Particle physics is the study of the fundamental forces of nature as they are embodied in the interactions of elementary and composite particles at high energies and short time and distance scales.

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What is spin as it relates to subatomic particles?

I often hear about subatomic particles having a property called "spin" but also that it doesn't actually relate to spinning about an axis like you would think. Which particles have spin? What does ...
92
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5answers
10k views

Gauge symmetry is not a symmetry?

I have read before in one of Seiberg's articles something like, that gauge symmetry is not a symmetry but a redundancy in our description, by introducing fake degrees of freedom to facilitate ...
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3answers
2k views

What is the mass density distribution of an electron?

I am wondering if the mass density profile $\rho(\vec{r})$ has been characterized for atomic particles such as quarks and electrons. I am currently taking an intro class in quantum mechanics, and I ...
120
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Why doesn't matter pass through other matter if atoms are 99.999% empty space?

The ghostly passage of one body through another is obviously out of the question if the continuum assumption were valid, but we know that at the micro, nano, pico levels (and beyond) this is not even ...
20
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8answers
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Accelerating particles to speeds infinitesimally close to the speed of light?

I'm in a freshmen level physics class now, so I don't know much, but something I heard today intrigued me. My TA was talking about how at the research facility he worked at, they were able to ...
49
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5answers
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Which is more fundamental, Fields or Particles?

I hope that I am using appropriate terminology. My confusion about quantum theory (beyond my obvious unfamiliarity with its terminology) is basically twofold: I lack an adequate understanding of ...
25
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3answers
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How does the Higgs mechanism work?

I'm not a particle physicist, but I did manage to get through the Feynman lectures without getting too lost. Is there a way to explain how the Higgs field works, in a way that people like me might ...
20
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2answers
2k views

How does one experimentally determine chirality, helicity, spin and angular momentum of a fundamental particle?

If I've got an instance of a fundamental particle, how can I separate out the measurements of these four quantities? (I think) I understand the theory behind them, and why the particles in the ...
13
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7answers
2k views

Why do physicists believe that particles are pointlike?

String theory gives physicists reason to believe that particles are 1-dimensional strings because the theory has a purpose - unifying gravity with the gauge theories. So why is it that it's popular ...
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6answers
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Do electrons have shape?

According to the Wikipedia page on the electron: The electron has no known substructure. Hence, it is defined or assumed to be a point particle with a point charge and no spatial extent. Does ...
28
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Why is the (free) neutron lifetime so long?

A neutron outside the nucleus lives for about 15 minutes and decays mainly through weak decays (beta decay). Many other weakly decaying particles decay with lifetimes between $10^{-10}$ and $10^{-12}$ ...
18
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6answers
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What would be the effects on theoretical physics if neutrinos go faster than light?

Earlier today, I saw this link on Facebook about neutrinos going faster than the speed of light, and of course, re-posted. Since then, a couple of my friends have gotten into a discussion about what ...
16
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1answer
3k views

Origin of electric charge

Baryons have charges that are the result of a polynomial calculation of their building blocks (quarks)'s fractional charges. But what gives these quarks electric charges? What interactions do they ...
10
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2answers
2k views

About free quarks and confinement

I simply know that a single free quark does not exist. What is the reason that we can not get a free quark? If we can't get a free quark then what is single-top-quark?
36
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5answers
6k views

Why isn't Higgs coupling considered a fifth fundamental force?

When I first learned about the four fundamental forces of nature, I assumed that they were just the only four kind of interactions there were. But after learning a little field theory, there are many ...
12
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4answers
28k views

What are quarks made of?

So atoms are formed from protons and neutrons, which are formed from quarks. But where do these quarks come from? What makes them?
38
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4answers
7k views

How do we know Dark Matter isn't simply Neutrinos?

What evidence is there that dark matter isn't one of the known types of neutrinos? If it were, how would this be measurable?
11
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2answers
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Virtual particles and physical laws

Recently, I was reading about Hawking Radiation in A Brief History of Time. It says that at no point can all the fields be zero and so there's nothing like empty space(quantum fluctuation etc.). Now, ...
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6answers
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Massless charged particles

Are there any massless (zero invariant mass) particles carrying electric charge? If not, why not? Do we expect to see any or are they a theoretical impossibility?
36
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How come neutrons in a nucleus don't decay?

I know outside a nucleus, neutrons are unstable and they have half life of about 15 minutes. But when they are together with protons inside the nucleus, they are stable. How does that happen? I got ...
9
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4answers
2k views

Is there an accepted analogy/conceptual aid for the Higgs field?

Is there an accepted analogy / conceptual aid for the Higgs field? In Physics there are many accepted conceptual aids such as * Schrödinger's cat * Maxwell's Demon * I'm sure I'm missing ...
21
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3answers
2k views

Are elementary particles actually more elementary than quasiparticles?

Quarks and leptons are considered elementary particles, while phonons, holes, and solitons are quasiparticles. In light of emergent phenomena, such as fractionally charged particles in fractional ...
51
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5answers
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Why do we think there are only three generations of fundamental particles?

In the standard model of particle physics, there are three generations of quarks (up/down, strange/charm, and top/bottom), along with three generations of leptons (electron, muon, and tau). All of ...
19
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2answers
2k views

What happens to matter in a standard model with zero Higgs VEV?

Suppose you reset the parameters of the standard model so that the Higgs field average value is zero in the vacuum, what would happen to standard matter? If the fundamental fermions go from a finite ...
11
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3answers
2k views

What actually happens when an anti-matter projectile collides with matter?

I'm trying to understand what would really happen when large quantities (e.g., 10g) of anti-matter collide with matter. The normal response is that they'd annihilate each other and generate an ...
7
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3answers
411 views

References on the non-compositeness of the known elementary particles

What paper(s) or theory(s) describe or prove that the elementary particles that we have determined today cannot be made up of smaller more fundamental particles?
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2answers
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How could something have negative mass?

