The BBC News article Cern plans even larger hadron collider for physics search says:

The difficulty with Cern's proposals for a larger Large Hadron Collider is that no one knows what energies will be needed to crash large hadrons together to discover the enigmatic, super particles that hold the keys to the new realm of particles.

Cern hopes that its step-by-step proposal, first using electron-positron and then electron-large hadron collisions will enable its physicists to look for the ripples created by the super particles and so enable them to determine the energies that will be needed to find the super particles.

Do hadrons fall nicely into the two categories large and small? Is the way that the term large hadron is used in the article how particle scientists generally discuss experiments?

I'm (creatively) imagining the following sentence "We're not going to be able to do the experiment with these small hadrons, we're going to have to use the large ones."


  • As of 24-Jan-2018 it still hasn't been fixed. When/if it is in the near future, I'll make a note if it here to be fair to the BBC.
  • As of 30-Jan-2018 the first occurrence has been corrected but the second has not...
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    $\begingroup$ It's like XKCD Hyphen, in reverse. $\endgroup$
    – PM 2Ring
    Commented Jan 16, 2019 at 7:44
  • $\begingroup$ They are the ones collided at the large hadron collider, of course. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 29, 2019 at 23:33
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    $\begingroup$ This amusing ambiguity only exists in languages like English, in which nouns can be chained (hadron collider = collider of hadrons). In other languages (like French) there is no such ambiguity: grand collisionneur d'hadrons. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 5, 2019 at 6:49
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    $\begingroup$ All hadrons seem pretty small to me! $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 28, 2022 at 6:25
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    $\begingroup$ @Stef a μ⁻ (lepton) is only 22% lighter than a π⁰ (hadron) and both are long enough lived to be put into modest beams. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Jan 29, 2022 at 11:40

2 Answers 2


The article is either a joke or a gross misinterpretation of the name “Large Hadron Collider”. The name refers to the physical size of the device. It is a “large” hadron collider, not a “large hadron” collider. There is no categorization of hadrons into “large” and “small”.

  • $\begingroup$ double check here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hadron#Etymology $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Jan 16, 2019 at 2:10
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    $\begingroup$ This is simply the etymology of the word hadron. It comes from the Greek adros, meaning large. This is to emphasize the fact that hadrons are composite particles in contrast with the elementary nature of the leptons - named from the Greek leptos meaning small. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 16, 2019 at 2:11
  • $\begingroup$ Okay thank you. I almost didn't post the question because of that sentence. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Jan 16, 2019 at 2:12
  • $\begingroup$ Actually, that Greek word means stout, full grown, adult. The implication here is "bulky". $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 8, 2021 at 22:59

You could almost say that mesons and baryons could be small and large. But I agree with Riley. There is no such term as a small hadron


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