Particle physics

Particle physics (also known as high energy physics) is a branch of physics that studies the nature of the particles that constitute matter and radiation. Although the word particle can refer to various types of very small objects (e.g. protons, gas particles, or even household dust), particle physics usually investigates the irreducibly smallest detectable particles and the fundamental interactions necessary to explain their behaviour. By our current understanding, these elementary particles are excitations of the quantum fields that also govern their interactions. The currently dominant theory explaining these fundamental particles and fields, along with their dynamics, is called the Standard Model. Thus, modern particle physics generally investigates the Standard Model and its various possible extensions, e.g. to the newest "known" particle, the Higgs boson, or even to the oldest known force field, gravity.[1][2]

Subatomic particles

Standard Model of Elementary Particles Anti
The particle content of the Standard Model of Physics

Modern particle physics research is focused on subatomic particles, including atomic constituents such as electrons, protons, and neutrons (protons and neutrons are composite particles called baryons, made of quarks), produced by radioactive and scattering processes, such as photons, neutrinos, and muons, as well as a wide range of exotic particles. Dynamics of particles is also governed by quantum mechanics; they exhibit wave–particle duality, displaying particle-like behaviour under certain experimental conditions and wave-like behaviour in others. In more technical terms, they are described by quantum state vectors in a Hilbert space, which is also treated in quantum field theory. Following the convention of particle physicists, the term elementary particles is applied to those particles that are, according to current understanding, presumed to be indivisible and not composed of other particles.[3]

Elementary Particles
Types Generations Antiparticle Colours Total
Quarks 2 3 Pair 3 36
Leptons Pair None 12
Gluons 1 1 Own 8 8
Photon Own None 1
Z Boson Own 1
W Boson Pair 2
Higgs Own 1
Total number of (known) elementary particles: 61

All particles and their interactions observed to date can be described almost entirely by a quantum field theory called the Standard Model.[4] The Standard Model, as currently formulated, has 61 elementary particles.[3] Those elementary particles can combine to form composite particles, accounting for the hundreds of other species of particles that have been discovered since the 1960s.

The Standard Model has been found to agree with almost all the experimental tests conducted to date. However, most particle physicists believe that it is an incomplete description of nature and that a more fundamental theory awaits discovery (See Theory of Everything). In recent years, measurements of neutrino mass have provided the first experimental deviations from the Standard Model.


The idea that all matter is composed of elementary particles dates from at least the 6th century BC.[5] In the 19th century, John Dalton, through his work on stoichiometry, concluded that each element of nature was composed of a single, unique type of particle.[6] The word atom, after the Greek word atomos meaning "indivisible", has since then denoted the smallest particle of a chemical element, but physicists soon discovered that atoms are not, in fact, the fundamental particles of nature, but are conglomerates of even smaller particles, such as the electron. The early 20th century explorations of nuclear physics and quantum physics led to proofs of nuclear fission in 1939 by Lise Meitner (based on experiments by Otto Hahn), and nuclear fusion by Hans Bethe in that same year; both discoveries also led to the development of nuclear weapons. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, a bewildering variety of particles were found in collisions of particles from increasingly high-energy beams. It was referred to informally as the "particle zoo". That term was deprecated after the formulation of the Standard Model during the 1970s, in which the large number of particles was explained as combinations of a (relatively) small number of more fundamental particles.

Standard Model

The current state of the classification of all elementary particles is explained by the Standard Model. It describes the strong, weak, and electromagnetic fundamental interactions, using mediating gauge bosons. The species of gauge bosons are eight gluons,
, and the photon.[4] The Standard Model also contains 24 fundamental fermions (12 particles and their associated anti-particles), which are the constituents of all matter.[7] Finally, the Standard Model also predicted the existence of a type of boson known as the Higgs boson. Early in the morning on 4 July 2012, physicists with the Large Hadron Collider at CERN announced they had found a new particle that behaves similarly to what is expected from the Higgs boson.[8]

Experimental laboratories

The world's major particle physics laboratories are:

Many other particle accelerators also exist.

The techniques required for modern experimental particle physics are quite varied and complex, constituting a sub-specialty nearly completely distinct from the theoretical side of the field.


