Origins
CERN: The Heart of the Matter - Inside the world's largest particle accelerator
Live at CERN People Ideas Tools Place
Ideas





How do we make sense of it all?

Physicists have developed a theory known as the Standard Model that explains our current understanding of the nature of matter -- what it's made of and how its components interact. According to the theory, all the particles in the universe -- and we know of more than a hundred different kinds -- can be grouped into just three "families" of particles: quarks, leptons, and force carrier particles.

Quarks and Leptons

Quarks
Up
Charm
Top
Down
Strange
Bottom
Leptons
Electron
Muon
Tau
Electron Neutrino
Muon Neutrino
Tau Neutrino

The most fundamental building blocks of all matter are quarks and leptons. There are six different kinds of each of these particles. For instance, the electron is one type of lepton, and the "up" quark is one kind of quark.

Force Carrier Particles

Force Gravitational Weak Electromagnetic Strong
Force Carrier Particle Graviton
(not yet observed)
W+, W-, W0 Photon Gluon


The only other "family" of particles in the universe is the force carrier particles. Quarks and leptons interact with one another by exchanging force carrier particles.

previous


EXTERNAL LINKS

For more information on the Standard Model:
The Particle Adventure
Chart of Fundamental Particles and Interactions
Scientific American article: A Unified Field of Physics by 2050?

The Heart of the Matter

  Origins

 

CERN  
Exploratorium
© 2000 The Exploratorium