Science Is Weird Post #1
What are they?
Quarks are elementary particles. They have never been directly observed, and they’re never isolated, so no one really knows things about what they are really like on their own. People hae only seen them grouped together in hadrons. Quarks are available in six flavours (or types): up, down, strange, charm, bottom, and top. The up quark is the lightest quark, so light, in fact, that its bare mass cannot actually be calculated because of relativity. Down quarks are the second lightest, and combine with up quarks to form protons and neutrons. The strange quark, formerly called the sideways quark, carried strangeness (hence the name). This means they decay through weak interaction and so have longer lives than other particles. (I hope I haven’t lost you, as I’ve nearly lost myself.) Charm quarks are great at parties. Kidding. They are quarks that, when together, form charmed particles, like D mesons. (Mesons are also hadrons.) Bottom quarks are also known as beauty quarks, and together with charms quarks, give us women. Kidding again. But bottom quarks are actually able to decay into an up or charm quark. They have a bare mass of about four times that of a proton. They were discovered when collisions led to bottomonium states (don’t laugh). And finally, top quarks are the most massive of all the elementary particles, and are also known as truth quarks (quarks are also, along with being the smallest, are the most virtuous of elementary particles). (That was another joke.) These top quarks to not form hadrons, as their lives are too short, but they do decay into W bosons and bottom quarks. Huge amounts of energy are needed to create them, so don’t try it at home. Only two accelerators have been able to bring about top quarks.
What do they do?
They (as I said earlier) form hadrons, like protons or neutrons. Which is pretty much all that really matters about them. If you’re at the point in your education where you are learning that there is nothing at ALL smaller than an atom (which I suppose is only primary school), you can shock and amaze your instructors by saying ‘Well, atoms are made up of subatomic particles called hadrons, and those still are made up of quarks, which are the smallest particle currently known!’ But you might be called a smart-alec and told to be quiet. and not overthink things.
Why are you telling me?
Quarks are cool! I thought you wanted to learn things! And also, I have a surprising amount of quark jokes. Now you’ll get them.