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Suppose you're ambitious enough to try to describe everything in the observable universe
in one single mathematical equation.
DONE.
OK, so that doesn't include gravity or a few other little things… but the point is, this
equation describes, with incredible precision, what the earth is made of, what keeps the
sun burning, what allows us to breath, taste, mow the lawn, blow things up, and watch internet
videos… all in one equation.
And it's humbly called "The Standard Model" - because even when they discover the most
accurate scientific theory known to man, physicists are modest.
Now, the universe is a pretty big place (maybe even infinitely big), so it's reasonable to
think that you might need a lot more than just one equation to describe it all - so
why is the standard model so simple?
For starters, it's more like a recipe - and just as a recipe for cake assumes you already
know how to sift flour, beat egg whites, build an oven and grow wheat, this equation assumes
you already know about path integrals, gauge theories and so on - so there's a lot more
than meets the eye.
As for why an incredibly small set of mathematical rules appear to govern the universe?
Well, that's a deep and unanswered question.
But the data show that math is the language of the cosmos – pick a few elementary particles,
set them on a high-energy collision course, and BAM!
When the sparks fly, the standard model will describe the fireworks – to twelve-decimal
places of precision!
Anyway, in the next few MinutePhysics videos we'll explain all sorts of the cool ingredients
that make up the standard model, like quantum fields, fundamental forces, quarks, gluons,
ghost particles, and of course, the higgs field.
It's an ambitious task, and I hope you're ready for it!