- Three is close to one and also close to many.
Three Wise Men from the East
Those three wise men met King Herod first and asked where the
baby king was. Herod then became upset after hearing that someone
other than himself is the king. He ordered all new-born babies
to be killed. Many physicists behave like King Herod, and I
formulated the concept of Herod
Complex in order to describe the environment of the physics
community. It is much easier to live in the physics world if you
understand this word.
Three Graces according to Greek MythologyGreeks expected beauty, charm, and creativity from a women. They expressed this desire by constructing a stone structure consisting of three women. This concept re-appeared in Renaissance paintings.
- This is a statue of the
Three Graces in the Louvre Museum in Paris. In Greek mythology,
they are the goddesses of charm, beauty, and creativity.
- Another statue at the Louvre.
- This neo-classical statue in the Indianapolis Art Museum, USA (image from the public domain).
- This statue of three Roman ladies in the Caesars Park, Las Vegas, USA.
- Three ladies standing at the Central Park in Riga (Latvia). Modern sculpture!
- Sandro Botticheli's painting of the Three
Women is in the Uffizi Museum of Florence (image from the public domain).
- This wall paining is among the precious collections from the Pompeii ruins (image from the public domain).
- Raphael Painting of the Three Graces is from the Conde Museum in Chantilly, France (image from the public domain).
- This painting by Paul Ruebens is in the Prado Museum in Madrid (image from the public domain).
- Three Graces by Carle Van Loo. This
image is from the Wikipedia page
Religious, Social and Other Issues Issues
- Holy Trinity
is the most important theological issue in Christinity. I have many friends
who are Christian ministers. They talk about Trinity very often, but
I do not follow their theoretical logic. To me, the most important is how
their Trinity came from Greek tradition.
Christian engraving constructed in 350 AD. This art work is now in the
In ancient Greece, in the 5th century BC (before Socrates), Leucippus and Democritus developed the concept of atoms. They were the first Greek scientists. According to them, everything in this world consists of more fundamental elements.
On the other hand, Greek artists liked three elements as seen from their sculptures of three women. During the Roman period, Christians changed those women to God, Adam and Eve. Then other sets of three people.
After some years, Christians combined the Greek concept of atom and Greek artistic number of three to come up with the present ideology of Holy Trinity. God consists of three elements, namely Holy Father, Holy Son, and Holy Ghost. With this definition, Christianity became the dominant religion in the the world.
- Abraham Lincoln was a very important person for the United States and for
the world. He defined democracy in terms of three words, namely
- of the people,
- by the people,
- for the people.
I learned these words while I was a high-school student in Korea. I reproduced them in my freshman English class at the Carnegie Tech (now called CMU) in 1954. My teacher became very happy and asked me where I learned these words. I had very happy undergraduate years (1954-58) in Pittsburgh. Click here for my Pittsburgh page.
Three Branches of Government. The concept of two branches of
government was developed by Romans before Julius Caesar. But the idea
of three branches of government was formulated by French
philosopher named Charles de Secondat (1689-1755), commonly known as
Earl Warren, Chief Justice of the United States (1953-69).
There is at least one country where the judicial branch of the government is functioning properly. In the United States, the Supreme Court made a number of history-making decisions in the past. Perhaps the most important decision made during the 20th century was the case of Brown v. Board of Education. In 1954, the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Earl Warren ruled that the racial segregation in public schools is unconstitutional. Americans had to obey this law.
Elvis and Marilyn at the Brasserie New York in Metz, France. The United
States is respected everywhere in the world.
Click here for more photos from this brasserie.
In 2000, the Supreme Court played the key role in deciding who would be the president for the four-year period starting from 2001. In 2012, the Court made a major ruling which both presidential candidates had to obey.
These days, it does not sound natural when American politicians tell other countries how to run their own affairs. Yet, the United States is respected everywhere in the the world, largely because the country's government consists of three independent branches.
- Sun Yat-sen
(1866-1925) was the Chinese revolutionary who started changing the
Chinese government into a people-oriented institution. Chinese had
the emperor-centered government since Emperor Chin (259-210 BC). I had
a photo with him
when I was in Xian (China) in 2011.
He worked with his Three Principles of the People, known as the Sam-Min Doctrine. He spent many years in the Western world including the United States before formulating his own ideology.
Again the key word is Three. I do not know how he got this number. It is possible that he got this number from the Holy Trinity from Christianity, three branches of the U.S. government, and/or from Chinese philosophy. Please let us know if you can say more about this subject.
- One army unit consists of three sub-units. This is the basic formula for
the army organization. One division consists of three regiments. There are
three battalions in one regiment. One battalion consists of three companies.
Napoleon used this system to built his Grand Army. These days, most of the
countries in the world use this Napoleonic system, perhaps with some variations.