Theoretical particle physics attempts to develop the models, theoretical framework, and mathematical tools to understand current experiments and make predictions for future experiments. See also theoretical physics. There are several major interrelated efforts being made in theoretical particle physics today. One important branch attempts to better understand the Standard Model and its tests. By extracting the parameters of the Standard Model, from experiments with less uncertainty, this work probes the limits of the Standard Model and therefore expands our understanding of nature's building blocks. Those efforts are made challenging by the difficulty of calculating quantities in quantum chromodynamics. Some theorists working in this area refer to themselves as phenomenologists and they may use the tools of quantum field theory and effective field theory. Others make use of lattice field theory and call themselves lattice theorists.

Another major effort is in model building where model builders develop ideas for what physics may lie beyond the Standard Model (at higher energies or smaller distances). This work is often motivated by the hierarchy problem and is constrained by existing experimental data. It may involve work on supersymmetry, alternatives to the Higgs mechanism, extra spatial dimensions (such as the Randall-Sundrum models), Preon theory, combinations of these, or other ideas.

A third major effort in theoretical particle physics is string theory. String theorists attempt to construct a unified description of quantum mechanics and general relativity by building a theory based on small strings, and branes rather than particles. If the theory is successful, it may be considered a "Theory of Everything", or "TOE".

There are also other areas of work in theoretical particle physics ranging from particle cosmology to loop quantum gravity.

This division of efforts in particle physics is reflected in the names of categories on the arXiv, a preprint archive:[20] hep-th (theory), hep-ph (phenomenology), hep-ex (experiments), hep-lat (lattice gauge theory).

Practical applications

In principle, all physics (and practical applications developed therefrom) can be derived from the study of fundamental particles. In practice, even if "particle physics" is taken to mean only "high-energy atom smashers", many technologies have been developed during these pioneering investigations that later find wide uses in society. Particle accelerators are used to produce medical isotopes for research and treatment (for example, isotopes used in PET imaging), or used directly in external beam radiotherapy. The development of superconductors has been pushed forward by their use in particle physics. The World Wide Web and touchscreen technology were initially developed at CERN. Additional applications are found in medicine, national security, industry, computing, science, and workforce development, illustrating a long and growing list of beneficial practical applications with contributions from particle physics.[21]


The primary goal, which is pursued in several distinct ways, is to find and understand what physics may lie beyond the standard model. There are several powerful experimental reasons to expect new physics, including dark matter and neutrino mass. There are also theoretical hints that this new physics should be found at accessible energy scales.

Much of the effort to find this new physics are focused on new collider experiments. The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) was completed in 2008 to help continue the search for the Higgs boson, supersymmetric particles, and other new physics. An intermediate goal is the construction of the International Linear Collider (ILC), which will complement the LHC by allowing more precise measurements of the properties of newly found particles. In August 2004, a decision for the technology of the ILC was taken but the site has still to be agreed upon.

In addition, there are important non-collider experiments that also attempt to find and understand physics beyond the Standard Model. One important non-collider effort is the determination of the neutrino masses, since these masses may arise from neutrinos mixing with very heavy particles. In addition, cosmological observations provide many useful constraints on the dark matter, although it may be impossible to determine the exact nature of the dark matter without the colliders. Finally, lower bounds on the very long lifetime of the proton put constraints on Grand Unified Theories at energy scales much higher than collider experiments will be able to probe any time soon.

In May 2014, the Particle Physics Project Prioritization Panel released its report on particle physics funding priorities for the United States over the next decade. This report emphasized continued U.S. participation in the LHC and ILC, and expansion of the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment, among other recommendations.

High energy physics compared to low energy physics

The term high energy physics requires elaboration. Intuitively, it might seem incorrect to associate "high energy" with the physics of very small, low mass objects, like subatomic particles. By comparison, an example of a macroscopic system, one gram of hydrogen, has ~ 6×1023 times[22] the mass of a single proton. Even an entire beam of protons circulated in the LHC contains ~ 3.23×1014 protons,[23] each with 6.5×1012 eV of energy, for a total beam energy of ~ 2.1×1027 eV or ~ 336.4 MJ, which is still ~ 2.7×105 times lower than the mass-energy of a single gram of hydrogen. Yet, the macroscopic realm is "low energy physics", while that of quantum particles is "high energy physics".

The interactions studied in other fields of physics and science have comparatively very low energy. For example, the photon energy of visible light is about 1.8 to 3.1 eV. Similarly, the bond-dissociation energy of a carbon–carbon bond is about 3.6 eV. Other chemical reactions typically involve similar amounts of energy. Even photons with far higher energy, gamma rays of the kind produced in radioactive decay, mostly have photon energy between 105 eV and 107 eV – still two orders of magnitude lower than the mass of a single proton. Radioactive decay gamma rays are considered as part of nuclear physics, rather than high energy physics.

