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Jim Hirschauer | USLHC | USA

View Blog | Read Bio

But what are quarks made of?

The pressure is on.  I have read and enjoyed the US LHC blogs off and on for the past couple years, and so I was thrilled to be offered a chance to join the ranks of these entertaining and informative writers.  Now that it comes time for my first post, I admit that I am wracked with anxiety.  Whatever academic writing skills I may possess will be of little use to me here, right?

Abstract: A new LHC blogger is introduced.  His research is described …

See? It doesn’t work.  So I suppose that, to get over my anxiety related to this first post, I will stick to a subject that I know very well: my own research!  Here it goes …

The remarkable success of the LHC and the experiments that reside on its ring [including my experiment, the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS)] have made this an exciting time to be at CERN.  I have had the opportunity to help lead an exceptional group of researchers in a study of the early CMS data; this work has resulted in one of the first CMS publications based on data from 7 TeV proton-proton collisions.

To introduce this research, I’ll start with a little history:

We humans have been searching for the smallest unit of matter for a long time.  About 2500 years ago, Democritus proposed that all matter is made of tiny, indivisible (“atomos”) entities.  Unfortunately, Democritus was way ahead of his time, and even 2300 years after his hypothesis, we still did not know whether atoms really existed.  Finally, around 1800, Dalton and others realized that the elements combine in only certain proportions implying that there is a fundamental unit of each element; i.e., each element is made up of atoms.  Dalton’s atomic theory was a great advance, but it didn’t explain why there are so many (about 50, at the time) different elements.  The human tendency to categorize when presented with variety brought us Mendeleev’s Periodic Table of the Elements:

The Periodic Table of Chemical Elements


The fact that the elements fit nicely into a table based on their weights and chemical properties suggested that the elemental atoms are actually just different combinations of even smaller entities.  Only a few decades after Mendeleev presented his table, humans observed these sub-atomic entities when Thomson discovered the electron (1897), Rutherford the atomic nucleus (1910), and Chadwick the neutron (1932).

Soon after the discovery of the neutron, discoveries of particles that didn’t fit into our simple atomic model (e.g. pion, kaon, Lambda) hinted that a revision of that model was needed.  In the 1960’s, Gell-Mann suggested that these new particles, as well as protons and neutrons, were actually entries in another periodic table which he called the “Eightfold Way.”

The baryon octet of Gell-Mann's Eightfold Way.


Just as we now understand the diverse elements to be combinations of only three particles (protons, neutrons, and electrons), the Eightfold Way explained protons, neutrons, kaons, pions, etc. as combinations of particles that we now call quarks.  Only five years after Gell-Mann proposed his theory, these quarks were observed at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center.

And this is where it stands today.  As far as we know, quarks are indivisible; i.e., quarks are the smallest unit matter in the nucleus.  But wait!  We do observe there to be six quarks arranged in three generations:

I know what you’re thinking:  But this is another table!  This looks just like the Periodic Table or the Eightfold Way!   Isn’t this therefore a hint that even quarks (and leptons) are made up of something smaller still?

That is certainly a very reasonable guess, but only experiment can tell us for sure, and unfortunately, it gets progressively more difficult to see these small particles: roughly speaking, the atom is one million times smaller than a human hair, and the proton is 100,000 time smaller than the atom.   Our current understanding is that the quark is a point-like particle with no spatial extent!

My recent research focuses on searching for evidence that quarks are made up of even smaller stuff by probing these tiny distance scales.   The unprecedented energy of the LHC allows us to probe smaller distances than ever before: about 1/20,000 the size of the proton.   In my next post, I’ll describe how we actually do this and tell you what we have found.

  • http://blogs.uslhc.us Flip Tanedo

    Hi Jim! Welcome to the blog!

  • PJ

    Thanks for posting this. I have been following this blog and have enjoyed reading the posts and seeing everyone’s excitement with the work being done and the discoveries being made. From as far back as I can remember I have always be interested in finding out how things work. This is the ultimate “how things work” experiment. I think that I missed my calling 20 some years ago when I decided to drop out of college and peruse a career in IT. I’ve Only recently discovered my complete fascination with particle physics (at least as much as one can understand with out the education.) Anyhoo…I found this post to be greatly helpful in my understanding of these elementary particles. there is a lot of information out there on this stuff, but you did a great job of putting it plainly. Thank You.

  • Simon

    Jim: an elegant and simple first post! Eagerly anticipating your frequent articles.

  • http://sciencesprings.wordpress.com Richard Mitnick

    Jim-Very nice, I have been looking for a nicely sized Periodic Table for quite some time. I enjoy your writing. I hope that you stick around for a while. If you get a chance, check out my blog,


    The blog is dedicated to raising the visibility of the US contribution to worldwide scientific research.

