Science is very bizarre. If you took the force of gravity and compared it to a random household object, you would probably see them as very different. But apparently, gravity is no different than the object. You see, everything (and I mean everything) is made up of particles.
The Standard Model:
There are numerous different particles. How can one expect to classify them all? Well, this is why scientists devised a theory that grouped all known particles into a single model known as the Standard Model. It’s somewhat akin to a periodic table of the particles. The Standard Model incorporates all the particles that constitute matter, the particles that regulate forces, and the single Higgs boson particle that is so different from the others. The Standard Model is divided into columns and groups. The first three columns (or generations) represent the particles that make up different types of matter. The first column is the most abundant type, however. The fourth column is where the gauge bosons (also known as force carriers) are placed. Finally, the fifth column is occupied by the extraordinary Higgs boson. The different groups are the quarks, which make up protons and neutrons (both of which are hadrons; see below), the leptons, which are electrons and other small particles, and the gauge bosons, which regulate forces. Each particle is paired with a corresponding symbol.
The values shown along with each particle represent (from top to bottom value) the particle’s mass (total energy and momentum of a particle), charge (simply the electric charge of a particle), and spin (the rate at which a particle’s inertia causes it to accelerate).
Quarks are part of the fermion particle family. Quarks are the constituents of hadrons. Hadrons are divided into two categories: baryons (protons and neutrons), which are two up quarks and one down quark, and mesons, which are quarks bound to antiquarks. In addition, a third theoretical hadron category called a tetraquark is also plausible, and some theorists say that humans will eventually be able to create another periodic table using tetraquarks. There a six known types (or flavors) of quarks. Up and down quarks are the most stable, while the heavier charm, strange, top and bottom quarks rapidly decay. Quarks are bound together via the strong nuclear force (see the “The Four Fundamental Forces” post), which is in turn mediated by the gluon.
Along with quarks, leptons are part of the fermion particle family. Like quarks, leptons have six flavors. The most stable are the electron (also the most well known) and the electron neutrino. The heavier flavors are muons, muon neutrinos, taus, and tau neutrinos. Leptons are very important in chemistry as they are what give elements their distinct chemical properties.
Bosons are their own class of particles, like the fermions. Bosons are responsible for mediating every known force. Photons are the basic particles of light and mediate electromagnetism (see the “The Four Fundamental Forces” post). Gluons mediate the strong nuclear force. W bosons and Z bosons both mediate the weak nuclear force. The graviton is a hypothetical particle that is theorized to mediate gravity. Finally, the Higgs boson, discovered in 2013 using the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland, mediates mass itself.
Problems with the Standard Model:
The Standard Model has been described as a “Theory of Almost Everything”. However, it has been pointed out that is does not account for the hypothetical dark matter, dark energy, and other anomalies.