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Extraordinarily Small

Updated on January 13, 2019
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I just love physics and therefore I have decided to start an article series exploring the depths of the scientific world that awaits us.

Smallness is subversive....

Let’s take a piece of rectangular paper now split I in half and keep splitting in half, at what point does it stop, well as far as we know the smallest units of matter are known as “Elementary Particles”. Particles interact with each other according a theory called the Standard Model. The standard model also governs how the particles move and behave. A molecule is the smallest unit of any chemical compound and an atom is the smallest unit of any element in the periodic table (which contains all elements in matter). But atom is not the smallest unit of matter, it is made up of a tiny dense nucleus with electrons surrounding it (electron is negatively charged), electron was the first component of the standard model to be discovered. Electrons are bound to the nucleus of an atom by electromagnetism, they attract each other by exchanging photons (quanta of light, and also one of the components of the standard model) that carry the electromagnetic force. Nucleus has more secrets to reveal, it contains “Protons” (positively charged particle) and “Neutrons” (Neutral or with no charge). Protons and Neutrons are both made up of Quarks, a proton contains 2 up quarks and 1 down quark, while the neutron contains 2 down quarks and 1 up quark. Electrons with Protons and Neutrons is what all of observable universe is made up of. The protons and neutrons are held together by strong forces called Gluons (they carry the strong force). There are 6 types of quarks, Up and Down, Strange and Charm, and the last one, Bottom and Top. Electrons have 2 siblings as well The Muon and Tau. Quarks combine to form composite particles called Hadrons, the most stable form of an atomic nuclei. Quarks have various intrinsic properties, including electric charges, mass, colour change, and spin. They are the only elementary particles in the Standard Model of particle physics to experience all four fundamental, also known as fundamental forces(Electromagnetism, gravitation, strong interactions and weak interactions). Another elementary particle is Boson. Boson is a subatomic particle which has a zero or integral spin and follows statistical description. Bosons are made up of 2 classes, their other part being fermions. Its examples are “Higgs Bosons”, a hypothetical graviton of quantum gravity. An important characteristic of bosons is that their statistics do not restrict the number of them that occupy the same quantum state, this property is exemplified by helium-4 when it is cooled to become a superfluid. A lepton is an elementary particle of half-integer spin (spin 12) that does not undergo strong ineractions Two main classes of leptons exist: changed leptons (also known as the electron -like leptons), and neutral leptons (better known as neutrinos). Charged leptons can combine with other particles to form various composite particles such as atoms and positronium. Higgs Boson has earned itself it’s place in the subatomic world, it was discovered in an experiment. In the Standard Model, the Higgs particle is a boson with spin zero, no electric charge, it is also very unstable, decaying into other particles almost immediately. As physicists believe that the “Higgs field” surrounds the universe, understanding the “Higgs boson” we can understand lot about the universe. The “Higgs field” also gives mass to the “elementary particles”. Even though the Standard Model gives answers to a lot of our questions, there is still a universe’s worth of unsolved mysteries.


The Standard Model in all it's glory

© 2019 Amaan Rashid

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