  • Don M.

    Thanks Jim, all of you US/LHC bloggers are, in my opinion, amazing! I’am in my mid 70’s with no (nada) physics background (well maybe a “B” in high school), and you bloggers have made the CERN experiments somewhat understandable and definitely interesting.

    Thanks again to all, Don

  • Don M.

    OK Jim, first dumb question. If something has “no spatial extent”, how do we get something (i.e a proton) from what I assume is nothing? It it possible that quarks are really “energy types” that that turn into something in certain combinations?


  • Jeff Mahr

    Thank you for such a plain language explanation! I have been following this blog off and on for a while, and while very interesting, the posts tend to be over my head when it comes to the science…I still don’t know what all those experiments are looking for (and to the other posters – please don’t stop, this is a frustration born of my ignorance). I am sure you are aware of this, but there are a whole lot of people keeping on eye on things over there, waiting for “the” announcement. My co-workers and I (we teach Biology at a community college) are really excited by this, but its funny that when we go to talk about specifics (“what are they really looking for”) none of us has a clue (proof of dark matter? anti particles? pieces of quarks? gravitons?). We have no clue what “the” announcement would be about. Anyhow, a plain-english description of the different experiments would be awesome (and devoured I am sure), however I am aware that there may be other things occupying your time (preventing black holes? developing next generation cloaking devices? turning lead into gold?). Thanks again.

  • Joe Tuggle

    Go Jim! Way to generate some comments. :-)

  • Stephen Brooks

    Don M.: quantum theory does this because in it, “point particles” are actually probability distributions that may be spread through a finite amount of space. The size of an electron orbital in an atom is determined from the strength of the force attracting it to the nucleus.

    Also on the periodic table, 110 = Uun not Unn

  • http://mesothelioma-prognosis.info Alexander Jack

    can i use above periodic table for assignment?

  • U.M.

    How will I use this in real life?

  • peassse

    Use your brain.

  • Jim Hirschauer

    Hi Don,

    Thanks very much for your kind words. This is an excellent question.

    First let me clarify one possibly misleading statement that I made: We don’t know whether the quark (or electron) has zero radius or just a really, really small radius. Our current theory assumes that they have zero radius, but if we discover that to be false, we will change the theory. (We assume zero radius for now because it is simple and there is no evidence to the contrary.) However, even if quarks and electrons really are point particles with no spatial extent, that doesn’t imply that they are “nothing.” Indeed, we have already experimentally observed that these particles have other well-defined properties such as mass and electric charge.

    We know that the proton has some physical size because Hofstadter measured it in the 1950’s. We have also been trying to determine whether the electron and quark have spatial extent (or are made up of smaller particles), but so far we have been unsuccessful. For instance, we currently can only conclude that, if the electron has a non-zero radius, it must be smaller than 1/10,000,000 the radius of the proton. I’ll write more about how we do this in my next post.

    So to conclude: we would say that quarks are elementary particles [with mass, charge, and undetectable (possibly zero) radius] which combine to make up protons, neutrons, pions, etc.

    I hope this helps.



  • Jim Hirschauer

    Hi Stephen,

    Thanks for your interest. You are absolutely correct that the position (or momentum, etc.) of any particle is described by a probability amplitude or wave function in quantum mechanics (QM).

    You are also correct that the QM nature of composite particles (particles that are made up of other particles) like protons and atoms complicates the measurement of their size. It would be nice if the notion of the “radius of the proton” were concrete, but because of QM, it is the root-mean-square charge radius of the proton that is experimentally accessible. Similarly, if we want to discuss the size of an atom, we find ourselves thinking about the fuzzy boundary described by the electron orbital that you mention.

    Let me clarify one thing you mentioned and in the process cross (or at least tread close to) the border between physics and philosophy: The probabilistic description of the position of the electron doesn’t imply that the electron has non-zero radius. The electron orbital tells us the probability of finding the electron in an atom at a given position. The probability of finding the electron anywhere in a one-Angstrom neighborhood about the nucleus is about 100%, but that doesn’t mean that the electron radius is one Angstrom.

    Thanks again for your helpful comments.



    P.S. I have NO idea what the name of element 110 is. :) Wikipedia confirms that the symbol for Ununnilium should be Uun, not Unn. In any case, the element is now formally named Darmstadtium (Ds).

  • Jim Hirschauer

    Hi Alexander, Richard, and anyone else looking for a periodic table,

    I took this image from http://www.elementsdatabase.com/ where they write:
    “Our periodic table information can be useful for chemistry and physics students, as well as science researchers.” So I think it is fine to use. Please notice the mistake pointed out by Stephen Brooks: element 110 should be Uun or Ds, but not Unn.



  • Jim Hirschauer

    Hi U.M.,

    Great question!

