Do subatomic particles actually make up matter or are created in interactions?

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Offline McKay

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Do subatomic particles actually make up matter or they are created in interactions?
Something like - we can chip of smaller rocks from a larger rock, but that doesn't mean the larger rock is actually made of lots of smaller rocks.


Offline JohnDuffield

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Subatomic particles make up matter. Your body is made up of electrons, protons, and neutrons. If we were to extract one neutron it would decay in about fifteen minutes into an electron, a proton, and an antineutrino. Without interacting with anything.

People do say protons and neutrons are made up of quarks, but we've never seen a free quark, and I prefer to think of them as "partons" myself. Parts of the whole rather than little billiard-ball particles. Taking a tip from Topological Quantum Field Theory , I like the idea that they're something like the loops of a knot. Take a look at this Topological Quantum Field Theory Club webpage. See those blue trefoil knots at the top? Pick one, start at the bottom left, and trace around it anticlockwise calling out the crossing-over directions: up down up. How cool is that?   


Offline PmbPhy

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Quote from: McKay
Do subatomic particles actually make up matter or they are created in interactions?
All matter is composed of atoms and molecules. See:
A definition of "matter" more fine-scale than the atoms and molecules definition is: matter is made up of what atoms and molecules are made of, meaning anything made of positively charged protons, neutral neutrons, and negatively charged electrons. This definition goes beyond atoms and molecules, however, to include substances made from these building blocks that are not simply atoms or molecules, for example white dwarf matter—typically, carbon and oxygen nuclei in a sea of degenerate electrons. At a microscopic level, the constituent "particles" of matter such as protons, neutrons, and electrons obey the laws of quantum mechanics and exhibit wave–particle duality. At an even deeper level, protons and neutrons are made up of quarks and the force fields (gluons) that bind them together (see Quarks and leptons definition below).