This will probably sound ridiculous and stupid, so I apologize in advance.

I'm wondering whether instead of modelling matter and force fields representing the various fundamental particles and forces, a field theory could be constructed that represented various quantum numbers or properties as fields and described particles and their interactions in terms of those fields interacting. Does this make any sense at all?

To try and clarify a little, I'm talking about a field theory where the fields described would be things like "isospin field", "electric-charge field", "weak-isospin field", "[insert quark here]ness field", basically properties that are conserved (or not) during certain interactions.

I only wonder this because I often ponder how to actually put a face to the word "particle" and recently I was wondering whether it's really "just" the intersection of a specific set of property values.

I'm a layman who just happens to have a great interest but a VERY SHALLOW cursory knowledge of particle physics, so hopefully I'll be able to learn something new when someone educated explains why what I'm proposing makes no sense at all. Thanks in advance!


What you call a particle is in quantum field theory an excitation of some field. So for example when you just consider the field governing electromagnetism, one really gets an "electric-charge field" as you name it and the excitation then becomes an elementary charge e. So their is no mass (or any other property except momentum/position) involved yet.

It is only when one combines all forces into one "unified" field theory, the so-called Standard Model, that you obtain the particles (with all their properties) as we know them.

One should also note that properties such as strangeness are not conserved in all fundamental reactions and hence are not useful when talking about the unified field theory. For example strangeness is only useful in situations where weak interactions do not occur. These are properties arising in so-called "effective field theories".

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