Grand Unified Theory

CMS Higgs-event.jpg
Question dropshade.png
A Grand Unified Theory (GUT) is a model in particle physics in which, at high energy, the three gauge interactions of the Standard Model which define the electromagnetic, weak, and strong interactions, or forces, are merged into one single force. This unified interaction is characterized by one larger gauge symmetry and thus several force carriers, but one unified coupling constant. If Grand Unification is realized in nature, there is the possibility of a grand unification epoch in the early universe in which the fundamental forces are not yet distinct.

Models that do not unify all interactions using one simple group as the gauge symmetry, but do so using semisimple groups, can exhibit similar properties and are sometimes referred to as Grand Unified Theories as well.

Unifying gravity with the other three interactions would provide a theory of everything (TOE), rather than a GUT. Nevertheless, GUTs are often seen as an intermediate step towards a TOE.

The novel particles predicted by GUT models are expected to have masses around the GUT scale[clarification needed]—just a few orders of magnitude below the Planck scale—and so will be well beyond the reach of any foreseen particle collider experiments. Therefore, the particles predicted by GUT models will be unable to be observed directly and instead the effects of grand unification might be detected through indirect observations such as proton decay, electric dipole moments of elementary particles, or the properties of neutrinos.[1] Some GUTs, such as the Pati-Salam model, predict the existence of magnetic monopoles.

GUT models which aim to be completely realistic are quite complicated, even compared to the Standard Model, because they need to introduce additional fields and interactions, or even additional dimensions of space. The main reason for this complexity lies in the difficulty of reproducing the observed fermion masses and mixing angles which may be related to an existence of some additional family symmetries beyond the conventional GUT models. Due to this difficulty, and due to the lack of any observed effect of grand unification so far, there is no generally accepted GUT model.

Historically, the first true GUT which was based on the simple Lie group SU(5), was proposed by Howard Georgi and Sheldon Glashow in 1974.[2] The Georgi–Glashow model was preceded by the semisimple Lie algebra Pati–Salam model by Abdus Salam and Jogesh Pati,[3] who pioneered the idea to unify gauge interactions.

The acronym GUT was first coined in 1978 by CERN researchers John Ellis, Andrzej Buras, Mary K. Gaillard, and Dimitri Nanopoulos, however in the final version of their paper[4] they opted for the less anatomical GUM (Grand Unification Mass). Nanopoulos later that year was the first to use[5] the acronym in a paper.[6]

The fact that the electric charges of electrons and protons seem to cancel each other exactly to extreme precision is essential for the existence of the macroscopic world as we know it, but this important property of elementary particles is not explained in the Standard Model of particle physics. While the description of strong and weak interactions within the Standard Model is based on gauge symmetries governed by the simple symmetry groups SU(3) and SU(2) which allow only discrete charges, the remaining component, the weak hypercharge interaction is described by an abelian symmetry U(1) which in principle allows for arbitrary charge assignments.[note 1] The observed charge quantization, namely the fact that all known elementary particles carry electric charges which appear to be exact multiples of ⅓ of the "elementary" charge, has led to the idea that hypercharge interactions and possibly the strong and weak interactions might be embedded in one Grand Unified interaction described by a single, larger simple symmetry group containing the Standard Model. This would automatically predict the quantized nature and values of all elementary particle charges. Since this also results in a prediction for the relative strengths of the fundamental interactions which we observe, in particular the weak mixing angle, Grand Unification ideally reduces the number of independent input parameters, but is also constrained by observations.

This page was last edited on 25 June 2018, at 14:12 (UTC).
Reference: under CC BY-SA license.

Related Topics

Recently Viewed