PhysicsLAB Lab
Basic Particles

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In particle physics researchers and scientists are unceasingly searching for "How does the universe work?" This question can be broken into two parts:
  1. What are the basic objects?
  2. What are the basic forces?
In order to understand the reasoning involved with these questions, attempt to solve the puzzle below in which black figures are observed, while white figures are not observed. The puzzle involves two questions.
  1. What are the shapes (basic objects) from which the observed figures are constructed? 
  2. What are the rules for connecting (basic forces) the shapes?
Notice that the same two shapes can be used to form both the "observed" and the "not observed" figures. Consequently, it must be the connecting rules which lead to some figures being observed and others not being observed. Remember that you can learn as much from considering what is not observed (white figures) as from what is observed (black figures).
What are the two basic shapes in this "particle universe?"

What is the rule for how these fundamental shapes are used to form particles?

Choose two "unobserved" particles and explain why they are impossible to form.


Puzzle adapted from Helen Quinn
"Of Quarks, Antiquarks, and Glue,"
The Stanford Magazine, Fall, 1983, p. 29
Topics in Modern Physics, May 1990
Catching the Sun, 1992, Fermilab

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