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Open Problems

Our present understanding of nature is far from complete.

In addition to unexplained observed phenomena, like dark matter or dark energy, there are also many technical problems in our existing theories. An example for such a technical problem is the hierarchy problem.

Moreover, there are things that we can describe but do not understand. These are not really problems but rather puzzles. Examples are the still not understood masses and mixing angles of the elementary particles.

Lists of Open Problems


The laws of physics seem to be composed out of five fundamental ingredients:

  • 1 Identical particles.
  • 2 Gauge interactions.
  • 3 Fermi statistics.
  • 4 Chiral fermions.
  • 5 Gravity.

The question is whether one can find a “deeper structure” that gives rise to all five of these phenomena. In addition to being consistent with our current understanding of the universe, such a structure would be quite appealing from a theoretical point of view: it would unify and explain the origin of these seemingly mysterious and disconnected phenomena. The U(/1)xSU(2)xSU(3) Standard Model fails to provide such a complete story for even the first four phenomena. Although it describes identical particles, gauge interactions, Fermi statistics, and chiral fermions in a single theory, each of these components are introduced independently and by hand. For example, field theory is introduced to explain identical particles, vector gauge fields are introduced to describe gauge interactions Yang and Mills, 1954, and anticommuting fields are introduced to explain Fermi statistics. One wonders—where do these mysterious gauge symmetries and anticommuting fields come from? Why does nature choose such peculiar things as fermions and gauge bosons to describe itself?

Colloquium: Photons and electrons as emergent phenomena Michael Levin and Xiao-Gang Wen

open_problems.txt · Last modified: 2017/12/04 07:01 (external edit)