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Questions tagged [elementary-particles]

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48
votes
6answers
9k views

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 ...
47
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5answers
8k views

Do photons truly exist in a physical sense or are they just a useful concept like $i = \sqrt{-1}$? [closed]

Reading about photons I hear different explanations like "elementary particle", "probability cloud", "energy quanta" and so forth. Since probably no one has ever seen a photon (if "seen" it supposedly ...
38
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5answers
7k views

Why are muons considered to be “elementary particles” in the Standard Model?

According to this article, a muon decays into one electron and two neutrinos. According to this article, elementary particles or fundamental particles are particles "whose substructure is unknown, ...
36
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6answers
10k views

Is the Higgs boson an elementary particle? If so, why does it decay? [duplicate]

The Higgs boson is an excitation of the Higgs field and is very massive and short lived. It also interacts with the Higgs field and thus is able to experience mass. Why does it decay if it is ...
34
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7answers
3k views

How can the unstable particles of the standard model be considered particles in their own right if they immediately decay into stable particles?

How can the unstable particles of the standard model be considered particles in their own right if they immediately decay into stable particles? It would appear to a layman such as myself that these ...
33
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5answers
3k views

Is the graviton hypothetical?

Wikipedia lists the graviton as a hypothetical particle. I wonder whether graviton is indeed hypothetical or does its existence directly follow from modern physics? Does observation of gravitational ...
30
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4answers
6k views

Is there anything in the universe that cannot be compressed?

I've always thought that there is nothing in the universe that cannot be compressed or deformed under enough force but my friend insists that elementary particles are exempt from this. My thought is ...
25
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5answers
3k views

Where is the evidence that the electron is pointlike?

I'm writing a piece about the electron, and I'm having trouble finding evidence to back up the claim that the evidence is pointlike. People tend to say the observation of a single electron in a ...
24
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5answers
14k views

Can you split a photon?

I was wondering if a photon is divisible. If you look at a photon as a particle, then you may be able to split it (in theory). Is it possible and how do you split it?
20
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3answers
2k 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.
19
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8answers
3k 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 ...
17
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6answers
6k views

When an electron changes its spin, or any other intrinsic property, is it still the same electron?

I am not asking why an intrinsic property, like spin can have more then a single value. I understand particles (electrons) can come to existence with either up or down spin. I am asking why it can ...
17
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6answers
3k views

What happens before a radioactive element decays?

What happens to a radioactive element just before it decays? In school, I've been told that the decay process of an element is absolutely random, and it is impossible to determine which unstable ...
16
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4answers
3k views

An electron has no known internal structure, does that imply it has an unknown one?

I'm currently reading Alonso and Finn's Electromagnetism book. It explains that the spin contributes to the magnetic moment and is somewhat comparable to a rotation of the particle around its own ...
16
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3answers
2k views

What is the meaning of the size of a particle in QFT?

I have often seen people refer to the size of a particle being at most a given value, or a particle being a point particle, in the context of quantum field theory. Examples are the Wikipedia entry on ...
15
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3answers
1k views

Is there an electric dipole moment in an electron?

I just read an article in Science News (p7, 11/10/2018, link here) where researchers looked for an electric dipole moment in an electron. They spoke of charge separation between the positive and ...
15
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2answers
2k views

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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6answers
4k views

Can two people see the same photon?

In a dark room there are two people and a very faint candle. Then the candle emits one photon. Is it true that only one person can see the photon? Why? And are there any experiments? Edit 2019/4/23: ...
14
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5answers
2k views

How can a point-particle have properties?

I have trouble imagining how two point-particles can have different properties. And how can finite mass, and finite information (ie spin, electric charge etc.) be stored in 0 volume? Not only that, ...
14
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4answers
3k 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 ...
14
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2answers
599 views

In a universe with four spatial dimensions would there be elementary particles with intrinsic isoclinic spin?

Elementary particles have an intrinsic property called spin which is different from classical spin as it does not involve actual rotation and the magnitude of spin cannot be changed but particles with ...
13
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4answers
2k views

Why are there no elementary charged, spin-zero particles?

In the spirit of a related inquiry, I would like to know if there's a basis for understanding why there aren't any elementary particles that have non-zero electric charge but zero spin? Can such a ...
13
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3answers
627 views

How do we prove or disprove that a particle has no internal structure? [duplicate]

In many pop physics books I have read that an electron has no internal structure. How do we know that and how can we rigorously prove that it has no such structure at all?
13
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3answers
10k views

Why do quarks have a fractional charge?

I am aware that evidence exists that strongly suggests the existence of quarks and do not doubt it. It is just simply really weird to me that they can have a fractional charge. While other ...
12
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1answer
2k views

Stability of elementary particles

Are elementary particles stable, like many atoms or molecules are stable if there are no reaction partners nearby? Or can they be observed just for very short instances of time?
11
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2answers
7k views

What is the difference between a neutrino and an antineutrino? [duplicate]

Since an antiparticle by definition is a particle with the same mass but opposite charge, how is there such a thing as an antineutrino? A neutrino has 0 charge so could not have an opposite. So why ...
11
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2answers
2k views

Is everything made of massless particles?

Photons have no mass. Yet they interact gravitationally, as all energy does, with other energetic and massive particles. This means that if you put multiple photons in a system, you get something that ...
11
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1answer
1k views

Experimental boundaries for size of electron?