With all the theories on how Neutrinos apparently broke the light barrier, there was one theory someone told me of how neutrinos might have less than zero mass, but she didn't explain how this was ...
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Is there an equation for the strong nuclear force?

The equation describing the force due to gravity is $$F = G \frac{m_1 m_2}{r^2}.$$ Similarly the force due to the electrostatic force is $$F = k \frac{q_1 q_2}{r^2}.$$ Is there a similar equation ...
14
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1answer
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Are there massless bosons at scales above electroweak scale?

Spontaneous electroweak symmetry breaking (i.e. $SU(2)\times U(1)\to U(1)_{em}$ ) is at scale about 100 Gev. So, for Higgs mechanism, gauge bosons $Z$ & $W$ have masses about 100 GeV. But before ...
7
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1answer
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What is the relationship between string net theory and string / M-theory?

I've just learned from this one of Prof. Wen's answers that there exists a theory called string net theory. Since I've never heard about this before it picks my curiosity, so I`d like to ask some ...
23
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7answers
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Why do neutrons repel each other?

I can understand why 2 protons will repel each other, because they're both positive. But there isn't a neutral charge is there? So why do neutrons repel? (Do they, or have I been misinformed?) The ...
8
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2answers
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Virtual photons, what makes them virtual?

The wikipedia page "Force Carrier" says: The electromagnetic force can be described by the exchange of virtual photons. The virtual photon thing baffles me a little. I get that virtual particles ...
7
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2answers
922 views

What is the significance of Lie groups $SO(3)$ and $SU(2)$ to particle physics?

I was hoping someone could give an overview as to how the Lie groups $SO(3)$ and $SU(2)$ and their representations can be applied to describe particle physics? The application of Lie groups and their ...
9
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1answer
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Particle physics getting started

I know classical physics, quantum mechanics, special relativity, basic nuclear physics. I would like to get into some particle physics. I want to get into that higgs boson, lepton, quark things :D ...
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The contribution to mass from the dynamical breaking of chiral symmetry

The claim is often made that the discovery of the Higgs boson will give us information about the origin of mass. However, the bare masses of the up and down quarks are only around 5 MeV, quite a bit ...
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Speed of a particle in quantum mechanics: phase velocity vs. group velocity

Given that one usually defines two different velocities for a wave, these being the phase velocity and the group velocity, I was asking their meaning for the associated particle in quantum mechanics. ...
6
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2answers
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Why do physicists think that the electron is an elementary particle?

When we first discovered the proton and neutron, I'm sure scientists didn't think that it was made up of quark arrangements, but then we figured they could be and experiments proved that they were. ...
14
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2answers
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Black hole “no hair” theorem

The "no hair" theorem (or conjecture), suggests that black holes can be entirely described by their mass, angular momentum and charge. All other details of the BH formation are lost. Is there a ...
9
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4answers
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Why can't a single photon produce an electron-positron pair?

In reading through old course material, I found the assignment (my translation): Show that a single photon cannot produce an electron-positron pair, but needs additional matter or light quanta. ...
4
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2answers
895 views

Can black holes be created on a miniature scale?

A black hole is so powerful to suck everything into itself. So is it possible that mini black holes can be created? If not then we could have actively disproved the rumors spread during LHC experiment....
16
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2answers
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Particle physics plots

I'm having a hard time understanding what some of the plots that are presented by ATLAS/CMS actually show. See for example: http://resonaances.blogspot.com/2011/07/higgs-wont-come-out-of-closet.html ...
18
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Decay of massless particles

We don't normally consider the possibility that massless particles could undergo radioactive decay. There are elementary arguments that make it sound implausible. (A bunch of the following is ...
12
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2k views

Intrinsic structure of electron

The electron contains finite negative charge. The same charges repel each other. What makes electron stable and why does it not burst? Is it a law of nature that the electron charge is the smallest ...
5
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2answers
898 views

The concept of particle in QFT

I never learnt QFT and I apologize for my (probably) elementary question. Somebody told me that in QFT a particle is viewed as an irregularity in the field. On the other hand, in an article in ...
12
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3answers
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How can neutrinos oscillate though the lepton flavors have differing masses?

Since the total mass-energy for the neutrino presumably does not change when a neutrino changes lepton flavor, though the mass is different, what compensates for the gain or loss of mass? Does the ...
17
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3answers
843 views

Why are all force particles bosons?

All of the force-particles in the standard model are bosons, now my question is pretty short, namely: Why are all force particles bosons? This can't be a coincidence.
12
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1answer
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How do $\pi^0$ particles exist?

I have been taught that the $\pi^0$ particle contains either an up quark and an anti-up quark or a down and an anti-down. How can these exist without annihilating? Also, it is its own antiparticle, ...
29
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2answers
827 views

Identification of particles and anti-particles

The identification of an electron as a particle and the positron as an antiparticle is a matter of convention. We see lots of electrons around us so they become the normal particle and the rare and ...
8
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3answers
801 views

What allows the modified Urca process to work at lower density than direct Urca in neutron star cooling?

The dominant method of neutron star cooling is neutrino emission. There are two regimes usually presented, the "direct Urca" and "modified Urca" processes, each of which are sequences of neutron decay ...
3
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1answer
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Relativistic speed/energy relation. Is this correct?

The relativistic energy-momentum equation is: $$E^2 = (pc)^2 + (mc^2)^2.$$ Also, we have $pc = Ev/c$, so we get: $$E = mc^2/(1-v^2/c^2)^{1/2}.$$ Now, accelerating a proton to near the speed if light,...