    I agree that a direct application of fundamental research like that performed at the LHC is not immediately obvious. However, the history of science is teeming with seemingly abstract discoveries resulting in practical technologies. One of my favorite examples is Einstein’s general theory of relativity: When the theory was first published in 1915, it’s unlikely anyone envisioned it would be crucial to an important technology in the short term, but only 60 years later the Global Positioning System (GPS), for which knowledge of relativity is absolutely necessary, was under development. Without corrections for the effects of relativity, GPS measurements of position would stray from the actual position by about 10 km per day!

    Thanks for posting.



  • Polly Putnam

    Thank you so much for this. It actually helped me understand things that I thought I never, ever would. It’s all so exciting!


  • http://www.lepp.cornell.edu/~jmt275/ Josh

    Very nice, Jim!

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWUeBSoEnRk tyler2

    When speaking of quarks and what the matter is made from, I think tis should be added: the protons and neutrons, which constitute > 99.9% of all the mass around us, are made of up and down quarks. However, these quarks are very light – their (Higgs coupling) mass is few MeVs only, compared to nearly 1GeV mass of a proton or a neutron – order of 1000x more!

    Where does a proton or a neutron mass (and therefore virtually all the mass we perceive) come from? It comes from binding energy of the quarks, the strong force which holds the quarks together.

    In another words, over 99.9% of all the mass we come in contact with is not mass of elementary particles, but a mass of the strong field.

  • http://www.facebook.com/CBS31337H Fujimia Yoneda


    Hmm…this is interesting post about Quarks its great Jim & welcome ^_^ anyway if Quarks is combination of particles then we can see it right ??? because Quarks is combination of particles attach by Gluon under high temperature…so if thats true the probability to see QGP inside collision chamber using same technology as powerfull telescope is high…^_^

  • Don M.

    Hi Jim, Thanks for your response to my question. You said that quarks are “elementary”, I assume that means they are not made up from anything else. If thats the case how do they get their flavors (up, down, etc.), or is that just the way they are and there is nothing else?

    Don M.

  • http://home.fnal.gov/~jhirsch/ Jim Hirschauer

    Hello again, Don. Sorry for the slow response. Yes, by “elementary” I mean that quarks are not made up of anything else. Your excellent question amounts to: “If quarks are elementary, how can there be variety?” This is just what I was getting at in my post when I mentioned that the variety of elements told us that atoms are not elementary, and the variety of mesons (pions, kaons) and baryons (protons, neutrons) told us that those particles are not elementary. You’re asking the exact same question that physicists are asking. Unfortunately, this question remains unanswered.

    Our current theory assumes that quarks are elementary, and so your question of why quarks come in a variety of flavors is answered with this unsatisfying non-answer: “It is the nature of quarks to have flavor.” Just so you don’t think we are completely incompetent, I can assure you that this theory’s description of how quarks and other particles behave, given their flavors, has been a screaming success in most ways. There are a few loose ends (including your question) which tell us that our theories are not complete. -Jim

  • http://home.fnal.gov/~jhirsch/ Jim Hirschauer

    Hi, Tyler2. You are absolutely correct: most of the proton mass comes from QCD not the mass of the proton’s valence quarks. While this is very interesting, I think it is an issue separate from whether quarks are elementary particles. Regardless, I think you have given one of these US LHC bloggers a good idea for a future post … Thanks! – Jim

  • Dean

    We keep trying to find out what one subatomic particle is made of but it never satisfies the one true question I’m sure most have. Eventually, we will hit a dead end and find that we have discovered the smallest particle there is (which could be quarks), the question will still remain. How did those quarks come into existence? We keep asking how are things made, but we defer to just trying to find a smaller particle to explain how the “bigger” one came to be. i.e. Lead is made of atoms, atoms are made of baryons and baryons are made of quarks. When we hit the smallest unit, what are we going to do? Where did that small fundamental building block for everything that we know today come from? It is stated that matter can neither be created nor destroyed, only transformed. But how was that matter created in the first place? Can matter be created from nothing?! Something created from nothing would be irrational. And trying to rationalize something that is irrational is being irrational in itself. So, is the question, “How was matter created in the first place?” an irrational question or is there an irrational answer for it that, obviously, cannot be rationalized? Whatever it is, and I’d hate to say this, but, math and logic may be out of its league for this one. Unless there’s something our minds just can’t yet comprehend. Its a humbling concept, and I’m caught in its frustrating allure and mystery :/

  • http://www.cbs.ac.in Vivek Chaurasia

    Hi! i m very much delighted to be here and reading u’r blog!!very impressive indeed!

  • Shayantan Chaudhuri

    Matter can be created from nothing. There has been proof that the vacuum is alive and has short energy bursts. In these bursts matter and antimatter are both created

  • Joshua

    Where did the particles that comprised that vacuum come from?