The proton has a mass of around 9.4×108 eV; some other massive quantum particles, both elementary and hadronic, have yet higher masses. Due to these very high energies at the single particle level, particle physics is, in fact, high-energy physics.

See also


  1. ^ "The Higgs Boson". CERN.
  2. ^ "The BEH-Mechanism, Interactions with Short Range Forces and Scalar Particles" (PDF). 8 October 2013.
  3. ^ a b Braibant, S.; Giacomelli, G.; Spurio, M. (2009). Particles and Fundamental Interactions: An Introduction to Particle Physics. Springer. pp. 313–314. ISBN 978-94-007-2463-1.
  4. ^ a b "Particle Physics and Astrophysics Research". The Henryk Niewodniczanski Institute of Nuclear Physics. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  5. ^ "Fundamentals of Physics and Nuclear Physics" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 October 2012. Retrieved 21 July 2012.
  6. ^ "Scientific Explorer: Quasiparticles". 22 May 2012. Retrieved 21 July 2012.
  7. ^ Nakamura, K (1 July 2010). "Review of Particle Physics". Journal of Physics G: Nuclear and Particle Physics. 37 (7A): 075021. Bibcode:2010JPhG...37g5021N. doi:10.1088/0954-3899/37/7A/075021.
  8. ^ Mann, Adam (28 March 2013). "Newly Discovered Particle Appears to Be Long-Awaited Higgs Boson". Wired Science. Retrieved 6 February 2014.
  9. ^ "Brookhaven National Laboratory – A Passion for Discovery". Retrieved 23 June 2012.
  10. ^ "index". Retrieved 21 July 2012.
  11. ^ "The VEPP-4 accelerating-storage complex". Retrieved 21 July 2012.
  12. ^ "VEPP-2M collider complex" (in Russian). Retrieved 21 July 2012.
  13. ^ "The Budker Institute Of Nuclear Physics". English Russia. 21 January 2012. Retrieved 23 June 2012.
  14. ^ "Welcome to". Retrieved 23 June 2012.
  15. ^ "Germany's largest accelerator centre". Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron DESY. Retrieved 23 June 2012.
  16. ^ "Fermilab | Home". Retrieved 23 June 2012.
  17. ^ "IHEP | Home". Archived from the original on 1 February 2016. Retrieved 29 November 2015.
  18. ^ "Kek | High Energy Accelerator Research Organization". Archived from the original on 21 June 2012. Retrieved 23 June 2012.
  19. ^ "SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory Home Page". Retrieved 19 February 2015.
  20. ^ " e-Print archive".
  21. ^ "Fermilab | Science at Fermilab | Benefits to Society". Retrieved 23 June 2012.
  22. ^ "CODATA Value: Avogadro constant". The NIST Reference on Constants, Units, and Uncertainty. US National Institute of Standards and Technology. June 2015. Retrieved 2016-12-10.
  23. ^ "Beam Requirements and Fundamental Choices" (PDF). CERN Engineering & Equipment Data Management Service (EDMS). Retrieved 10 December 2016.

Further reading

Introductory reading
  • Close, Frank (2004). Particle Physics: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-280434-1.
  • Close, Frank; Marten, Michael; Sutton, Christine (2004). The Particle Odyssey: A Journey to the Heart of the Matter. The Particle Odyssey : A Journey to the Heart of the Matter. ISBN 9780198609438.
  • Ford, Kenneth W. (2005). The Quantum World. Harvard University Press.
  • Oerter, Robert (2006). The Theory of Almost Everything: The Standard Model, the Unsung Triumph of Modern Physics. Plume.
  • Schumm, Bruce A. (2004). Deep Down Things: The Breathtaking Beauty of Particle Physics. Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 978-0-8018-7971-5.
  • Close, Frank (2006). The New Cosmic Onion. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 978-1-58488-798-0.
Advanced reading
  • Robinson, Matthew B.; Bland, Karen R.; Cleaver, Gerald. B.; Dittmann, Jay R. (2008). "A Simple Introduction to Particle Physics". arXiv:0810.3328 [hep-th].
  • Robinson, Matthew B.; Ali, Tibra; Cleaver, Gerald B. (2009). "A Simple Introduction to Particle Physics Part II". arXiv:0908.1395 [hep-th].
  • Griffiths, David J. (1987). Introduction to Elementary Particles. Wiley, John & Sons, Inc. ISBN 978-0-471-60386-3.
  • Kane, Gordon L. (1987). Modern Elementary Particle Physics. Perseus Books. ISBN 978-0-201-11749-3.
  • Perkins, Donald H. (1999). Introduction to High Energy Physics. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-62196-0.
  • Povh, Bogdan (1995). Particles and Nuclei: An Introduction to the Physical Concepts. Springer-Verlag. ISBN 978-0-387-59439-2.
  • Boyarkin, Oleg (2011). Advanced Particle Physics Two-Volume Set. CRC Press. ISBN 978-1-4398-0412-4.

