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An elementary or fundamental particle is a particle believed not to have substructure, a particle that is not made up of smaller particles. Therefore, an elementary particle is one of the basic building blocks of the Universe from which all other particles are made. In the Standard Model (a particle theory involving electromagnetic force and weak and strong interactions) there are three types of elementary particles:
- Quarks are particles that occur only in combinations of two quarks (mesons), three quarks (baryons) or even five (pentaquarks). The quark has a ½ spin and a 2/3 or a -1/3 charge. There are six flavors of quarks: up, down, charm, strange, top and bottom, that combined form other particles, like protons or neutrons.
- Leptons, unlike quarks, are found alone. They have a ½ spin and do not have strong interaction. There are two main classes of leptons: charged leptons (electron, muon and tau) and neutral leptons (electron neutrino, muon neutrino and tau neutrino). Electrons have the least mass of all the charged leptons. The heavier muons and taus will rapidly change into electrons through a process of particle decay: the transformation from a higher mass state to a lower mass state. Thus electrons are stable and the most common charged lepton in the universe, whereas muons and taus can only be produced in high energy collisions.
- Bosons are particles that act as carriers of the fundamental forces of nature. More specifically, elementary particles whose interactions are described by gauge theory exert forces on each other by the exchange of gauge bosons, usually as virtual particles. In the standard model there are three types of bosons: photons, W and Z bosons and gluons.
It is important to note that quarks and leptons are fermions: in contrast to bosons, only one fermion can occupy a particular quantum state at any given time. If more than one fermion occupies the same physical space, at least one property of each fermion, such as its spin, must be different. Moreover, every fermion has an antiparticle while bosons do not.
When I first read the article about Girls needing Physics to be “Dumbed Down” in order to attract women to physics, the first person I thought of was Lisa Randall.
Lisa Randall does her research in theoretical physics at Harvard University where she earned her undergraduate degree.
Her research involves elementary particles. You might have heard the words “Up Quark, Down Quark” or “Fermions” or now more popularly “Higgs-Boson” these are all part of what physicists call the “Standard Model” this is the stuff that stuff is made from. Her work concerns putting these particles together and complementing them with the known fundamental forces (there are four fundamental forces, weak/strong nuclear, electromagentic, and gravity. gravity being the weakest of the four).
Randall helped develop what is called the Randall–Sundrum model. A sort of geometric understanding of time and space in a 5th dimension. This model allows theoretical physicists to do away with an older model known as the large extra dimensional theories which try to help explain the weakness of gravity and how that relates to elementary particles.
Randall has written 2 books , the first Warped Passages: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Universe’s Hidden Dimensions is based heavily on her research. The second Knocking on Heavens Door is a love letter to science, describing the latest developments in physics and how we learn about the universe.
I don’t personally know how to bring more women into physics, I suspect that there are many possible reasons that there is such a low number, and it probably has to do with early childhood development (for example: boys like math, girls like reading attitudes). What I do know is that making physics classes “easier” for women to attract them is the wrong way to go about it. If you gave a boy and a girl a model of the universe and started telling them about it, I doubt either one would say “Oh this is very uninteresting and it is because of my gender”, in the same vein, neither one would say “Oh this is very uninteresting because it is hard”. Let’s try not discouraging little girls and boys in their interests and instead let them tell US what they are interested in. You’d be surprised how much kids want to learn when they are simply given the tools to do so.
An Elementary Beginning to Elementary Particles
I have a problem. I hardly reread what I type, and tend to forget what has been discussed. So forgive me if I repeat myself, if I repeat myself, if I repeat myself. I typically just tell people that I like emphasizing different principles or factoids when I do this. I also like tying everything together, and in physics, everything does tie together for the most part. I’m telling you guys this because I’ll be turning my attention to describing the fundamental particles and forces. Some of what I’ll be talking about, I’ve already mentioned (in detail or in passing) other things we’ve went over in detail, and I probably will go over them again, just from another angle. Anyway, this isn’t about my sporadic lecture methods, this is the beginning of the fundamental particles.
I hate to pull a Sheldon and Penny scene, but we must ask ourselves, what is physics? I’m kidding, but we really must start on a warm spring day in ancient Greece. Well, I imagine it as such anyway. The notion that the world is an arrangement of fundamental particles has a extended history. Around 400 B.C.E., the Greek philosophers Democritus and Leucippus proposed that mater is made of indivisible particles that the called atoms, a word derived from a- (not) and tomos (cut or divided). Not much else was produced in terms of scientific discovery and theory about this idea until the early 1800s when John Dalton discovered that many chemical phenomena could be described if atoms of each element are the basic, indivisible building blocks of matter.