  • http://google.com Roberto

    I think that you are absolutely right that the real truth might be soemthing that our minds cannot yet comprehend. that is the only logical answer to all of this. otherwise the true elementary particle is impossible

  • Solomon Deathshead

    So many folks are probably wondering what quarks and electrons are made out of. I think the physicists will eventually discover that they’re made of butter. Just like the moon is made out of ribs.

  • Conner

    Hi Jim, well u know how u said that quarks are made of nothing, is there a possibility that quarks are simply made from inter-dimensional energy?

  • Conner

    And I’m being completely serious.

  • James

    Perhaps quarks could be split or fused to releae more energy then atoms in nuclear fission.

  • Elias Atomos

    Why are there only 6 types (flavors) of quarks? Has any research uncovered the possibility of other quarks existing?

  • Gregory

    Ultimately, if we discover the fundamental particle, we’re still faced with a conundrum: Of what is that particle comprised?

    Some say “energy”, but then we have to ask of what energy is comprised.

    If matter is merely a fancily arranged portion of energy tweaked and tuned so it takes on the shape of an atom with all of its inner parts fully functioning, then what is this “energy” which is capable of wearing a wide variety of costumes and playing many roles?

    I guess my question is more akin to philosophy than physics, because I doubt we will ever discover the true nature and composition of the energy by which all things consist.

  • Science boy

    what about string theory I believe that these quarks are made out of tiny strings of light

  • Conner

    And so my theory about Quarks binging comprised of inter-dementional energy could be viable, I think… Just think about it

  • Søren Schauser

    Hi Jim. Thanks for a great post. One question: Most fermions, leptons and bosons in the Standard Model have different and pretty well-defined qualities. When those particles in the very beginning ‘condensed’ from the unified state – how did they get the same qualities? Why do quarks for instance have only six different masses, not a more or less infinite broad range of masses?

  • Søren Schauser

    Or if I may re-phrase: I understand that the early photons during Pnack-epoch collided and resulted in virtual pair-production. I also understand that this lead to a foam of primordial black holes – which again ended up as a foam of spacetime and lumps of GUT matter. What I don’t get, is how symmetry-breaking continued by making those lumps to leptons and especially a huge amount of quarcks with exactly the same properties? If hard matter as well as bosons were built of some sort ‘smallest possible Planck unit’, I could somehow see why :) But what governs how the relatively few kinds of particles and fields in the Standard Model endned up having so many copies? Thanks, Søren

  • Patrick

    What if energy/matter/all was created by consciousness? that living/conscious vortex perhaps god? Maby we ARE all one every living thing a piece of god itself and all matter the building blocks in which we create all things, and remember we do not contain the imagination to sence what we are missing, or do we?

  • sree kumar

    I was very much delighted to read the various interactions on this subject. It is another chicken or egg question. The basic problem is that we are trying to comprehend something beyond the scope of our
    mind and intelligence. If there is no subject where is the object. Our consciousness makes matter which is evolved in sigle plane of vibrating frequency. There are billions and billions of frquency planes and their permutation combinations. The assemblage of various energy schemes and their permutation combination as in simple digital systems is mind boggling. We see the things as we are. We are not sure about anything. We are conditioned to understand this much only. Well concepts, and concept of that concept until we reach the dead end again. The universe is a manifestation in a sigle plane of energy assemblage suited to our systems. We are not endowed with the tools required to know the royal secret of cration. We shall search within we will be enlightened for we are an infinismal part of That hologram. Lots of love Sree

  • Tyler Winkler

    So I’m just a high school student who has always been very curious about the way the world works. Which has brought me to this blog. But the thing that really I don’t understand is, if there are these very tiny particles that might not have any spatial value at all, then how can we think? If all we are are these tiny dots that are “invisible” then how can are thoughts exists along side these particles? Are our thoughts some kind of different matter that can just “float” in our minds and that can “connect” with these “invisible” dots where then our brain can make sense of it. And saying this, I know it probally won’t make any sense to anyone, but as I said I’m a high school student. This is the basics of what I understand. If anyone knows or understands what I’m talking about fell free to email me at [email protected]. I am very interested in this subject and would love to hear anyone else’s thoughts on this.

  • Tyler Winkler

    Well I do not think that it’s not our minds that can’t comprehend the true answer, I just think that we are asking the wrong questions. I mean think about this, if a licensed teacher wasn’t the one to tell you that everything is made out of atoms, would you really believe anyone else? Based on that concept alone I think that is mind blowing. But then to tell me that atoms are made of BILLIONS of even smaller particles, at that point I wouldn’t even believe my own father if he told me that. That’s just the way I see things anyway.

