Cheat sheet of elementary particles

I am trying to teach myself some particle physics.

There are too many particles and its too much for me.

I hated biology just because of this sort of stuff. Too many names and it was all Greek to me.

Is there a good cheat sheet/ reference sheet of elementary particles?

It will also be very helpful if you share how you people manage to remember these things.

This is the first time I have ever hated studying physics. :(

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How about these guys -- particlezoo.net ? By the way, just fundamental particles (there aren't that many of them there) or also composite particles (like protons)? –  Marek Aug 2 '11 at 12:58
okay, for composite particles it helps to understand Gell-mann's eightfold way: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eightfold_Way_%28physics%29 –  Marek Aug 2 '11 at 13:27
+ a million, I've always felt the same way! –  Alan Rominger Aug 2 '11 at 13:31
For a detailed listing, try Particle Data Group - Particle Listings –  Simon Aug 2 '11 at 13:38
Here is a handy Eightfold Way reference chart from an undergrad class I taught on particle physics: cl.ly/8yhy . Of course, it will only be useful if you understand what it represents! There is a good review in "Introduction to Elementary Particles" by Griffiths. –  Robert McNees Aug 2 '11 at 14:09

1 Answer

There isn't that much to remember as far as fundamental particles are concerned. We have matter particles and field particles.

Matter particles are quarks and leptons and the latter include electrons and neutrinos. Both quarks and leptons come in pairs (up/down quark, electron/neutrino, etc.) which means they are charged under the weak force. Quarks are moreover colored and form RGB triplets which means they are charged under the strong force. That's pretty much it except for unknown reasons there are three copies of each particle with identical properties but distinct masses (e.g. electron/muon/tauon). You don't really need to know much about the two heavier families since these are unstable (decaying into the lower families which are stable since there is nothing else they could decay into; at least besides the down quark that can decay into up quark; this is the famous radioactive beta decay) and you need expensive equipment (such as LHC or jets from galaxies) to produce them.

As for the field particles, there is one type for every force although it gets a bit more tricky with weak and strong forces. For EM we have the usual photon. Weak force will give us three more -- the $W^{\pm}$ and $Z$ which are massive -- and finally the strong force has eight massless gluons (of various colors).

Additionally there may or may not be the Higgs particle (or more of them), superpartners, etc. But all of this is as yet unconfirmed.

So, there, that's all there is to particle zoo. It's only pain when you try to learn it by heart. But if you instead try to understand the concepts related to these particles (role of the weak particles and neutrinos in the beta decay, muons in cosmic rays, features of quantum chromodynamics, etc.) then it should be fun.

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