External links


The axino is a hypothetical elementary particle predicted by some theories of particle physics. Peccei–Quinn theory attempts to explain the observed phenomenon known as the strong CP problem by introducing a hypothetical real scalar particle called the axion. Adding supersymmetry to the model predicts the existence of a fermionic superpartner for the axion, the axino, and a bosonic superpartner, the saxion. They are all bundled up in a chiral superfield.

The axino has been predicted to be the lightest supersymmetric particle in such a model. In part due to this property, it is considered a candidate for the composition of dark matter.The supermultiplet containing an axion and axino has been suggested as the origin of supersymmetry breaking, where the supermultiplet gains an F-term expectation value.


The European Organization for Nuclear Research (French: Organisation européenne pour la recherche nucléaire), known as CERN (; French pronunciation: ​[sɛʁn]; derived from the name Conseil européen pour la recherche nucléaire), is a European research organization that operates the largest particle physics laboratory in the world. Established in 1954, the organization is based in a northwest suburb of Geneva on the Franco–Swiss border and has 23 member states. Israel is the only non-European country granted full membership. CERN is an official United Nations Observer.The acronym CERN is also used to refer to the laboratory, which in 2016 had 2,500 scientific, technical, and administrative staff members, and hosted about 12,000 users. In the same year, CERN generated 49 petabytes of data.CERN's main function is to provide the particle accelerators and other infrastructure needed for high-energy physics research – as a result, numerous experiments have been constructed at CERN through international collaborations. The main site at Meyrin hosts a large computing facility, which is primarily used to store and analyse data from experiments, as well as simulate events. Researchers need remote access to these facilities, so the lab has historically been a major wide area network hub. CERN is also the birthplace of the World Wide Web.


In particle physics, the chargino is a hypothetical particle which refers to the mass eigenstates of a charged superpartner, i.e. any new electrically charged fermion (with spin 1/2) predicted by supersymmetry. They are linear combinations of the charged wino and charged higgsinos. There are two charginos that are fermions and are electrically charged, which are typically labeled
(the lightest) and
(the heaviest) although sometimes and is also used to refer to charginos, when is used to refer to neutralinos. The heavier chargino can decay through the neutral Z boson to the lighter chargino. Both can decay through a charged W boson to a neutralino:






Cornell Laboratory for Accelerator-based Sciences and Education

The Cornell Laboratory for Accelerator-based Sciences and Education (CLASSE) is a particle accelerator facility located in Wilson Laboratory on the Cornell University campus in Ithaca, NY. CLASSE formed from the merger of the Cornell High-Energy Synchrotron Source (CHESS) and the Laboratory for Elementary-Particle Physics (LEPP) in July 2006. Ritchie Patterson is the Director of CLASSE.

The Wilson Synchrotron Lab, which houses both the Cornell Electron Storage Ring (CESR) and CHESS, is named after Robert R. Wilson, known for his work as a group leader in the Manhattan Project, for being the first director of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, and for contributing to the design of CESR.


In physics, the electronvolt (symbol eV, also written electron-volt and electron volt) is a unit of energy equal to approximately 1.6×10−19 joules (symbol J) in SI units.

Historically, the electronvolt was devised as a standard unit of measure through its usefulness in electrostatic particle accelerator sciences, because a particle with electric charge q has an energy E = qV after passing through the potential V; if q is quoted in integer units of the elementary charge and the potential in volts, one gets an energy in eV.

