Unlocking The Secrets of The Standard – Model Part 3: Gauge Bosons

The world of quantum physics is one of the most amazing things in the world. It holds the secrets to all of the universe, and within a few particles, the story of the entire universe. This simple fact inspires two reactions within people. For those who are educated, and willing to understand, it is a beautiful world, one which harbors infinite amounts of knowledge. The other reaction is by those whose first choice is to instantly jump to a state of ignorance and fear. These people choose to make up insane theories about all of the awful things that scientists do, hence ideas like chemtrails, and the LHC creating black holes. As I said earlier, my intention with writing this is to help reduce this level of ignorance, and to shed some light on the truth. Even if it only helps 1 person, my job is done. Let us continue our adventure into the world of quantum physics with: Unlocking The Secrets of The Standard Model Part 3: Gauge Bosons.

 

According to wikipedia, a gauge boson is described as: “Any (bosonic) particle that carries any of the fundamental forces of nature. This means that the particles will include one of the 4 known fundamental forces. These forces are: Electromagnetic, Gravity, Strong Nuclear Force, and Weak Nuclear Force. The class of gauge bosons contains 4 particles: The gluon, the photon, the Z boson, and the W boson. Each of these particles helps to enforce or carry one of the fundamental forces of nature, other than gravity. Gravity currently has no known particle that causes it to work, instead it is explained through Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. It is theorized that there may be a gauge boson that carries gravity, but it is not yet known whether it truly exists. This theoretical particle is often referred to as the “graviton.” All of these particles are bosonic, which means that they have a spin of 1.

 

The first boson on the list is the gluon. The gluon does the work of the strong nuclear force, specifically between quarks. It has a near zero mass, and is considered to be one of the smallest particles in the known model. The gluon tends to hang out in a field around quarks, forcing them to stick to each other, and form a particle. Since gluons execute the strong nuclear force, they are the only thing that keeps similarly charged quarks from repelling each other. The gluon has no inherent charge, which makes it easier for it to interact with itself, and other charged particles.

 

The second boson on the list is the photon. The photon has a special place in the heart of science, specifically because it can be used to explain almost everything in the universe. The photon is the only known particle with a mass of 0, which gives it the ability to pass through almost any object without resistance. The best way to explain a photon is by thinking of it as a packet of energy, or light. The photon is the particle that produces and holds energy, and is responsible for the electromagnetic force. The photon is also the particle that produced the electromagnetic spectrum, which includes visible light. It is arguably the most important particle ever discovered.

 

The W and Z bosons are the last bosons on this list. They are usually lumped together, simply because they mediate the same force: The Weak Nuclear Force. The W boson can be either negatively or positively charged, each differently charge version being the opposites anti-particle. I will delve deeper into antimatter and exotic forces in another entry. The Z boson is neutrally charged, and is its own antiparticle. The Z boson is special, considering the fact that it is the only particle to be its own antiparticle. The W and Z bosons are mediators of some of the properties of the weak force that include neutrinos. Since this is an entry level explanation, I will simply say that they are extremely technical and complicated. If you have more interest in it, you can look up “Nuclear Transmutation,” and “Neutrino/Positron Absorption/Emission.” W and Z bosons are extremely massive, weighing more than an entire iron atom. This causes the range of the weak nuclear force to be limited in range. These bosons are most commonly known for the integral role that they play in neutron decay, specifically that of beta decay of the element cobalt-60.

 

That about covers it for the gauge bosons. The next topic we will be covering is the newly discovered and highly controversial Higgs Boson, also known as the “God Particle.” That will be the last entry about elementary particles, and after that, we will move on to different concepts, such as fundamental forces, and antimatter. Until then, everybody!

 

~Zane

Unlocking the Secrets of The Standard Model – Part 2: Leptons

Quantum physics is a scary field. It holds so many answers, and almost none of those are truly understandable by the general public. This results in theories like the idea that CERN and the LHC have “destroyed our universe,” or that “The LHC creates black holes that will kill us all.” This is as much speculation as it is simple ignorance. This is why I chose to write this series: to enlighten the general public about the truths of Quantum Physics, and shed some light on the truths behind the ignorance. Without further adieu, here is part 2 of Unlocking the Secrets of The Standard Model: Leptons.

 

Leptons are a reclusive bunch. They like to hang out by themselves, and tend to stay away from one another. This is why they hold such prevalence to the field of Quantum Physics. If we can observe some different kind of particles, most of which are either irregular, or try to repel (or annihilate) each other, we can gain some real insights into the world of Quantum Physics. There are 6 different types of leptons that are included in the standard model. Before I cover these different types of leptons, we should first talk about the definition of a lepton, and the definition of a fermion. A fermion is “a subatomic particle, such as a nucleon, that has half-integral spin and follows the statistical description given by Fermi and Dirac.” This simply means that a fermion is any particle with ½ spin, such as quarks, and leptons. In fact, quarks and leptons are the two subcategories of fermions. Since we’ve already covered quarks, we can move on to the definition of a lepton. A lepton is defined as “Any ½ integer spin particle that does not undergo strong interactions.” I will be covering the strong interaction in a later post, so we can ignore that for the moment.

 

Now that we know what leptons are, we can talk about the six different flavors that we know of. The first 3 that we will cover are the charged leptons. The first charged lepton is the ever-famous electron. Most people know about what an electron is, but since this post is mainly geared toward enlightening others about these things, I will give a brief synopsis. The electron is arguably the most important particle ever discovered. Like all other leptons, it has a half integer spin, and is negatively charged. The electron orbits around the outside of the atomic nucleus, being held in just the right place by the charge of the protons in the center. That’s pretty much the fundamentals of the electron.

