Jaron’s Blog

Coffee Hour: Aesop’s Letters to the Editor

The Crow and the Pitcher

A Crow, half-dead with thirst, came upon a Pitcher which had once been full of water; but when the Crow put its beak into the mouth of the Pitcher he found that only very little water was left in it, and that he could not reach far enough down to get at it.

He tried, and he tried, but at last had to give up in despair.

Then a thought came to him, and he took a pebble and dropped it into the Pitcher.

Then he took another pebble and dropped it into the Pitcher.

Then he took another pebble and dropped that into the Pitcher.

Then he took another pebble and dropped that into the Pitcher.

Then he took another pebble and dropped that into the Pitcher.

Then he took another pebble and dropped that into the Pitcher.

At last, at last, he saw the water mount up near him, and after casting in a few more pebbles he was able to quench his thirst and save his life.

The Moral: the volume of water in the Pitcher is equal to the volume of the Pitcher minus the volume of nine pebbles.

The Fox and the Grapes

One hot summer’s day a Fox was strolling through an orchard till he came to a bunch of Grapes just ripening on a vine which had been trained over a lofty branch.

“Just the thing to quench my thirst,” quoth he.

Drawing back a few paces, he took a run and a jump, and just missed the bunch.

Turning round again with a One, Two, Three, he jumped up, but with no greater success.

Again and again he tried after the tempting morsel, but at last had to give it up, and walked away with his nose in the air, saying:

“I am sure they are sour.”

The Moral: The bunch of Grapes is higher than one half times the Fox’s maximum jumping speed squared, divided by the gravitational acceleration at the Earth’s surface,

The Lion’s Share

The Lion went once a-hunting along with the Fox, the Jackal, and the Wolf.

They hunted and they hunted till at last they surprised a Stag, and soon took its life.

Then came the question how the spoil should be divided.

“Quarter me this Stag,” roared the Lion; so the other animals skinned it and cut it into four parts.

Then the Lion took his stand in front of the carcass and pronounced judgment: “The first quarter is for me in my capacity as King of Beasts; the second is mine as arbiter; another share comes to me for my part in the chase; and as for the fourth quarter, well, as for that, I should like to see which of you will dare to lay a paw upon it.”

“Humph,” grumbled the Fox as he walked away with his tail between his legs; but he spoke in a low growl:

“Diversity programs may give the appearance of equality, but effective change will only come when institutional power is redistributed.”

The Physicist, the Standard Model, and the Higgs

A Physicist and her Standard Model were once going with the Higgs to publish.

As they were walking along a countryman passed them and said: “You fools, the Higgs mass is completely unnatural.”

So the Physicist removed the bare mass term from the Higgs field and they went on their way.

But soon they passed a group of men, one of whom said: “See that Standard Model with massless Higgs, the Weinberg-Coleman mechanism alone doesn’t produce enough mass to explain what is seen experimentally.”

So the Physicist added some additional Higgs fields with no bare mass.

But they hadn’t gone far when they passed two women, one of whom said to the other: “Shame on that terrible theory to predict multiple Higgs when only one is observed at the LHC.”

Well, the Physicist didn’t know what to do, but at last she took her Theory up and scribbled something about extra dimensions.

By this time they had come to the journal, and the passers-by began to jeer and point at them.

The Physicist stopped and asked what they were scoffing at.

They said: “Aren’t you ashamed of yourself for forcing in extra dimensions to your poor theory when we clearly live in only 3 + 1?”

The Physicist and the Theory stopped and tried to think what to do.

They thought and they thought, till at last they took a handful of bosonic partners, matched their couplings to the Higgs, and made the Standard Model supersymmetric.

They went along amid the laughter of all who met them till they came to the Referees, when the Theory, predicting supersymmetric partners of mass smaller than 1 TeV, had publication rejected because they were not seen in the latest LHC run.

In the process the Theory, weighed down by unobserved particles, was unrecoverable.

“That will teach you,” said an old man who had followed them:

“Naturalness of the Higgs mass is an unresolved problem in high energy physics”.

This post originally appeared in an email announcing the Cornell physics graduate student coffee hour.