19 April, 2011

A-Z Blogging Challenge: P Stands For: Particle Physics

Particle physics is a branch of physics that studies the elementary particles of matter and radiation. An elementary, also called fundamental, particle is something that has no substructure--it is not made up of smaller particles. Particle physics is also referred to as high energy physics, because fundamental particles can only be created in particle accelerators.

The classification of all those particles comes together in the Standard Model. The Standard Model has only twelve basic particles, which are governed by four forces.

The twelve matter particles are quarks and leptons. Each of these two groups has "generations"--the first generation being lighter and more stable, while the second and third are heavier and less stable. All the stable matter in the universe belongs to the first generation, because the particles that make up the second and third decay to a more stable level.

There are up quarks, down quarks, charm quarks, strange quarks, top quarks, and bottom quarks, to cover the first six out of the twelve. Then there are electrons, electron-neutrinos, muons, muon-neutrinos, taus, and tau-neutrinos.

Three of the four fundamental forces--the strong force, the weak force, the electromagnetic force, and the gravitational force--result because of the exchange of "force carrier particles", called bosons. Fundamental particles exchange these bosons and, therefore, discrete amounts of energy. The strong force is carried by the gluon, the weak force by the W and Z bosons, the electromagnetic force by the photon, and the graviton for the gravitational force has not been found yet.

And last but not least, there's the Higgs Boson, which is thought to be the reason other particles have mass. The boson is predicted to exist because of the Standard Model, which incorporates it to solve problems with current theoretical physics. Experiments are being done to prove its existence with the Large Hadron Collider at CERN and Tevatron at Fermilab (although the latter will cease operations in September), but it has yet to be observed.


A very cool video on the Standard Model (the scientists probably explain things way better than I do):



What do you think of particle physics? Do you think the Higgs boson will be found soon? Do you think the Standard Model, despite the fact it omits gravity from the calculations, will continue to be the way scientists describe fundamental particles?

-----The Golden Eagle
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Nicole Mc said...

WOW. I. FEEL. DUMB. Not really, I'm okay with not understanding...but it amazes me that there are people that have figured this stuff out and can talk about it. BRAVO! It creates beautiful designs!! :)

Simon Kewin said...

It's such a fascinating area. To think that this stuff makes up the fundamental nature of our universe, our bodies etc. etc. Remarkable. I love the names too : quite poetic. "Charm quarks" has got to be the name of an SF Haiku magazine or something!

Cindy said...

Interesting, but way over my head. The models are beautiful!

Kris Kaumeyer said...

Fascinating. I never realized how much I don't understand about particles. Just wait until they find the graviton!

I need to read more into this. I've been interested in learning everything I can about energy. It all makes sense when realize everything is energy.

Great post!

Emily Rose said...

That was a great video! It's crazy to think about how much we still don't know.

laughingwolf said...

fun stuff, ge :)

Lauracea said...

Thank God you exist otherwise I'd never find out about this stuff that, I think, makes up EVERYTHING. I hated physics at school so I wish I'd had a teacher like you. Thanks for the Mariana link, btw - I managed to go there today without any trouble at all. It's all so fascinating. How I'd love to go down there!

Michael Di Gesu said...

HI, Golden,

Inspiring information. I am not familiar at all with physics and I have to admit science was never a favorite subject of mine. BUT, you do breathe new life into this subject for me.


Sylvia van Bruggen said...

Ahhh this is brilliant. I love physics, especially the quantum aspect, string theory and the like. Awesome.

I think they find the Higgs Bosen in my lifetime. Did you read that they discovered a particle recently?

The Golden Eagle said...

Nicole: It does create some great images. :)

Simon: I know--it's amazing to think that we're all made up of the same particles, and so is everything else.

LOL. I bet!

Cindy: I love looking at the images that results from science experiments. :D

Kris: I'm excited to think how close they are to new discoveries and what they might tell us about the universe . . .

Thank you!

Emily: There's so much yet to be learned--which is part of the reason it's so intriguing. :)

Laughingwolf: Fun stuff indeed. :D

Lauracea: Yup, it makes up everything in the universe--you, me, the nebulae, the galaxies . . .

You're very welcome!

I'd love to go down there, too. :)

Michael: You're welcome! I'm glad you find it inspiring.

Sylvia: I love it, too!

No, I hadn't heard that--I'll have to go look it up.

Sierra Gardner said...

AWESOME POST! For my undergrad research I did theoretical calculations to model the parton distributions of the theoretical pentaquark. I loved it! Thanks for reminding me how cool physics is.

Josh Hoyt said...

This is so cool. I love the science that you post about and even though I don't understand half of it it is fun to learn about. My brother is a physicist and he is always spouting off things I don't understand. Great video.

Old Kitty said...

Yay for particle physics!!! Long may the higgs boson continue to elude these wonderful physicists and their amazing machines!!!

Take care

Charles Gramlich said...

I thought "leptons" were the crunchy things that Leprechauns put int their salads.

li said...

Another cool post as usual, and you always do a great job of choosing photos to illustrate! Just beautiful.

Alleged Author said...

All I can say is thank God you had visual aids!! :P

Susan Fields said...

I agree with Cindy's comment - interesting, but way over my head! I'm impressed though - what an educational post.

Theresa Milstein said...

I'm feeling dumb and over my head as well. My two science courses in college: geology and evolution. No particle physics.

The photos are amazing!

The Golden Eagle said...

Sierra: Thank you! :)

To me, that actually sounds like a lot of fun.

Josh: Well, I'm glad you find something in these physics posts! I had worried I would bore people with all the science information . . .

Old Kitty: LOL. I bet a lot of scientists wish it wouldn't! But there is something intriguing about not being able to track down a particle.

Charles: Maybe they are . . . who know! :P

Li: Thank you!

Alleged: I thought a few visuals might add make it a little more interesting, instead of just a mass of text.

Susan: Not so sure it's that educational if it's confusing people. :P But thanks!

Theresa: Geology and evolution are two fascinating subjects! I love learning about them.