Near the end of the 1800s it became obvious that atoms are not indivisible. The idea of an internal structure of the atom was being thrown around, and J. J. Thomson’s discovery of the electron in 1897 showed that atoms could be divided into charged particles. The hydrogen nucleus was identified as a proton, and in 1911 the sizes of nuclei were measured by Ernest Rutherford’s experiments. Quantum mechanics, including the Schrödinger equation (which describes how the quantum state of a physical system changes with time), flourished over the next 15 years. Scientists were on their way to understanding the principles that underline atomic structure.
The discovery of the neutron was a vital breakthrough. In 1930 Walther Bothe and Herbert Becker observed that when beryllium, boron, or lithium was blasted by αparticles from radioactive polonium, the material produced a radiation that had much greater penetrating power than the original α particles. Experiments by James Chadwick in 1932 revealed that the produced particles were electrically neutral, with mass roughly equal to that of the proton. Chadwick called these particles neutrons.
It was challenging to identify neutrons directly because they have no charge. Because of this, they yield little ionization when they pass through matter and they are not deflected by electric or magnetic fields. Neutrons usually interact only with nuclei; they can slow during scattering, and they can penetrate the nucleus. Slow neutrons can be detected by means of a nuclear reaction in which a neutron is absorbed and an α particle is produced. The expelled α particle is easy to identify because it is charged. Later experiments showed that neutrons, like protons and electrons, are spin-½ particles.
The neutron cleared up a mystery about the arrangement of the nucleus. Before 1930 the mass of a nucleus was believed to be due only to protons, but no one knew why the charge-to-mass ratio was not identical for all nuclides. It became obvious that all nuclides (except hydrogen-1) comprise both protons and neutrons. In fact, the proton, the neutron, and the electron are the building blocks of atoms. You may think that would be the end of the adventure. Sorry, this is barely the beginning. These are not the only particles, and they can do more than build atoms.
- Martin, B.R. and G. Shaw. “Particle Physics.” Wiley Publishing, 2008.
- Bauer, Wolfgang & Gary D. Westfall. “University Physics with Modern Physics.” McGraw-Hill, 2011.
- Basu, Dipak. “Dictionary of Material Science and High Energy Physics.” CRC Press LLC, 2001.
- “Four Elements” McGraw-Hill. “The four basic elements of ancient Greek philosophy, each shown with its regular polyhedron, as assigned by Plato.”
- “Scale Comparison” McGraw-Hill.
the elementary particles by michel houellebecq.
“things were very different for annabelle. last thing at night, before she went to sleep, she thought about michel and every morning she was overjoyed to see him again. if something funny of interesting happened at school, her first thought was of the moment she could tell michel about it. on days when they could not see each other for some reason, she was worried and upset. during the summer holidays (her family had a house in the gironde), she wrote to him every day. the letters were more sisterly than passionate, and her feelings more a glow than a consuming fire, but even if she were reluctant to admit it to herself, the truth slowly dawned on her: on the first try, without looking, without really wanting to, she had found true love. her first love was the real thing; there would not be another, and such a question did not even arise. it was a plausible scenario, according to mademoiselle âge tendre, but one did well to be cautious as it almost never happened. there were, however, rare almost miraculous cases that demonstrated it was possible. and if it happened to you it was the most wonderful thing in the whole world” (48).
“Back in his kitchen, he realized that belief in the free and rational determination of human actions—which was the natural foundation of democracy—and, in particular, the belief in the free and rational determination of individual political choices, probably resulted from a confusion between the concepts of freedom and unpredictability. The turbulence of a river flowing around the supporting pillars of a bridge is structurally unpredictable, but no one would think to describe it as being free.”—“The Elementary Particles” by Michel Houellebecq
Particles And Beyond
One of the hardest things we come across in our lives is defying what we are accustomed to. It is indeed true, especially when it is against to what is rational or reasonable for us. It is when it disagrees with our common sense. The history of Science proves this. It took 13 hundred years before the Astronomers and even the Catholic Church diverted to the now-accepted Heliocentrism. Ten hundred years has passed before the Atomic Theory was accepted by the Science community. Also, Albert Einstein came across many difficulties to dispute 300 years of Newtonian Physics with his Theory of Relativity. And this is still the same for us people, even up to present time. But not for me and not until today.