Like the elementary charge on which it is based, it is not an independent quantity but is equal to 1 J/C √2hα / μ0c0. It is a common unit of energy within physics, widely used in solid state, atomic, nuclear, and particle physics. It is commonly used with the metric prefixes milli-, kilo-, mega-, giga-, tera-, peta- or exa- (meV, keV, MeV, GeV, TeV, PeV and EeV respectively). In some older documents, and in the name Bevatron, the symbol BeV is used, which stands for billion (109) electronvolts; it is equivalent to the GeV.

Elementary particle

In particle physics, an elementary particle or fundamental particle is a subatomic particle with no sub structure, thus not composed of other particles. Particles currently thought to be elementary include the fundamental fermions (quarks, leptons, antiquarks, and antileptons), which generally are "matter particles" and "antimatter particles", as well as the fundamental bosons (gauge bosons and the Higgs boson), which generally are "force particles" that mediate interactions among fermions. A particle containing two or more elementary particles is a composite particle.

Everyday matter is composed of atoms, once presumed to be matter's elementary particles—atom meaning "unable to cut" in Greek—although the atom's existence remained controversial until about 1910, as some leading physicists regarded molecules as mathematical illusions, and matter as ultimately composed of energy. Soon, subatomic constituents of the atom were identified. As the 1930s opened, the electron and the proton had been observed, along with the photon, the particle of electromagnetic radiation. At that time, the recent advent of quantum mechanics was radically altering the conception of particles, as a single particle could seemingly span a field as would a wave, a paradox still eluding satisfactory explanation.Via quantum theory, protons and neutrons were found to contain quarks—up quarks and down quarks—now considered elementary particles. And within a molecule, the electron's three degrees of freedom (charge, spin, orbital) can separate via the wavefunction into three quasiparticles (holon, spinon, orbiton). Yet a free electron—which is not orbiting an atomic nucleus and lacks orbital motion—appears unsplittable and remains regarded as an elementary particle.Around 1980, an elementary particle's status as indeed elementary—an ultimate constituent of substance—was mostly discarded for a more practical outlook, embodied in particle physics' Standard Model, what's known as science's most experimentally successful theory. Many elaborations upon and theories beyond the Standard Model, including the popular supersymmetry, double the number of elementary particles by hypothesizing that each known particle associates with a "shadow" partner far more massive, although all such superpartners remain undiscovered. Meanwhile, an elementary boson mediating gravitation—the graviton—remains hypothetical.


Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), located just outside Batavia, Illinois, near Chicago, is a United States Department of Energy national laboratory specializing in high-energy particle physics. Since 2007, Fermilab has been operated by the Fermi Research Alliance, a joint venture of the University of Chicago, and the Universities Research Association (URA). Fermilab is a part of the Illinois Technology and Research Corridor.

Fermilab's Tevatron was a landmark particle accelerator; until the startup in 2008 of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) near Geneva, Switzerland, it was the most powerful particle accelerator in the world, accelerating antiprotons to energies of 500 GeV, and producing proton-proton collisions with energies of up to 1.6 TeV, the first accelerator to reach one "tera-electron-volt" energy. At 3.9 miles (6.3 km), it was the world's fourth-largest particle accelerator in circumference. One of its most important achievements was the 1995 discovery of the top quark, announced by research teams using the Tevatron's CDF and DØ detectors. It was shut down in 2011.

In addition to high-energy collider physics, Fermilab hosts fixed-target and neutrino experiments, such as MicroBooNE (Micro Booster Neutrino Experiment), NOνA (NuMI Off-Axis νe Appearance) and SeaQuest. Completed neutrino experiments include MINOS (Main Injector Neutrino Oscillation Search), MINOS+, MiniBooNE and SciBooNE (SciBar Booster Neutrino Experiment). The MiniBooNE detector was a 40-foot (12 m) diameter sphere containing 800 tons of mineral oil lined with 1,520 phototube detectors. An estimated 1 million neutrino events were recorded each year. SciBooNE sat in the same neutrino beam as MiniBooNE but had fine-grained tracking capabilities. The NOνA experiment uses, and the MINOS experiment used, Fermilab's NuMI (Neutrinos at the Main Injector) beam, which is an intense beam of neutrinos that travels 455 miles (732 km) through the Earth to the Soudan Mine in Minnesota and the Ash River, Minnesota, site of the NOνA far detector.

In the public realm, Fermilab is home to a native prairie ecosystem restoration project and hosts many cultural events: public science lectures and symposia, classical and contemporary music concerts, folk dancing and arts galleries. The site is open from dawn to dusk to visitors who present valid photo identification.

