So I know that the process of deep inelastic scattering results in a collision of an electrons and protons in very high energies. However, I'm guessing that after the parton hadronizes, where would all of the energy + the mass of the proton go? Could the remains turn into something like a beam of mesons?

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    $\begingroup$ Worse. Mass is not conserved, only energy and momentum, and mass is only a form of energy. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Particle_shower $\endgroup$ Commented May 6, 2023 at 9:37
  • $\begingroup$ Do not forget quantum number conservation laws, in electron proton this means lepton number and baryon number must be conserved in the end products of the scattering. $\endgroup$
    – anna v
    Commented May 6, 2023 at 18:08

1 Answer 1


The electron bullets used to strike the proton carry more than enough energy to blast the proton to pieces i.e., the electron's energy exceeds the binding energy of the nucleon. Those pieces then react amongst themselves very vigorously and fly away from the collision site at great speed, and in specific directions.

All those reactions obey the conservation laws for quantum numbers including charge, spin, lepton number, etc. and the detectors surrounding the collision site then register what the resulting particles are, what direction they are moving in relative to the incoming electron beam, and what their energies are.

All the relevant details can be found in Riordan's book The Hunting Of The Quark.


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