John Dalton in 1803 to Erwin Schrödinger in 1926. proposed quantum model, there are many physicists trying to visualize an invisible time zone.

Now, MIT Physics Professor Richard Milner, Jefferson Laboratory physicists Rolf Ent and Rick Yoshida, MIT documentary filmmakers Chris Boebel and Joe McMaster, and Sputnik animationJames LaPlante teamed up to portray the subatomic world in a new way. Submitted by MIT Center for the Arts, Science and Technology (CAST) and Jefferson Lab, Proton Visualization is an original proton animation for use in high school classrooms. Ent and Milner presented the animation during the contributing conversations American Physical Society in April. meeting She also shared it at a community event on April 20th. hosted by MIT Open Space Programming. In addition to the animation, a short documentary on the collaborative process is being created.

It’s a project that Milner and Ent have been thinking about at least since 2004, when Frank Wilczek, a physics professor at Hermann Feshbach at MIT, shared animation in his book. Nobel lecture about quantum chromodynamics (QCD), a theory that predicts the existence of gluons in a proton. “This topic is an extremely strong tribe of MIT,” Milner stressed, referring to the 1990s. Nobel Prize in Physics for Jerome Friedman and Henry Kendall of MIT and Richard Taylor of SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory for innovative research confirming quarks.

First, physicists thought animation would be an effective means of explaining the science of the electron ion accelerator, a new particle accelerator from the U.S. Department of Energy’s science bureau that many MIT faculty, including Milner, and colleagues such as Ent. , has long advocated. In addition, the still-present proton images are inherently limited, unable to depict the motion of quarks and gluons. “Essential parts of physics include animation, colors, destructive and extinct particles, quantum mechanics, relativity. It is almost impossible to convey this without animation, ”says Milner.

2017 Milner was introduced to Boebel and McMaster, who in turn took LaPlante on board. Milner “had the intuition to make the visualization of their collective work really valuable,” Boebel recalls. They applied for a scholarship from the CAST faculty, and the idea of ​​the team began to materialize.

“The CAST Selection Committee was intrigued by the challenge and realized it was a great opportunity to highlight the process of creating the proton animation and the animation itself,” said Leila Kinney, Executive Director of Art Initiatives and CAST. “True collaboration between art and science is more complex than science communication or science visualization projects. They involve the combination of different, equally complex ways of creative discovery and interpretive solutions. It is important to understand the possibilities, limitations, and choices that are already embedded in the visual technology chosen to visualize a proton. We hope that people will better understand visual interpretation as a way of critical research and knowledge creation, as well as physics.

Boebel and McMaster filmed the process of creating such a visual interpretation behind the scenes. “It’s always hard to bring together people who are truly world-class experts, but from different fields, and ask them to talk about something technical,” says McMaster of the team’s efforts to create something scientifically accurate and visually appealing. “It simply came to our notice then.

2020 February. animator LaPlante welcomed scientists and filmmakers at his studio in Maine to share his first idea. While understanding the world of quantum physics has been an exceptional challenge, he explains, “One of my strengths is that I don’t come from science. My goal is always to turn my head around science and then figure out, “Okay, what does that look like?”

For example, gluons have been described as springs, springs, and vacuums. LaPlante envisioned a particle that is thought to trap quarks like a tub of sludge. If you insert a closed fist and try to open it, an air vacuum is created, which will make it harder to open the fist because the surrounding material wants to screw it in.

LaPlante was also inspired to use his 3D software to “freeze time” and fly around a stationary proton, only physicists told him that such an interpretation was inaccurate based on the available data. Particle accelerators can only detect a two-dimensional cross-section. In fact, the researchers hope to capture the 3D data in the next phase of the experiment. They all faced the same border and the same issue, despite treating the subject completely differently.

“My art really has to do with clarity of communication and trying to get complex science into what is understandable,” says LaPlante. Much like in science, the wrong thing is often the first step in his artistic process. However, his first attempt at animation was a hit with physicists, and they excitedly refined the project using Zoom.

“There are two main handles that experimenters can choose when we scatter an electron from a proton at high energy,” Milner explains, much like the spatial resolution and shutter speed in photography. “Those camera variables have direct analogies in the mathematical language of the physicists describing this scatter.

As the “exposure time” decreases, or Bjorken-X, which is a physical interpretation of the part of the proton pulse carried by a single quark or gluon, QD is seen as an almost infinite number of gluons and quarks that move highly. fast. If the Bjorken-X is raised, you will see three red, blue and green stains or Valence quarks. When spatial resolution is collected, the proton transforms from a spherical object into a pancake object.

“We think we’ve invented a new tool,” says Milner. “There are key scientific questions: how are gluons distributed in the proton? Are they the same? Are they stuck together? We do not know. These are the main, fundamental issues that we can revitalize. We believe it is a means of communication, understanding and scientific discussion.

“It simply came to our notice then. I hope people around the world will see this and take inspiration.

Godfrey Kemp

"Bacon fanatic. Social media enthusiast. Music practitioner. Internet scholar. Incurable travel advocate. Wannabe web junkie. Coffeeaholic. Alcohol fanatic."

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