There is some confidence that electron is a perfect point e.g. to simplify QFT calculations. However, searching for experimental evidence (stack), Wikipedia article only points argument based on g-...
10
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2answers
1k views

Why couldn't the decay $\pi^- \to e^- + \bar\nu_e$ occur if electrons were massless?

If we assume that electrons (just like neutrinos) are massless, why can’t the decay $\pi^- \rightarrow e^- + \bar{\nu}_e$ occur under the weak interaction?
10
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1answer
2k views

Why do physicists say that elementary particles are point particles?

For example, an electron, it has mass and charge, but is considered to have point mass and point charge, but why? Why are they assumed to have charge and mass in a single infinitely small point in ...
10
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4answers
5k views

Does the existence (now proved) of gravitational waves imply the existence of Gravitons?

I studied the theoretical part about the Gravitational waves in General Relativity (linearization of gravity and small perturbations of the metric and so on). But I was wondering about: since ...
9
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4answers
3k views

Elementary Particle of Magnetic Field

If gravity - a field force - has an elementary particle, the graviton, why don't other field forces like magnetic fields have their elementary particles? I mean, why isn't there a magneton? Or, what ...
9
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1answer
3k views

Explaining chirality for spin 1/2 particle

I found the following explanation for chirality for spin 1/2 particles here What happens when you rotate a left- vs right-chiral fermion 360 degree about its direction of motion. Both ...
8
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3answers
3k views

If electrons have a negative spin of 1/2 do all particles also have the ability to have a negative spin?

I've been told that electrons can have $+{1\over 2}$ or $-{1\over 2}$ spin. And that because of the Pauli exclusion principle this is how they can occupy the same shell. But when I look online I only ...
8
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1answer
1k views

Is it a coincidence that quarks have exactly -1/3 or 2/3 the electron's charge? [duplicate]

I have read these questions: Why do quarks have a fractional charge? Is there an explanation for the 3:2:1 ratio between the electron, up and down quark electric charges? Hypercharge for $U(1)$ ...
7
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3answers
2k views

Are atoms made of protons, electrons and neutrinos?

If neutrons decay into proton, electron and (anti)neutrino of electron type, then is it safe to say that atoms are protons, electrons and neutrinos?
7
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1answer
371 views

Is color confinement detected?

I'm a graduate student studying QFT. I'm quite interested that is color confinement detected or proved? (both directly and indirectly) Or it is just an assumption?
7
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2answers
183 views

Can an elementary particle be reduced to its properties?

For instance, is an up quark merely its particular mass, 2/3 electrical charge and 1/2 spin? I was wondering if there was a 1:1 correspondence with a particle and its properties, but I noticed a gluon ...
7
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1answer
508 views

What are fundamental dimensions used to describe the physical universe? [closed]

I have heard that the universe can be explained in terms of the four fundamental forces. I have also heard it can be explained in terms such as space, time, energy, mass or even motion. To further ...
6
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4answers
315 views

When did the Universe turn from a quantum system to a multi-particle system?

Background: The properties of quantum particles and fundamental fields are the same all across the Universe. Each particle of a certain kind is identical to all other particles of that kind ("a ...
6
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2answers
1k views

How are quarks elementary when they can become leptons? [duplicate]

From a recently reignited [casual] curiosity into particle physics thanks to the Fermilab YouTube channel, I read about the g-2 experiment, followed by muons, naturally. Muons, it turns out have short ...
6
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2answers
3k views

Why is an electron considered a point-particle?

Apparently, an electron has mass not greatly smaller than a proton (roughly 1/20, I read, the rest being just binding energy) its volume should, therefore, not be a lot smaller, and its radius between ...
6
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1answer
1k views

Is a photon technically a set of two particles?

When looking at the classification of massless particles, one finds that there is the (half-integer) quantum number "helicity" $h$. For every possible $h$ there is a certain particle kind. In the case ...
6
votes
2answers
287 views

Can two nuclei with the same number of protons and neutrons be different?

In school, the nucleus is often portrayed with this caricature $\\$ $$$$ My question is: can two nuclei with the same number of protons and neutrons be different? In other words, can the protons and ...
6
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3answers
235 views

How can we experimentally tell the difference between particles with and without rest mass?

We only observe their decay products and that is what the rest-mass is reconstructed from. Also, there is a whole issue of running coupling which means that rest mass per se actually doesn't make ...
6
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2answers
5k views

How does electron spin change instantaneously without violating inertia principle?

The inertia in one of the main properties of matter. That is why all process in macro world do not happen instantaneously. What I do not understand is how we should apply this general idea of inertia ...
6
votes
1answer
165 views

Why doesn't string theory predict the existence of infinitely many elementary particles?

I'm a physicist, but my knowledge of string theory is extremely minimal. My naive conceptual understanding is that the vacuum is modeled as a certain topology (and geometry?) for the spacetime, and ...
6
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0answers
872 views

General equation of motion for elementary particles

Elementary particles can be grouped into spin-classes and described by specific equations, see below: Is there a general Lagrangian density from which all these equations can be derived? A ...
5
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6answers
2k views

Good book about elementary particles for high school students?

I need a good book about elementary particles. I am a high school student and don't want anything to technical. I read a brief history of time and the universe in a nutshell but I want something that ...
5
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1answer
1k views

What does it mean for a particle to have spin of 2? [duplicate]

When I first started to study quantum mechanics, my physics text book told that particles have spin of either 1/2 or -1/2. Then I recently read an article saying that gravitons are expected to be ...