  • Patrick Taylor

    Soren then is the first time I have ever seen these forums, I honestly love the open thinking…. But I have a sort analogy to propose. Have you ever played those games where you are given several pictures and then asked to identify the ones alike or the ones different, now some people are able to do that easier then others. My point is that maybe, just maybe there are only six different masses because we have extended are knowledge to notice that only 6 different particles are there! Now I already know that I am more then likely going to be disproven, but I am a sophomore in Highschool and just decided, hey why not input my little idea!

  • Kevin Marston

    I had a very interesting idea not too long ago.
    It’s very similar to the basis of computer data, which essentially can be boiled down to 1’s and 0s. These data, when arranged in different patterns, yield different results.
    Knowing this, I also realized that as far as I knew, the organization for how atoms worked was very random; a small change in the number of electrons, protons, or neutrons could be the difference between a harmless substance and a deadly poison.
    These gave me the idea that possibly, somewhere possibly far smaller than even quarks, all matter would eventually come to some impossibly singular unit that somehow led to the impressively variant reactions between atoms and other subatomic particles, and that this unit (there would be only one kind) would create these differences in the same basic way as computer data; 1s and 0s. However, with this, the 1s would be the presence of this unit and the 0s would be the absence of it. With this simple concept, and the incredibly massive amount of patterns that it could create (expanding in 3d, as our world is 3d) would lead to all the properties and reactions of matter in the universe.
    Please feel free to email me at [email protected] if you don’t understand what I’m saying (I can be a bit wordy at times, I’ll admit.)
    And please excuse my very basic understanding of quarks and such. After all, I’m only in 8th Grade. :)

  • http://none Keshav Jhawar

    If quarks are point particles with zero radius, then even infinite quarks in a proton would not suffice for making it complete. Being point particles , they have to have a very very very small radius which cannot be calculated using the machines available today. Thus, would you kindly tell me the reason for which yo have used the term “ZERO RADIUS” because you are most knowledgeable than me in this fiels as I am merely a high school student.
    If there is any thing that you would like me to understand please do send a mail on [email protected] and I shall be most grateful to you

  • http://none Keshav Jhawar

    It is just like rooms in a house. A house may have 6 rooms so the area per head is more. However if there are 6 people in the house, so the per head are is 1/6 or the total area.
    Similarly quarks may not provide enough energy that an atom produces.
    I may be wrong but that is what i think should be the fact. Please correct me if I am wrong

  • http://nil sivajayakumar

    The quarks constitute an invisible triangle. The gluon being the line of force connecting the quarks, acts as photon in the streaks of light. Therefore, the up triangle and the down triangle of the proton and the neutron are linked together. therein lives the stronger force. in gold 79 protons are connected to 79 neutrons. therefor, if gluon by itself is to bear the stronger force, then whether the mere spilit in the proton itself ctreate explosion?

  • http://without Horia Chivulescu

    Dear Sir ,
    I am an old man(71)charmed by Phisics and nonreligious . Please let me show my supposition :
    If not quarks , maybe another , smaller particle , could be made of pure energy , so to finish looking for the smalest particles ! Einstein admitted that : E = mc2 . That also allow to concentrate the Universe in a mathematical point(Big Bang)since the energy has no dimensions !
    Also the temperature(which is the intensity of mouvement of particles)will lose the sense in absence of matter . So , the Big Bang could be a cosmical transformation of energy into matter . Of course , rises the question : “which is the source of the energy ?” I have a single answer : “something inconceivable that nonscientist people resign to call the God”
    Maybe the study of energy fields will reveal the secret of matter ?

  • Ivy

    I’m 11 years old and I’m really interested in science. When I grow up, I want to discover new things. I just wanted to say you did such an excellent job. This kind of thing is usually hard for 11 year olds to understand, but I got it perfectly. Thanks!

  • http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00A8X5H16?tag=driyawijaya-20 M. E. Isma’eel

    In my Book titled; The Last Chapter of the Symphony of Existence (The Super Unified Field Theory), you will find the dimensions of all types of Quarks. Also, this book will radically change the track of the research work of Theoretical Physics, Particle Physics and Cosmology in this century, and considered, in the same time, a Paradigm Shift in the human thought. This book will help you in understanding the universe, the matter, the antimatter, the religion, the destiny of mankind and the objectives of our creation, as Einstein said; “Science without religion is lame, and religion without science is blind.”

  • http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00A8X5H16?tag=driyawijaya-20 M. E. Isma’eel

    Please note that, this is not publicity for the book, and I’m willing to submit a short presentation for the entire book (19.5 MB). Of course, if you are looking, faithfully, for “the scientific truth” as well as the “absolute truth”. With regards.

  • Nathan White

    I just read this and believe your on the way to discoverini g the meaning of life itself.

