22 December 2004

"I don't remember you looking quite so much like Mr. Peanut made from olive pits."

if you can read this, you're the last person alive using a command-line browser
So what the hell is this thing, anyway? And why the hell am I using it for a portrait? It's a stylized version of something called a penguin diagram, a class of Feynman path used in quantum chromodynamics (not to be confused with Quantum Christodynamics). As for why I'm using it as a portrait... Read the story behind it, as told by John Ellis, the physicist who coined the term, and all will become clear (or not):
Mary K. (Gaillard), Dimitri (Nanopoulos) and I first got interested in what are now called penguin diagrams while we were studying CP violation in the Standard Model in 1976... The penguin name came in 1977, as follows.
In the spring of 1977, Mike Chanowitz, Mary K and I wrote a paper on GUTs predicting the b quark mass before it was found. When it was found a few weeks later, Mary K, Dimitri, Serge Rudaz and I immediately started working on its phenomenology. That summer, there was a student at CERN, Melissa Franklin who is now an experimentalist at Harvard. One evening, she, I and Serge went to a pub, and she and I started a game of darts. We made a bet that if I lost I had to put the word penguin into my next paper. She actually left the darts game before the end, and was replaced by Serge, who beat me. Nevertheless, I felt obligated to carry out the conditions of the bet.
For some time, it was not clear to me how to get the word into this b quark paper that we were writing at the time. Then, one evening, after working at CERN, I stopped on my way back to my apartment to visit some friends living in Meyrin where I smoked some illegal substance. Later, when I got back to my apartment and continued working on our paper, I had a sudden flash that the famous diagrams look like penguins. So we put the name into our paper, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Exerpted from the ITEP 1995 Lectures in Particle Physics (hep-ph/9510397)


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