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!