This 3-3-3- concept was developed in France before Napoleon, but after Genghis Khan. Genghis used a ten-unit system, presumably because it was easy to count horses using the decimal system. 10 horses, 100 horses, 1000 horses, --.
- Three-phase Power
The AC power transmission system was developed Nikola Tesla and an American
capitalist named George Westinghouse.
Click here for the story.
I do not know who invented the three-phase transmission. The single-phase transmission requires two wires. It requires one additional wire for the three-phase transmission (50 % increase), but the power transmission rate becomes tripled (200 % increase). Click here for a graphical illustration of the difference between the single-phase AC and the three-phase AC.
Three in Physics
- Quark Model.
Every physicist knows what the quark model is, and how this model was
developed from the particle spectra. The first phase of this model
is based on three quarks. The central figure for formulating
this "atomic theory" was Murray Gell-Mann, who received his 1969 Nobel Prize.
My wife once asked a very naive question to Gell-Mann at one of the parties. His answer was very simple. He said "it is a matter of understanding." I assume that it was easier for him to understand the particle spectrum with three elements. Here again the magic number is three.
- Standard Model
Physicists in the 20th Century inherited gravitational force and electromagnetic
force from the previous centuries. They then discovered two additional forces,
namely strong and weak interactions. Seeing how Maxwell combined electric
and magnetic forces, Weinberg, Salam, and Glashow constructed a theory
of electro-weak interaction.
This table is from the Wikipedia page on the standard model.
In particle physics, forces between two particles are generated by exchange of particles. For instance, electromagnetic interaction is generated by the exchange of a photon. In order to formulate the interaction between the quarks (strong integration) and the leptons (weak interaction), physicists needed boson called "Higgs boson."
Since it seemed impossible to detect this boson, one distinguished American physicist called it "godxxx" particle. Then this became "God particle."
Then how close is this godxxx or God particle to God as we understand? In completing the standard model, the third-generation quarks and leptons were essential. Here again, the magic number is three. In view of the historical developments listed above, it is appropriate to call this number (three) God's number. Indeed, Higgs boson is neither "godxxx particle" nor "God particle," it is a product of God's number.
Shoichi Sakata (left) and Hideki Yukawa (1965). Courtesy of the
E. Segre Visual Archives of AIP.
- Sakata and his Nagoya School
It was a Japanese physicist named shoichi Sakata who introduced the concept
of three elements to particle physics in 1956. His elements are three quarks in
Gell-Mann's quark model with integer charges.
He became a professor at Nagoya University in 1942 and stayed there until his death in 1970. His original ideas, he influenced many Japanese physicists, and his influence is known "Nagoya School" of thought. The 2008 Nobel laureates Yoichiro Nambu, Toshihide Maskawa, and Makoto Kobayashi came from the Nagoya school. Needless to say, they received the prize for their role in completing the standard model.
Here, the question is how Sakata came up with three elements. One of my Japanese friends once explained to me. He said Sakata's idea came from his oriental philosophy, but I forgot the details. If I am forced to dig out its oriental origin, I could mention the six walls of the universe in Taoism. Those six walls are heaven, earth, east, west, north, and south.
This means that the universe is three-dimensional. According to Paul A. M. Dirac, the Western world used to be two-dimensional with a flat earth surface. The vertical direction was discovered Isaac Newton with his apple. Here is a photo of Newton with his apple at London's Kensington Gardens. I am also in this photo.
Yukawa with Feynman in Kyoto (1954). Courtesy of Saito Hayakawa.
- Yukawa and Feynman. The proton is a
state of three quarks. Thus, it has a space-time extension. It has a non-zero
radius. The question is how to deal with this problem in a Lorentz-covariant
manner. How would the proton look when it flies with a speed very close to the
velocity of light. Feynman proposed a parton picture to deal with the problem.
Then, are the quark model and the parton model two limiting cases of one
Lorentz-covariant entity? Something to think about.
You may Click here to hear some stories about this subject.
Yuval Ne'eman (1988).
If God created physicists first,
we should be able to extend our quark model to every good thing in the world.
- Three grace of Greece: quark model of an ideal woman.
- The Holy Trinity: quark model of God. For saying this, I could become a
sinner to some of my religious friends. They may stone me to death.
- Functioning democracy: quark model of government.
- Sun Yatsen's Sam-Min Doctrine: quark model of change from monarchy to democracy.
- Napoleon's army: quark model of organization.
- Three-phase Ac: quark model of economy.
- I will keep adding new items to this list. I spent only two days to construct this page. This page still could contain many minor errors. Like you, I start writing a paper when I do not have ideas. The same can be said about making a webpage. Please do not hesitate to send me you comments and criticisms.