Bossy Boson: a Webcomic about Particle Physics

Sticky Quarks

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Sticky Quarks Yup, OK. Terrible joke. Pretty accurate, though: quarks are indeed “sticky.” So sticky, indeed, that they can’t separate themselves from each other. It is physically impossible to observe a single quark: they come in pairs or in threes … Read More

Quark Color

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Just like electrons have charge, quarks have color. Of course, they are not actual colors: those are simply wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation. We call them colors because there are three of them, so it seemed a good way to label … Read More

The Pauli Exclusion Principle

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The Pauli Exclusion Principle You may have heard that matter is 99.999% empty space. If that is the case, why doesn’t matter go through other matter? There are two pieces to the answer: the first one is the electrical repulsion … Read More

Black Hole Merger at LIGO

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The black hole merger at LIGO You’ve probably read it in the news: this Thursday, LIGO is going to announce it has detected a black hole merger. What is it exactly and how is it detected? A black hole merger … Read More

Electron-positron annihilation

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Electron-positron annihilation Every particle has its antiparticle, which is an exact copy of itself with opposite charge. Sometimes antiparticles have special names, like the positron, the anti-particle of the electron. Sometimes those names are boring: the muon has the anti-muon, the neutrino has the anti-neutrino and so on. Because particles and … Read More

Electron Handedness

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  Electron handedness Would the mirror image of our universe behave in the same way as our universe? The short answer is “no”: particles that are “reflected” have slightly different properties than their counterparts, which means that our reflected universe … Read More

Forces Do not Exist

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  Forces do not exist Most people first hear about forces in high school, with Newton. But the reality is that forces do not exist. Instead, what we have is something similar to particle physics tennis: two particles exchange another one … Read More

300 Trillion Neutrinos Walk into a Bar

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  Neutrinos are a type of fermion which has no charge and is extremely light, so much so that most physicists believed it had no mass until quite recently. The thing about neutrinos is that they barely interact with anything: … Read More

Why Did the Electron Cross the Road?

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  One of the most surprising properties of elementary particles is that they can be in several places at the same time, at least until they are observed. This happens because particles behave also as waves and, just like those, … Read More

What are Protons Made of?

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What are protons made of? Popular wisdom says they are made of three quarks: two up quarks and a down quark. However, reality is much messier: quarks are held together by the strong force, which is mediated by a particle called the gluon. The gluon sticks to everything: all … Read More

Bloody Bosons

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  Bosons and fermions behave quite differently. It is impossible for two fermions to ever be in the same sate: that’s why electrons in atom must have different orbits and not stay all in the lower-energy one which, in turn, … Read More

Guess the Quark

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Ordinary matter is made of atoms with a massive nucleus surrounded by a cloud of electrons. The nucleus is, in turn, made of two types of particles: protons and neutrons. These are much heavier than electrons, so much so that we … Read More

Guess the Boson

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Ever wondered why two positive charges repel each other? It turns out that tiny particles called bosons are responsible for that. Each positively charged particle is constantly giving off photons, which are the particles that make up light: when one of those … Read More