Take the 2-minute tour ×
Physics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for active researchers, academics and students of physics. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Possible Duplicate:
Practical matter of the Higgs-Mechanism

This video claims that for everyday matter you only need electrons, upquarks, and downquarks. So are all these other fermions useless? Has anyone ever made a shovel out of strange-charm-muon atoms or something?

share|improve this question

marked as duplicate by dmckee Jul 5 '12 at 14:25

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

3  
"you only need electrons, upquarks and downquarks" only stands a chance if you restrict yourself to fermions, but obviously bosons are also important (for instance, nothing in the domain of chemistry would work without photons). –  leftaroundabout Jul 5 '12 at 10:47
add comment

1 Answer 1

up vote 1 down vote accepted

For present consumers, they aren't really useful.

Yes, we can't make much out of them because of their instability--but that doesn't mean we can in the future.

We don't necessarily have to "make" stuff out of them for them to be useful--they can be part of a process as well. For example, we could have technology involving muons that are exchanged between object. (Just a random idea--here, if the exchange times are small enough, decay doesn't matter)

As a similar situation from the past, the concept of a plasma would have been considered unstable and "exotic" many years ago. I doubt anybody really thought it would be useful to consumers. But plasma displays have been in the market for years now(they use tiny cells filled with a bit of plasma in the display).


Actually, the search for particles has a much larger impact here:

Searching for these particles help us develop theories of the underlying nature of the universe. Science, as we know, consists of a tug-of-war between theory and experiment. Sometimes, a theory is developed to explain some experimental results. Other times, experimental results confirm the predictions of a theory. With any theory, one tries to start at a fundamental level--and particles are (probably) as fundamental as one can get. If a theory is consistent with experimental results on the existence of and interactions between fundamental particles, then we can apply it to bigger phenomena, and get a better understanding of how out Universe operates.

So, what use are these theories for consumers? Well, once we have a consistent theory of how the Universe operates, technology may improve vastly.

A lot of current technology is based on "new" theories. Semiconductor technology (which forms a huge part of our world now--you wouldn;t be reading this if not for semiconductior technology sprouts from quantum mechanics. Quantum mechanics, tries to explain stuff at the atomic level--at first glance that sounds useless for the consumer. But it is useful, as you probably know by now.

Similarly, a better understanding of how the universe operates can lead to improved technology for the consumer.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.