Little Tommy

Who is Little Tommy? Well, Little Tommy is an archetype. He is a the typical human. I will abbreviate his name with L.M. because there are two M’s in the name “Tommy” and it sounds more like it. If you want, M comes from “M-theory”… Well, L.M. is the 5 years old human that gains lots of visual information about the world around him and interprets it in a naive way. LM is the 5 years old that when facing the situation of having the water from the same cup poured into two cylinder tubes, one tall and thin, the other thick and short, he will tell you there is more water in the tall and thin cylinder. Well, you get the idea: it is the standard human that misinterprets the information he has gathered from the environment. It is the human that fooled himself… He is a professor at Harvard or MIT or a person working in some branches of the industry, it doesn’t really matter what his/her age is in reality. The model that best represents any human facing new surprising facts is the model of Little Tommy. He is very interested in finding out new things and classifying them, putting them into strict categories and separating them logically. “Blue is not Red” will be a very simple phrase that he will tell you in a very clear way. One situation is different from another and they cannot be mixed in any way, etc. These are the observations of Little Tommy. He realizes there are objects having some properties and suddenly sees the objects behaving differently and is very surprised by this observation but will come to some interpretations that have nothing to do with reality but more with his own comfort about the information he possesses.

Now, that we know Little Tommy we can start explaining him some new facts and see what he makes out of them. A long time ago people knew only very few particles and they were pretty fundamental for them. They knew the proton, the neutron and maybe the electron, and the positron. They observed that the proton and the neutron are very similar and disregarding some small differences they are almost the same thing. They imagined they found a “new symmetry of nature”… Little Tommy was fascinated by this symmetry and tried to apply it obviously everywhere. It worked quite well at the beginning but suddenly some new events appeared that completely disregarded this model. Some of them were called “weak interactions” others were called “Isospin symmetry breaking” and one had to construct models that were to make the description of these things possible in a general way. This is possible and was done, more or less, but not by Little Tommy… it was obviously someone else who discovered how to speak meaningfully about weak and strong interactions and Little Tommy learned the methods and repeated them until he found something else that was completely unexpected… As we do not speak about the same Little Tommy because several generations passed between these events we always have Little Tommies around that have the facts but don’t have the “clues” about what happens around them.


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