  • Nathan White

    I would love to read your work so I can further my knowledge in quarks. I believe we’re waisting time looking into space when the answtoer to life is clearly within these quarks. We need to keep going smaller to see the bigger picture.

  • Bruno

    Nice post just please don’t say quarks have 0 radius that sounds silly… if it had 0 radius it would simply not exist. It has a very small radius yes but not 0. :)

    As for dimensions and the question about the possibility of existing an even smaller particle I have no idea why scientists tend to assume any particle they discover can’t be made of even smaller particles… size is really irrelevant, just because it looks small to us it doesn’t mean it is the smallest, it is just small in OUR perspective. In the perspective of a quark, an atom is huge…

    I’m pretty sure there are particles billions of times smaller than quarks which are made of even smaller ones, there’s no reason to assume there is a limitation just because we want it to be, as far as we know it could just extend forever like Pi does as we must assume this is the rule unless there is reason in contrary rather than believe we reached the limit unless proof in contrary… :)

    Manipulating quarks allows us to transform matter into any type of matter or energy, as we go deeper we’ll be able to manipulate dimensions previously unknown to us as the exotic materials we can create will have unusual physical properties. Of course this is probably centuries away but we’ll get there.

    In another point, we also don’t know how big the universe is or what lies beyond and maybe an universe is just the size of a quark in another perspective… we just don’t know. In our ignorance of what reality truly is, I’d prefer to avoid terms like “limitation”, “impossible”, etc. We’re too ignorant to use those terms. :)

  • Bob S

    Great blog, very thought provoking! I’m really interested in the effects extreme gravity would have on quarks.

    My question references black holes in relation to the effects of their gravity ripping apart matter to the quark level. For arguments sake, lets set frame dragging aside and assume since black holes gain mass that it’s not a hole but a sphere. So at some point, gravity is ripping matter apart, is it plausible that gravity could break down a proton into its quarks and pull quarks down and compress them into a shpehrical structure? Quarks whether engery or particle couldn’t escape and you can’t lose the information, would it neatly compact the quarks into whatever element extreme pressure and temp would create?

    I am assuming that if you can smash two protons togeter in the LHC, then gravity can compress two protons togeter into its quarks.

  • VM

    Why is Higgs Boson not showing in the elementary particles diagram above ?

  • Peter M

    Most of the subatomic charts date back before the higgs boson was discovered at LHC.

  • Gary Merritt

    I think the real question is why there is something instead of nothing. This has always been answered by the god answer. Then the question is where did god come from. But a god is not needed it is only an extra step, an excuse why there is no answer. We just have to admit there is no answer, all we can say is there is something and work from there. As far as we can go at present is to say we have quarks and they appear to be point sources of energy with no radius. At this point the particle theory breaks down. How can we have a particle if it has no radius. I believe a quark is a vortex in the space aether and energy should be defined as any movement in this space either. It is the space aether which is the basic substance. We will never know where it came from we can only say for sure it exist. The six different flavors of quarks can be defined as different vortex structures and how we perceive then. It may be the way they connect together that makes them look different. It may be a single quark can not exist, it needs to be connected to other quarks to maintain it’s vortex. The vortex of space aether appears to be a particle but needs no radius as the radius is space aether and gradually becomes and is connected to the aether.In other words it’s radius is all of space.


  • adrian

    what made the first thing or chemical in the world?

  • Alan

    If, as some cosmologists believe, the Universe is infinite at a macro level, could it also be infinite at the other end of the scale with quarks being made of another, smaller sub-atomic particle, and those particles being made of even smaller particles, and so on, ad infinitum?

  • Elisabeth Caskey

    Have there been scientific papers published that describe the current ideas about the size of quarks? I am writing a paper and I need to properly footnote that the size of quarks has not been determined, but are thought to be infinitesimally small, with a wave function describing their location with respect to the particle that they constitute.
    Thank you.

  • Shu

    Hi guys, of all the physics forums I’ve visited, this is the best. There’s freedom of opinion, clarity of subject and most of all no-one tries to prove something with just delirious mathematics and equations.
    Being nonreligious, I’m still disturbed about the answer to the final question everyone here,including me, is pondering over : WHERE DID IT ALL COME FROM ? If we keep asking questions along these lines, all the while making discoveries beyond atoms, beyond quarks, beyond strings…., where will it all end up ? A dead end like someone said ? This will mean that either the human brain can go no further OR that it all began with magic, otherwise known as GOD ! Just think about it. Personally, I cannot conceive of a way out.
    As if that weren’t enough to warp one’s brain, I got another slightly-off- topic- question about the universe that I continually keep asking myself “WHAT IS IT ALL ABOUT ?! “

  • Rohit Patil

    Science has discovered that matter is made up of atoms, atoms are made up of fundamental particles proton, electron, neutron. also that these fundamental particles are made up of quarks. So my question is what are quarks made up of? quark also is a bulky because it has mass. Something must be there inside the quarks and then inside and deep inside . I think that this chain will never end.

