Questions tagged [particle-physics]

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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76
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5answers
14k views

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 ...
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What is more fundamental, fields or particles?

My confusion about quantum theory is twofold: I lack an adequate understanding of how the mathematics of quantum theory is supposed to correspond to phenomena in the physical world I still have an ...
134
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5answers
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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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4answers
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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 ...
166
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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 ...
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2answers
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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 ...
48
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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 ...
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9answers
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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 ...
19
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8answers
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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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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 ...
14
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2answers
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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?
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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?
21
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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 ...
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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 $10^{-12}$ ...
19
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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. My ...
23
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1answer
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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?
199
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19answers
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What exactly is a photon?

Consider the question, "What is a photon?". The answers say, "an elementary particle" and not much else. They don't actually answer the question. Moreover, the question is flagged as a duplicate of, "...
54
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5answers
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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 ...
23
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5answers
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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 ...
16
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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 ...
16
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6answers
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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?
22
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Books for particle physics and the Standard Model

I know classical physics, quantum mechanics, special relativity, and basic nuclear physics. I would like to get into some particle physics. Where can I find a good introduction? It might be useful ...
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1answer
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Is the electromagnetic force responsible for contact forces? [duplicate]

It is commonly stated that there are four fundamental forces, or interactions, in nature. It is natural to consider which of those is responsible for the normal force we meet in elementary physics. ...
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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. ...
16
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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, ...
26
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2answers
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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 ...
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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 ...
70
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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 ...
48
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3answers
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Do anti-photons exist?

I know what anti-matter is and how when it collides with matter both are annihilated. However, what about anti-photons? Are there such things as anti-photons? I initially thought the idea ...
14
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1answer
502 views

How are neutrino beams emitted at CERN?

As far I know they come from accelerator collisions, but I have read confusing things like magnetically focused. How could neutrinos be guided magnetically if they aren't affected by the ...
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Speed of neutrinos

Everyone knows it is close to $c$, but how close? What are the recent results?
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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 ...
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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, ...
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2answers
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What the heck is the sigma (f0) 600?

At one point, I decided to make friends with the low-lying spectrum of QCD. By this I do not mean the symmetry numbers (the "quark content"), but the actual dynamics, some insight. The pions are the ...
26
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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 ...
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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 ...
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2answers
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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 ...
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3answers
570 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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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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3answers
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Do neutrinos not couple to the Higgs field?

I was reading the CernCourier, my favorite source of message on Higgs and friends. I was rather shocked, when I saw this: "The mechanism by which neutrino mass is generated is not known." What? ...
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2answers
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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....
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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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3answers
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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 ...
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What's the difference between helicity and chirality?

When a particle spins in the same direction as its momentum, it has right helicity, and left helicity otherwise. Neutrinos, however, have some kind of inherent helicity called chirality. But they can ...
27
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2answers
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Weak force: attractive or repulsive?

We are always told that there are the four fundamental forces or interactions of nature: gravitation, electromagnetism, and the weak and strong forces. We know that gravitation is attractive, that ...