From quarks to life

I recently attended a workshop in Madrid with the title “Light quark masses and hadron physics and the sub-title “(from quarks to life)”. The sub-title hinted at a good portion of the agenda of the workshop, which was the impact of quark masses on anthropic reasoning. This comes about because if the light quark masses were slightly different, nuclei and atoms would not exist. This is a topic that I have been interested in, both early on with Dave Seckel and Steve Barr and recently with Thibault Damour. I talked on my work on heavy nuclei and the resulting anthropic constraints. You can find my talk and the others on the conference web page. This is getting to be almost a respectable subject.

The Vectorial version of the Standard Model

While teaching last year, I realized that there was a way to make the Standard Model with only vectorial currents, rather than the usual left-handed ones. The usual chiral structure then emerges after the Higgs separates the mass eigenstates into those with left-handed and right handed interactions. In some ways it is a beautiful variant, because the gauge sector does not have this crazy mix of left and right handed currents used in the usual standard model. I was astounded that this version was not known back in the early days of weak gauge theories, where there was a popular but less economical variant with separate left and right gauge bosons. After a good deal of literature searching, it turns out that it was uncovered by Montvey in the lattice community, but had not been treated much phenomenologically. With Mohamed Anber, and Ufuk Aydemir and Preema Pais, we have recently revisited the model. It has troubles with the electroweak precision parameters, but there is still a region of parameter space that is still viable. There is some possibility that the mirror particles involved can be viable dark matter candidates. The LHC should do a good job of probing this remaining parameters space.