  • Aaron

    The more I read the more I see the elegance in that the smallest appears to be a repeat of the biggest at a different scale. The coolest question will always be why… but my God I would love to know what quarks are made of!!! lol

  • Anonymous

    Isn’t that what string theory is(sort of)?

  • Anonymous

    The “point-like particles” have to have some mass and take up some space. I honestly don’t think it’s feasible to have something that takes up no space.

  • Anonymous

    I honestly don’t think there is a such thing as dimensions. But, I could be wrong!

  • Jimmy12345

    We can observe fractals in nature and also describe them mathematically. Since we use numbers to describe all the rules and laws of nature, I think it is definitely worth considering that the universe might be a fractal itself.

  • Tyler Allen

    this is an old thread but I found my way here today. I think of these things on a day to day basis and find myself wondering, am I normal? why does no one I know talk about these things that seem so important to me? I really don’t think it’s a matter of opinion whether or not these things are important, I think they are truly important. so why are so many people caught up in today’s world and totally oblivious to all of this? ignorance truly is bliss and I really wish sometimes that I had that blissful ignorance so that I may sleep better at night not pondering the deepest questions of the universe. its a gift and a curse I guess but it’s good to read these posts and know that there are others out there like me.

  • BigRalphSmith

    No dimensions? We’ve got four of them we can directly observe. There’s also mathematical models that describes yet more dimensions. One of those models describes 11 dimensions. Still other models describe even more.

  • Kurtis Long

    Does anyone know which experiment it was, that while shooting quarks at a screen they stayed in a straight line beam to the screen, but when the scientists left the cameras caught them basically going everywhere?

  • Kurtis Long

    My Advice: Don’t Keep looking deeper and deeper, trying to find smaller and smaller and smaller. We should stop at Quarks for awhile and discover their “usefulness” first. What is the point in finding another smaller thing that has mass if these hold no value, neither would the next smaller one… and next smaller and next smaller…etc…They will always have mass or they wouldn’t be in the physical plane/realm

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7BO_hqe_q0 Alone: bad. Friend: good!
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7BO_hqe_q0 Alone: bad. Friend: good!

    There are no quarks like they say there are.
    A quark would have to be connected to other quarks in only specific arrangements.
    There would have to be multiple connection mechanisms that only allow those certain arrangements.

    A red can only connect to one blue and one green.
    If a red is connected to a blue, another blue (or red) is not allowed.
    A blue can only connect to a green and a red etc.

    To form correctly they would need a fairly large set of rules, but that cannot be because it is basic stuff working at a fundamental (simple) level.
    And everything would of course have to work and form automatically.

    As a group quarks are called a Neutron or a Proton and they also have to be connected to each other (but the connection would actually be coming from a quark) proton is only the name for a group. That’s another specific type connection mechanism

    And they would have to be connected to the electrons supposedly in orbit. That’s another specific type connection mechanism.
    Stuff is not happening like that. It would require at least 5 different type connection mechanisms.
    I bet you cannot even think of two. You cannot say “force” because any force has to be made out of particles and that does not solve the problem. The force particles would still need connection mechanisms.
    Do you have even one way particles can connect at a quantum level? Ummm… no, you don’t.

    And if you add “gluons” into the stupidity, you get the same type of mess.
    But it does show how if there is a mechanism the gluons are not needed because the mechanism must be built into the particles.

    NOTE: It doesn’t matter how they explain “color charge”. The point is they think there are 3 different things inside a proton (or neutron) and they are held together in a specific arrangement. If you can think about it in depth you will realize that is completely impossible.
    The explanation (they give) is the only way to explain an incorrect model. But the model and the explanation are both impossible.
    And if you have an incorrect model and an incorrect explanation you can call it counterintuitive — that’s a way to allow anything, even magic. ..

    How do 3 quarks know that is the correct number for a proton / neutron?
    Why do not 4 quarks combine?
    Is there an instruction set / manual at that level specifically for particles?
    No! …everything has to be automatic.
    Think about it, how do quarks know to only combine in groups of three?
    The answer is… they don’t, the mainstream quark model is incorrect

  • New_Sun

    What is the point of stopping the search and waiting to find usefulness of the current tier of fundamental particles? Science and discovery is a collaboration, you can and will have many teams with different focuses.

    Who knows whether Quarks will remain “useless”, but maybe the undiscovered particles that make them up have a property that is significantly “valuable.” If so, then progress will have been halted and time wasted.

    All goals of discovery should be treated as valuable and worth obtaining.

  • dragonf1re96

    I’ve always considered atoms to be like solar systems, after all physics are the everywhere.

