## March 21, 2021

### Cosmic Strings in the Standard Model

Over at the n-Category Café, John Baez is making a big deal of the fact that the global form of the Standard Model gauge group is $G = (SU(3)\times SU(2)\times U(1))/N$ where $N$ is the $\mathbb{Z}_6$ subgroup of the center of $G'=SU(3)\times SU(2)\times U(1)$ generated by the element $\left(e^{2\pi i/3}\mathbb{1},-\mathbb{1},e^{2\pi i/6}\right)$.

The global form of the gauge group has various interesting topological effects. For instance, the fact that the center of the gauge group is $Z(G)= U(1)$, rather than $Z(G')=U(1)\times \mathbb{Z}_6$, determines the global 1-form symmetry of the theory. It also determines the presence or absence of various topological defects (in particular, cosmic strings). I pointed this out, but a proper explanation deserved a post of its own.

None of this is new. I’m pretty sure I spent a sunny afternoon in the summer of 1982 on the terrace of Café Pamplona doing this calculation. (As any incoming graduate student should do, I spent many a sunny afternoon at a café doing this and similar calculations.)