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Author Topic: How can it be that quarks have no internal structure?  (Read 1632 times)

Offline Alinta

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Does calling a quark an 'elementary particle' just mean they are point-like particles, or does it mean they are actually empty? What are they actually made of - are they bits of mass or are they some kind of vibrating wave? Or do we not know for sure yet?

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Alinta


 

Offline evan_au

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Re: How can it be that quarks have no internal structure?
« Reply #1 on: 07/03/2013 15:39:34 »
The history of physics shows that some things that were once considered "indivisible" (which is the literal meaning of "atom") were later found to have an internal structure, once you could probe them with sufficient energy. The same later happened for the proton.

Whether the same will be found for "elementary" particles like electrons and quarks remains to be seen.

One thing that is common about all subatomic particles is that they all have "wave-like" properties, ie they are a bit "fuzzy" around the edges. This is a result of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, one result of which states that you can never precisely identify their exact position in space.

One strange thing about quarks is that the forces holding them together seem to get stronger the further apart you separate them. This makes physicists despair of ever seeing an isolated quark. If you get them far enough apart, it actually takes less energy to produce new particles out of the vacuum of space, and your isolated quark disappears in a shower of subatomic pyrotechnics.
« Last Edit: 07/03/2013 15:42:37 by evan_au »
 

Offline imatfaal

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Re: How can it be that quarks have no internal structure?
« Reply #2 on: 07/03/2013 18:23:39 »
We might have one possibility; we do have quark/anti-quark pairs - the mesons, perhaps investigation of these particles will show a depth of structure that can only be explained by a quark substructure.  Problem is they only last a few hundred thousandths of a second. 
 

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Re: How can it be that quarks have no internal structure?
« Reply #2 on: 07/03/2013 18:23:39 »

 

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