Asteroid 11998 Fermilab is named in honor of the laboratory.


In particle physics, a fermion is a particle that follows Fermi–Dirac statistics. These particles obey the Pauli exclusion principle. Fermions include all quarks and leptons, as well as all composite particles made of an odd number of these, such as all baryons and many atoms and nuclei. Fermions differ from bosons, which obey Bose–Einstein statistics.

A fermion can be an elementary particle, such as the electron, or it can be a composite particle, such as the proton. According to the spin-statistics theorem in any reasonable relativistic quantum field theory, particles with integer spin are bosons, while particles with half-integer spin are fermions.

In addition to the spin characteristic, fermions have another specific property: they possess conserved baryon or lepton quantum numbers. Therefore, what is usually referred to as the spin statistics relation is in fact a spin statistics-quantum number relation.As a consequence of the Pauli exclusion principle, only one fermion can occupy a particular quantum state at any given time. If multiple fermions have the same spatial probability distribution, then at least one property of each fermion, such as its spin, must be different. Fermions are usually associated with matter, whereas bosons are generally force carrier particles, although in the current state of particle physics the distinction between the two concepts is unclear. Weakly interacting fermions can also display bosonic behavior under extreme conditions. At low temperature fermions show superfluidity for uncharged particles and superconductivity for charged particles.

Composite fermions, such as protons and neutrons, are the key building blocks of everyday matter.

The name fermion was coined by English theoretical physicist Paul Dirac from the surname of Italian physicist Enrico Fermi.

Flavour (particle physics)

In particle physics, flavour or flavor refers to the species of an elementary particle. The Standard Model counts six flavours of quarks and six flavours of leptons. They are conventionally parameterized with flavour quantum numbers that are assigned to all subatomic particles. They can also be described by some of the family symmetries proposed for the quark-lepton generations.

Generation (particle physics)

In particle physics, a generation or family is a division of the elementary particles. Between generations, particles differ by their flavour quantum number and mass, but their interactions are identical.

There are three generations according to the Standard Model of particle physics. Each generation is divided into two types of leptons and two types of quarks. The two leptons may be classified into one with electric charge −1 (electron-like) and one neutral (neutrino); the two quarks may be classified into one with charge −​1⁄3 (down-type) and one with charge +​2⁄3 (up-type). The basic features of quark-lepton generation or families, such as their masses and mixings etc., can be described by some of the proposed family symmetries.

Mesonic molecule

A mesonic molecule is a set of two or more mesons bound together by the strong force. Unlike baryonic molecules, which form the nuclei of all elements in nature save hydrogen-1, a mesonic molecule has yet to be definitively observed. The X(3872) discovered in 2003 and the Z(4430) discovered in 2007 by the Belle experiment are the best candidates for such an observation.


An onium (plural: onia) is a bound state of a particle and its antiparticle. They are usually named by adding the suffix -onium to the name of the constituting particle except for muonium which, despite its name, is not a bound muon–antimuon onium, but an electron–antimuon bound state, and whose name was assigned by IUPAC. A muon–antimuon onium is called true muonium.


In the physical sciences, a particle (or corpuscule in older texts) is a small localized object to which can be ascribed several physical or chemical properties such as volume, density or mass. They vary greatly in size or quantity, from subatomic particles like the electron, to microscopic particles like atoms and molecules, to macroscopic particles like powders and other granular materials. Particles can also be used to create scientific models of even larger objects depending on their density, such as humans moving in a crowd or celestial bodies in motion.

The term 'particle' is rather general in meaning, and is refined as needed by various scientific fields. Something that is composed of particles may be referred to as being particulate. However, the noun 'particulate' is most frequently used to refer to pollutants in the Earth's atmosphere, which are a suspension of unconnected particles, rather than a connected particle aggregation.

Particle Data Group

The Particle Data Group (or PDG) is an international collaboration of particle physicists that compiles and reanalyzes published results related to the properties of particles and fundamental interactions. It also publishes reviews of theoretical results that are phenomenologically relevant, including those in related fields such as cosmology. The PDG currently publishes the Review of Particle Physics and its pocket version, the Particle Physics Booklet, which are printed biennially as books, and updated annually via the World Wide Web.

