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What Are Quarks?

Quarks are a type of elementary particle that make up the fundamentals of all other subatomic particles, that is, protons and neutrons, which in order make up atoms.

We are all aware that most matter is made up of atoms, which consist of protons and neutrons. But what are those particles made of? Is there anything smaller? There is, and those particles are known as quarks. Quarks are a type of elementary particle that make up the fundamentals of all other subatomic particles.

They are what make up protons and neutrons, which in order make up atoms. The branch of physics that studies quarks is called particle physics. Quarks also have their antiparticles, called antiquarks. Quarks and antiquarks can interact with one another using all four fundamental forces of physics: strong and weak interactions, electromagnetism, and gravitation.

The Constituents Of All Matter

According to physicists, quarks are the fundamental constituent of all matter. They are similar to electrons and other leptons in that they do not have a structure, and they seem almost indivisible. Their size is extremely small, and it is practically impossible even to try to estimate it.

The easiest way would be to compare them with protons, and using that line of thought, we can say that the radius of a quark is 2,000 times smaller than the radius of a proton. You are wondering how small is a proton exactly? Well, let’s just say that the radius of a proton is 2.4 trillion times smaller than a grain of sand.

The first time quarks were mentioned was in 1964 by Murray Gell-Mann, a theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology. He was also, amongst others, responsible for the development of the Standard Model of particle physics and subsequently won a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1969.

Diagram Of An Atom (includes electrons, nucleus, protons, neutrons, up quarks, down quarks and gluons)
Diagram Of An Atom (includes electrons, nucleus, protons, neutrons, up quarks, down quarks and gluons).

He suggested that the explanation of the properties of protons and neutrons required for us to start thinking about smaller particles that they are made of. Experiments were conducted from 1967 to 1973, and the existence of quarks was finally proven. What made this hard was the fact that quarks can be observed, but it is impossible to isolate them. This makes them different from electrons. 

Types Of Quarks

We divide quarks into six types or flavors. The flavor is a term used by physicists when they refer to the species of an elementary particle. The six flavors are up (u), down (d), strange (s), charm ©, bottom (b), and top (t). Each flavor has a designated antiparticle, and we denote those by putting a bar over the symbol used for the corresponding quark. For example, the antiquark for the up quark is the up antiquark, and its symbol is ū. As is the case with all antimatter, antiquarks share the same spin, mass, and average lifetime as their corresponding quarks.

This classification of quarks is based on their mass. They also have a quality we call color, but in this context, it is used to describe the strength of the force that is holding quarks together. The color of the quarks, meaning their force, is carried by gluons, an elementary particle that acts like an exchange particle or a messenger. Physicists are currently working on investigating this relationship between quarks and gluons. They are also starting to wonder if perhaps there is a particle smaller than a quark, but that question probably will not be answered for quite some time.

What are quarks?

Quarks are a type of elementary particle that make up the fundamentals of all other subatomic particles, that is, protons and neutrons, which in order make up atoms.

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