  • dragonf1re96

    Democritus probably thought in the same way.

  • dragonf1re96

    There is no point in one knowing if one is the only one

  • dragonf1re96

    Energy does distort perhaps we perceive that as solidity.

  • dragonf1re96

    You are not wrong, a dimension is not something real it is made up to categorize a phenomenon that we do not understand.

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7BO_hqe_q0 Alone: bad. Friend: good!
  • dragonf1re96

    If you believe in the big bang the I’d suppose the only way to answer your questions would be to observe it, but if we could do that we’d probably already know.

  • dragonf1re96

    Based on Newton’s laws everything is on a set path

  • dragonf1re96

    … In theory, but more likely we can not yet perceive what causes form.

  • dragonf1re96

    God is only necessary if there is a beginning sort-of like an activation energy.

  • dragonf1re96

    Energy and mass are one in the same bit it is more complex than that, Einstien was quite vague.

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7BO_hqe_q0 Alone: bad. Friend: good!

    Nope, go to that link and read it.

  • dragonf1re96

    Ps. Energy is singular if you understand how equations work, in other words: it is on its own side of the equation (by it’s self).

  • dragonf1re96

    Pss. An equation is not one whole, but two wholes that “equal” eachother.

    Sorry for being rude, but I feel that it is warranted.

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7BO_hqe_q0 Alone: bad. Friend: good!

    Sorry, you have absolutely no idea of what energy is, but neither does anyone else for that matter.


    You do not understand equations either

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7BO_hqe_q0 Alone: bad. Friend: good!

    Sorry, you have absolutely no idea of what energy is, but neither does anyone else for that matter.


    You do not understand equations either…

  • dragonf1re96

    On the rel right now bruh: energy and mass are the same thing—–E=mc^2

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7BO_hqe_q0 Alone: bad. Friend: good!

    You are an imbecile. The mass in multiplied by the speed of light squared c^2

    Here it is really easy for you…
    E = mc^2 … correct

    E =/= m ….. E is not equal to m

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7BO_hqe_q0 Alone: bad. Friend: good!
  • dragonf1re96

    Energy not beyond the speed of light has a measured mass bruh YOu ARe A JIVE TURKEY over some semantic, who makes science UNfun

  • Kurtis Long

    I agree with you on the principle of what you are saying only because of the time aspect, but I ask you this if you don’t know what the big machine is for, yet you think pressing the small buttons to find out their usefulness (what they are used for) is important; try imagining doing that in the cab of a combine, a 747, or the desk at the Hoover dam, maybe perhaps a nuclear reactor? Send me in blindfolded to your latest project and let me start rummaging around to find out the usefulness of things because it might save me time using them in the future. Now, if you first know it’s a combine, or a 747, or a dam & have studied how it works, then maybe you press buttons. This I do know the first atom bombs used had larger particles than the later more explosive Hydrogen ones.
    Maybe poking needle sized black holes in the fabric of reality (space/time) isn’t such a big deal. Then again poke a wine sack from days passed filled with water, repeatedly with a needle, sure on the outside of the fabric we know it’s not going to end pretty, but if we were a microbe swimming around on the inside, it might be too late by the time we realize there is a major problem.
    Of course I understand why theoretical physics keeps imagining the possible existence of another, and another particle not truly observed but inferred by things that are seen….: At this point I have three clear choices 1. I can point out a pathetic attempt to keep talking about more and more imaginary things just to stay working and getting paid. 2. Understand that science has reached a point in understanding that is no better or worse than other religions; having the possible existence of something unseen be real because of what is seen (Faith?) or 3. Sit back and make up more and more possible stuff, until it becomes impossible and you have to change to a new science, or a new way of doing science, just like has been done over and over again. In deep honesty though, I am hoping that we get some major unified theory of everything we can use at a whim, to make the world a better place…even doing what you said…I just don’t want us to slip and destroy ourselves in the process. I at one point suggested maybe we should wait until we are in intergalactic space and figure out how to seal, (fix), or what ever a blackhole (gravitronic tachyon missles?), BEFORE we start blasting away creating pin sized Black holes in our own atmosphere, reality, or what ever with Super Colliders trying to find ever smaller and smaller particles. Is that so ludicrous as to know how to fix something before you tear it apart…no matter how small those parts may be?

  • Rj Kietchen

    Yes, completely ludicrous. With billions of units of unused human potentiality there is a fantastic amount of untapped capacity for theoretical, imaginative, investigatory research in new areas, utilitarian development for known areas, practical building, and an untold number of scientific observations. The focus should be on drastically EXPANDING all areas of investigation, not putting your head in a bag because one area is not well understood.

  • Mick

    I’ve been thinking that for a while. Not having measurable mass because they are transient, connecting one dimension to the other. If someone can explain it in a better way, feel free.