In previous years, the PDG has published the Pocket Diary for Physicists, a calendar with the dates of key international conferences and contact information of major high energy physics institutions, which is now discontinued. PDG also further maintains the standard numbering scheme for particles in event generators, in association with the event generator authors.

Phenomenology (physics)

In physics, phenomenology is the application of theoretical physics to experimental data by making quantitative predictions based upon known theories. It is in contrast to experimentation in the scientific method, in which the goal of the experiment is to test a scientific hypothesis instead of making predictions. Phenomenology is related to the philosophical notion in that these predictions describe anticipated behaviors for the phenomena in reality.

Phenomenology is commonly applied to the field of particle physics, where it forms a bridge between the mathematical models of theoretical physics (such as quantum field theories and theories of the structure of space-time) and the results of the high-energy particle experiments. It is sometimes used in other fields such as in condensed matter physics and plasma physics, when there are no existing theories for the observed experimental data.

Standard Model

The Standard Model of particle physics is the theory describing three of the four known fundamental forces (the electromagnetic, weak, and strong interactions, and not including the gravitational force) in the universe, as well as classifying all known elementary particles. It was developed in stages throughout the latter half of the 20th century, through the work of many scientists around the world, with the current formulation being finalized in the mid-1970s upon experimental confirmation of the existence of quarks. Since then, confirmation of the top quark (1995), the tau neutrino (2000), and the Higgs boson (2012) have added further credence to the Standard Model. In addition, the Standard Model has predicted various properties of weak neutral currents and the W and Z bosons with great accuracy.

Although the Standard Model is believed to be theoretically self-consistent and has demonstrated huge successes in providing experimental predictions, it leaves some phenomena unexplained and falls short of being a complete theory of fundamental interactions. It does not fully explain baryon asymmetry, incorporate the full theory of gravitation as described by general relativity, or account for the accelerating expansion of the Universe as possibly described by dark energy. The model does not contain any viable dark matter particle that possesses all of the required properties deduced from observational cosmology. It also does not incorporate neutrino oscillations and their non-zero masses.

The development of the Standard Model was driven by theoretical and experimental particle physicists alike. For theorists, the Standard Model is a paradigm of a quantum field theory, which exhibits a wide range of physics including spontaneous symmetry breaking, anomalies and non-perturbative behavior. It is used as a basis for building more exotic models that incorporate hypothetical particles, extra dimensions, and elaborate symmetries (such as supersymmetry) in an attempt to explain experimental results at variance with the Standard Model, such as the existence of dark matter and neutrino oscillations.


In particle physics, strangeness (S) is a property of particles, expressed as a quantum number, for describing decay of particles in strong and electromagnetic interactions which occur in a short period of time. The strangeness of a particle is defined as:

where n
represents the number of strange quarks (
) and n
represents the number of strange antiquarks (

The terms strange and strangeness predate the discovery of the quark, and were adopted after its discovery in order to preserve the continuity of the phrase; strangeness of anti-particles being referred to as +1, and particles as −1 as per the original definition. For all the quark flavour quantum numbers (strangeness, charm, topness and bottomness) the convention is that the flavour charge and the electric charge of a quark have the same sign. With this, any flavour carried by a charged meson has the same sign as its charge.

Subatomic particle

In the physical sciences, subatomic particles are particles much smaller than atoms. The two types of subatomic particles are: elementary particles, which according to current theories are not made of other particles; and composite particles. Particle physics and nuclear physics study these particles and how they interact.

The idea of a particle underwent serious rethinking when experiments showed that light could behave like a stream of particles (called photons) as well as exhibiting wave-like properties. This led to the new concept of wave–particle duality to reflect that quantum-scale "particles" behave like both particles and waves (they are sometimes described as wavicles to reflect this). Another new concept, the uncertainty principle, states that some of their properties taken together, such as their simultaneous position and momentum, cannot be measured exactly. In more recent times, wave–particle duality has been shown to apply not only to photons but to increasingly massive particles as well.Interactions of particles in the framework of quantum field theory are understood as creation and annihilation of quanta of corresponding fundamental interactions. This blends particle physics with field theory.

X and Y bosons

In particle physics, the X and Y bosons (sometimes collectively called "X bosons") are hypothetical elementary particles analogous to the W and Z bosons, but corresponding to a new type of force predicted by the Georgi–Glashow model, a grand unified theory.

See also
Particles in physics
Wikipedia books
Physical forces
Hypothetical forces
Beyond the
Standard Model

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