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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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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, "...
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3answers
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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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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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How literally should you take “The Higgs boson gives other particles mass”?

A standard phrase in popular discussions of the Higgs boson is that "it gives particles mass". To what extent is this a reasonable, pop-science, level of description of the Higgs boson and it's ...
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5answers
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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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3answers
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Why do we need to “create our own” Higgs boson in order to see one?

I understand that the LHC found the Higgs boson by pumping so much energy into a tiny space (via near light speed proton-proton collisions) that a Higgs boson appeared momentarily, then instantly ...
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6answers
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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 ...
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7answers
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Why are protons heavier than electrons?

Our teacher told us that protons are nearly 1800 times heavier than electrons. Is there any known reason as to why this is so? Or is this just an empirical value, one we do not know the reason to?
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5answers
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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 ...
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6answers
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What does antimatter look like?

I have seen simulations of antimatter on TV. Has antimatter ever been photographed?
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5answers
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Why do we need large particle accelerators?

The LHC is much larger than its predecessors, and proposed successors much larger still. Today, particle accelerators seem to be the main source of new discoveries about the fundamental nature of the ...
60
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4answers
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How do we know the LHC results are robust?

Nature article on reproducibility in science. According to that article, a (surprisingly) large number of experiments aren't reproducible, or at least there have been failed attempted reproductions. ...
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Where are all the slow neutrinos?

The conventional way physicists describe neutrinos is that they have a very small amount of mass which entails they are traveling close to the speed of light. Here's a Wikipedia quote which is also ...
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6answers
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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?
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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 ...
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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 ...
54
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1answer
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What is the upper-limit on intrinsic heating due to dark matter?

Cold dark matter is thought to fill our galactic neighborhood with a density $\rho$ of about 0.3 GeV/cm${}^3$ and with a velocity $v$ of roughly 200 to 300 km/s. (The velocity dispersion is much ...
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Status of experimental searches for tachyons?

Now that the dust has settled on the 2011 superluminal neutrino debacle at OPERA, I'm interested in understanding the current status of experimental searches for neutrinos. Although the OPERA claim ...
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3answers
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Why doesn't light affect a compass?

In our daily life a lot of photons of visible light, infrared and radio etc move around us. We know that light is an electromagnetic radiation. So why doesn't that electromagnetic radiation affect a ...
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6answers
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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 ...
46
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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 ...
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3answers
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Why don't electron-positron collisions release infinite energy?

Questions of the form: An electron and a positron collide with E MeV of energy, what is the frequency of the photons released. quite often come up in my A Level course (for often fairly arbitrary ...
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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?
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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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4answers
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What is needed to claim the discovery of the Higgs boson?

As I understand the Higg's boson can be discovered by the LHC because the collisions are done at an energy that is high enough to produce it and because the luminosity will be high enough also. But ...
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6answers
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How do we know photons have spin 1?

Electrons have spin 1/2, and as they are charged, they also have an associated magnetic moment, which can be measured by an electron beam splitting up in an inhomogeneous magnetic field or through the ...
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8answers
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How is it possible to accelerate a neutron?

It is possible to accelerate a charged particle in an electric field, how is it possible to accelerate a neutron? How can we control its velocity?
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10answers
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Why are there only four fundamental interactions of nature? [closed]

Is there an answer to the question why there are only four fundamental interactions of nature?
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10answers
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Applications of Algebraic Topology to physics

I have always wondered about applications of Algebraic Topology to Physics, seeing as am I studying algebraic topology and physics is cool and pretty. My initial thoughts would be that since most ...
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3answers
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Why is 7 TeV considered as a big amount of energy?

Considering that $7$ TeV is more or less the same kinetic energy as a mosquito flying, why is it considered to be a great amount of energy at the LHC? I mean, a giant particle accelerator that can ...
39
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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 ...
39
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6answers
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If there were fundamental forces weaker than gravity, would we know about it?

We know that gravity is a very weak force compared to electromagnetic forces and the nuclear forces. We know about the other forces because they're necessary to explain atoms, and we can detect ...
39
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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
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What do we see while watching light? Waves or particles?

I'm trying to understand quantum physics. I'm pretty familiar with it but I can't decide what counts as observing to cause particle behave (at least when it's about lights). So the question is what do ...
36
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5answers
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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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1answer
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How far away are we from probing Planck scale physics directly?

There are three related questions here: Given the current limits of technology how far away are we from probing Planck scale physics directly? It's well known, at least in some circles, that atoms ...
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3answers
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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 $10^{-12}$ ...
36
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1answer
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How close does a particle-antiparticle pair need to be for annihilation to happen?

I've most often seen the statement that the annihilation of a particle and its antiparticle occurs when they 'collide' with one another. So in other words when they get very close to one another right?...
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4answers
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What would happen if an accelerated particle collided with a person?

What would happen if an accelerated particle (like they create in the LHC) hit a person standing in its path? Would the person die? Would the particle rip a hole? Would the particle leave such a tiny ...
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3answers
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Lie theory, Representations and particle physics

This is a question that has been posted at many different forums, I thought maybe someone here would have a better or more conceptual answer than I have seen before: Why do physicists care about ...
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5answers
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Do massless particles really exist? [duplicate]

I was in doubt, so I went to wikipedia. There it says "the photon has zero rest mass", but on the side description it says the mass is $<1.10^{-18} \:\mathrm{eV}/c^2$. So is the mass of the photon ...
34
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4answers
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Models of neutrinos consistent with OPERA's results

I guess by now most people have heard about the new paper (arXiv:1109.4897) by the OPERA collaboration which claims to have observed superluminal neutrinos with 6$\sigma$ significance. Obviously this ...
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7answers
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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 ...
34
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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 ...
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3answers
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Would a spin-2 particle necessarily have to be a graviton?

I'm reading often that a possible reason to explain why the Nobel committee is coping out from making the physics Nobel related to the higgs could be among other things the fact that the spin of the ...
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8answers
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Is (rest) mass quantized?

I learned today in class that photons and light are quantized. I also remember that electric charge is quantized as well. I was thinking about these implications, and I was wondering if (rest) mass ...
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5answers
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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 ...
31
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1answer
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Why is Anti-helium so important in the search for dark matter?

I've been reading/hearing that if the AMS satellite measures a significant flux of anti-helium in cosmic rays, that would be an irrefutable proof of dark matter. I was wondering: Why is that? what is ...
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11answers
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Theoretically, could there be different types of protons and electrons?

Me and my friend were arguing. I think there could theoretically be different types of protons, but he says not. He says that if you have a different type of proton, it isn't a proton, it's something ...
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5answers
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Why do we use the electron volt?

Why do we use the electron volt? Why did it come to be the electron volt and not, say, just a prefix of the joule, like the nanojoule? Does the electron volt represent anything particular as far as ...