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

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

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