Saturday, March 05, 2016

A new Ghostbuster is a female hep-ph physicist

LHC: LHC started to wake up. Powering tests began today. According to the 2016 schedule, beam should return on Tuesday, March 29th (after Easter).
Ghostbusters was a fun movie.

It was released in 1984 and in Czechoslovakia, we weren't quite bombarded by all the new Hollywood production although we've seen many more Western movies than most Westerners imagine. I mostly knew Ghostbusters because of the Ghostbusters Commodore 64 game.

The sound still makes me excited – C64's sound chip was unusually good. But it's funny what sort of games looked high tech 32 years ago. It seems to me that this game was running in the 320 x 200 resolution which was needed for the full independent 16-color graphic regime. (C64 also had the sprites etc., I did lots of programming using all these special things.)

On the other hand, I am amazed that the game was released on the same year as the film.

At any rate, the 32-year-old movie will be rebooted. In July 2016, new Ghostbusters film will be released. The budget is about $150 million.

You may check the YouTube page to see that the reactions have so far been catastrophic. Out of 15 million viewers, the trailer has received 150,000 positive votes and 250,000 negative votes. Maybe, most of the people dislike that the new ghostbusters are women ghostbusters.

I find this feminization fun and refreshing. Two of the ghostbusters are some crackpot paranormal writers (one of them was affiliated with Columbia University), one is a subway worker, and the remaining one is a "nuclear engineer" (starred by Kristin Wiig). However, unless I have confused the characters, she is really a high energy phenomenologist, a Lisa Randall of a sort. She's told that "no one is better in quantum physics than you" and I tend to believe that such people simply can't work as nuclear engineers. ;-)

Maybe she's a female Wilczek.

Go to 1:05 of the trailer. In a second, you will see a whiteboard with lots of equations.

This screenshot was taken from where a more detailed version of this blog post appeared. You may see some Feynman diagrams for the proton decay as well as the beta-function for non-Abelian, \(SU(N)\) Yang-Mills theory.

It's clearly a legitimate whiteboard. The filmmakers asked some physicists to create an authentic set of equations that could appear on researchers' whiteboards – although this one could be more likely to appear in a graduate course – and they got what they needed. Even when technical and kosher physics things appear in a movie, they usually play no role. I think that all the filmmakers assume – and most viewers are also allowed to assume – that all these equations are just some gibberish that is meant to make the film look more sciency but this gibberish could be completely replaced by some totally different gibberish and the movie would be unaffected. ;-)

Well, at least, you will be able to hear that the proton is a bound state of the \(u,u,d\) quarks, there is some fine-structure constant, and the proton decay violates a fundamental symmetry of Nature. I guess that they mean the baryon number which particle physicists don't consider fundamental – on the contrary, the baryon number is the most canonical example of an accidental symmetry and the adjective "accidental" is pretty much equivalent to "non-fundamental".

I originally thought that the particle physicist who knew these beta-functions was a Columbia professor but my understanding is that they are two different women and the Columbia professor is a much more paranormal one.

Update: Oops, now I think that the particle physicist is Erin Gilbert (starred as Kristen Wiig) and she is affiliated with Columbia University, and the nuclear engineer is a different lady. It's bizarre because Erin Gilbert has co-authored a book with the paranormal author Abby Yates. Maybe it's not so shocking, after all. If Columbia University finds it OK to employ a hardcore anti-physics crackpot such as Peter Woit as a lecturer of mathematics if not physics, it may employ women who believe in the paranormal phenomena as particle physics professors, too.

Bill Zajc, Hollywood may have noticed what kind of mess you can find at your institution... Fortunately for you, I am afraid that no viewer gives a damn. :-)

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