I put a hundred years of Einsteinian Physics and his famous E = mc² to question and doubt of its scientific validity. Today, ladies and gentlemen, I present to everyone here my Theory of Non-Dimensional Nature of Elementary Particles of Matter, or simply, the Theory of Non-Dimensionality.
In early 20th century, a new branch of Physics emerged after Einstein’s Theory of Relativity was hypothesised. Since then, the Relativity has been the sole foundation of Modern Physics, particularly the branches Relativistic Mechanics and Quantum Physics.
At present, many technologies are critically dependent on Relativistic Mechanics, a branch of Physics studying high velocities comparable to the speed of light or c. The understanding of the concepts behind these technologies only arose with the knowledge of Relativity.
Development of particle accelerators, devices that use electromagnetic fields to propel charged particles to high velocities, relies upon our knowledge of the effects of Relativity on the process. These accelerators are being used in different applications such as particle therapy, production of integrated circuits, several industrial processes and researches, and biomedical purposes. Moreover, low-energy accelerators are used in cathode ray tubes found in television sets and X-ray generators.
Similarly, Global Positioning System or GPS, a space-based satellite navigation system that provides location and time information, was conceptualised with the Relativity accounting for the corrections due to time dilation from high-velocity orbiting artificial satellites.
In addition, many modern technologies operate at a scale dealing with Quantum Physics, a study which deals with small distances or of the order of Planck constant, h.
For instance, technology of laser, a device that emits electromagnetic radiation or light through optical amplification, depends on the concepts we know in Quantum Physics and the Relativity Theory. As we all know, lasers have significant applications in the field of medicine, military and forensic science, and manufacturing, and are found in everyday products that we use, such as laser printers, CDs and other optical disks, and barcode scanners.
However, despite our understanding of Relativity, many phenomena apropos matter and universe are yet scientifically unexplained. Consequently, advancements in technology regress.
In another point of view, the Theory of Non-Dimensionality presents a different perception on the nature of the elementary particles that might provide scientific opportunities for unknown technologies that greatly depend on our understanding of Relativistic and Quantum Physics.
Several technologies that we presently consider to be surreal and fictional might be developed with supporting concrete scientific explanation from knowledge deduced from the theory. Time Travel, Star Trek’s Warp-Drive, Teleportation, and other applications that deal with infinitely high velocities, infinitely small distances, and time, might be actualised with a better understanding of the nature of the building blocks of matter. Additionally, unexplained phenomena in the universe, like Black Holes, Antimatter, and Universal Expansion, might, as well, be scientifically accounted for.
In comparison, the Theory of Non-Dimensionality presents a similarly redefined Relativity that accounts for the errors in Einstein’s Theory. Yet, it presents a distinctively new concept of the nature of elementary particles of matter.
In Einstein’s Relativity, it is assumed that no particle can be accelerated faster than the speed of light and can exist smaller than the Planck constant. However, as one of its dissimilarities with Relativity, the Theory of Non-Dimensionality views that the particles can be accelerated to an infinitely high velocity and exist in a non-dimensional nature. The latter disregards the asymptotic supposition of Relativity in line with recent experimental evidences debunking Einstein’s theory.
Also, in Relativity, elementary particles of matter are visualised to be physically dimensional and are finite in a given amount of matter. On the other hand, in Theory of Non-Dimensionality, the particles are considered to be physically intangible and are infinite in a matter. Geometrically, a non-dimensional elementary particle of a matter is comparable to the indefiniteness of infinitely many points in a line.
Lastly, elementary particles proposed by the Relativity Theory are physically perceivable limited by Planck constant. In contrast, in the Theory of Non-Dimensionality, the particles are dimensionless (i.e., they do not occupy space) and may be energy in nature.
With the great advancements and continuous developments in the study of Physics, and Science at large, I believe that one day this theory I presented to everyone will be a scientific law and govern all phenomena happening in our universe. Certainly, the study of the universe, the Science, is a never-ending process of asking and answering questions of absolute truth. It is an eternal battle with the norms we ourselves created to seek for the reality that sometimes opposes what we currently know. Yes, E might not be equal to mc² and might be proven true years from now. Yes, sooner or later, the Relativity Theory will be replaced with a new one that will better conceptualise the natural phenomena happening in the universe. With this, I want to end my speech leaving everyone the challenge to think without boundaries and to explore without doubts, and the excitement of what tomorrow’s Physics might bring us and to our hands.
This speech was delivered on 7 March 2012 at my Communication III class at University of the Philippines Diliman.