geek science

The particle zoo of 400 or so subatomic particles

Via Wikipedia:

In particle physics, the term particle zoo[1][2] is used colloquially to describe a relatively extensive list of the then known “elementary particles” that almost look like hundreds of species in the zoo.

In the history of particle physics, the situation was particularly confusing in the late 1960s. Before the discovery of quarks, hundreds of strongly interacting particles (hadrons) were known. It was later discovered that they were not elementary particles, but rather composites of the quarks. The set of particles believed today to be elementary is known as the Standard Model.

Michel van Biezen from explains how many particles there are and what they do. Of the more than 400 subatomic particles most of the matter is created by a number of 20 or so elementary subatomic particles. The rest are composite particles.

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How does the standard model of particle physics look like?


It looks like in the image from above. Without an extensive knowledge of math and physics you can’t possible hope to comprehend what it says.

This is why science is hard: it takes you decades to master the exact sciences and only then you can get a good picture of what the scientists are saying or doing.

The hard part is conveying their messages to the general public. Since there are many math and physics gaps in the knowledge the public has the scientists have a truly hard time in explaining what the heck is happening inside a particle collider.

Sometimes analogies are used, but they are poor approximations which lead to questions that make no sense to the scientists, but seem reasonable to the general public.

This is why the idea of light being a wave or the idea that electrons orbit around the nucleus of the atom are approximations, but do not convey the entire truth as we, the ones from the general public, do not have the math and physics knowledge to truly understand what happens in there.

The explanations of the formula from above can be read on Wikipedia.

Image via Cristian Român.

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How can you obtain particles directly from light?

Well, you can do that in certain circumstances. Physics is amazing and, if you learn about the gamma photons, light waves that have very intense energies, you can generate an electron and an positron.

Watch in the video from above what calculations are necessary in order to obtain such particles directly from light. Now you wanna be a scientist? 😀

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Higgs Boson: how do we calculate its mass

It turns out that the Higgs Boson is really an allusive particle which is 125 times more massive than the protons. The actual calculations of the mass of the Higgs Bosson are quite complicated, but the principle is outlined in the video above, where Dr. Don Lincoln , from Fermilab, explains how it is that the theory predicts that the mass is so large and gives at least one possible theoretical idea that might solve the problem.

From the video description:

With the discovery of what looks to be the Higgs boson, LHC researchers are turning their attention to the next big question, which is the predicted mass of the newly discovered particles. When the effects of quantum mechanics is taken into account, the mass of the Higgs boson should be incredibly high…perhaps upwards of a quadrillion times higher than what was observed.

Dr. Don Lincoln also asks: why is the HJiggs Bosson so light?