 

The next particle is the muon, which is the second of the charged leptons. A muon is simply a much larger and more unstable electron. It is about 207 times as large as an electron, and holds a similar charge. They mostly produced by cosmic rays, and in particle accelerators. Because they are so massive, the are not produced by normal radioactive decay, unlike most other particles. Muons have no known use to any kind of interaction, other than their strange style of decay.

 

The final charged lepton is known as the tau, or tauon. The tauon has a negative electrical charge, and, as all other leptons, has a half integer spin. The Tauon again can be thought of as a much larger electron, considering the fact that it is interacts in mostly the same way. The only difference is that the tauon is much, much more massive, and much more deeply penetrating. Tauons also have very strange decay properties, much like those of a muon, but with different particles.

 

The final 3 leptons are known as neutrinos, and they have no charge. Each of the 3 charged leptons has a neutrino counterpart. The three types of neutrinos are: The electron neutrino, the muon neutrino, and the tau neutrino. A neutrino has no charge, and a near-zero mass, making it extremely hard to detect without the right kind of equipment or experiment. The most common way that neutrinos are produced is in the decay of other particles, specifically the particles that each neutrino is named after. Each neutrino is produced either in a star, in some kind of cosmic reaction, or in particle decay.

 

That covers all of the leptons! If you have any questions, suggestion, or feedback, feel free to let me know! Stay with us as the wonderful world of Quantum Physics is rediscovered, one piece at a time!

 

~Zane

Unlocking the Secrets of The Standard Model – Part 1

After a long hiatus, I am back, and ready to entertain and inform my readers with a new series. This one pertains to the Quantum Physics, a subatomic hobby of mine. Each piece will be explaining a different piece of Quantum Physics, starting with the very first series: Unlock the Secrets of The Standard Model. I’m hoping that after I’m done, I’ll be able to compile all the information into a short book. So here is Part 1: Quarks.

In high school, we all learned about the “basic building blocks of matter.” We always assumed that things like protons, neutrons, and electrons were the end all be all of what composes matter. We learned about things like elements, covalent bonds, electron interactions, and even a little bit of quantum chemistry, but that was the end of it. We never stopped to research, or even consider the fact that there may be something beyond these 3 basic particles. Luckily for the entire scientific community, there is something beyond these 3 particles. The true basic building blocks of almost all of the matter in the universe. These infinitesimal particles are known as quarks.

 

Before we delve into the definition of a quark, we must first talk about the different classifications of something called “elementary particles.” An elementary particle is a subatomic particle that helps to comprise the most essential pieces of matter in the universe. To help us keep track of all these different particles, we have something called the “Standard Model of Particle Physics.” This standard model separates different forms of matter into the proper categories. The 4 categories that exist within the Standard Model are: Quarks, Leptons, Gauge Bosons, and Scalar Bosons. These 4 categories include all of the different types of KNOWN elementary particles. What has not yet been discovered is so heavily beyond our comprehension, that we simply cannot begin to guess at what it would look like. We like to leave these things to the visionaries, like Feynman or Einstein.

 

In this post, I will be covering the first piece of the puzzle that is the Standard Model, quarks. Before we can understand what a quark is, we have to understand what a baryon is. A baryon is a specific denomination of matter, which is comprised of protons and neutrons. Anything that contains a proton or a neutron is classified as baryonic, including protons and neutrons themselves. Simply put, anything we can touch is baryonic matter. There are other types of matter, but for the moment, we’ll just be talking about baryonic matter. It is a common misconception that protons and neutrons are the most basic particle building blocks. In fact, I’m willing to guess it’s one of the most common scientific inaccuracies. The true building block of all baryonic matter is the quark. Within all baryons is 3 quarks, which comprise that baryonic particle.

Now that we have established important vocabulary concepts, we can now move on to the nitty gritty. Quarks are a little intimidating to those who are unfamiliar, but I’ll try my best to explain them in a way that makes sense. Quarks are governed by 3 different forces. The first of which is known as “color.” Color has nothing to do with the actual color of the particle, but, rather, the force that the particle is experiencing. The 3 different levels of color force are Red, Green, and Blue. Each color corresponds to a specific level of force that each particle is experiencing. This allows multiple types of the same quark to exist within a particle. The second force is known as spin. Each quark has a spin of ½, which is determined by some extremely confusing math. If you have a solid grasp on calculus, you can check out some resources on h-bar and spin vectors, but otherwise, don’t bother.

 

The third and final property is its mass. This is where things get truly complicated. Before we talk about the mass of quarks, we must talk about another particle: a gluon. A gluon field surrounds every quark, helping it to stay in place, and allowing it to interact with other quarks without repelling each other. The gluons help the quarks hold different color charges, which allow them to overpower certain quantum elements, such as the Pauli Exclusion Principle, which states that no two particles can occupy the same quantum level. Since each quark is surrounded by a gluon field, we have to take into account two different kinds of mass. The first is known as the current quark mass, which is the mass of the quark itself. The second is called the constituent quark mass, which is the sum of both the quarks mass, and the mass of the gluon field that surrounds it. These 3 properties are the basic constituents of the most fundamental particles every discovered.

 

The final vocabulary term used when defining quarks is “flavor.” Flavor refers to the type of quark that is being observed. There are 6 known flavors of quarks, and they each come in pairs. The first pair is Up and Down, which are the types that form protons and neutrons. The second pair is Strange and Charm, which are used in heavier particles, such as hadrons. The final pair is the most massive. It includes the Bottom and Top quarks. These 3 pairs of quarks are known as generations.

 

The world of quantum physics is a beautiful place, and it will only become more so as we find out more about the universe that we live in. Until next time.

 

~Zane