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Introduction, page 1 Particle Physics - Introduction 2 of 3 Introduction, page 3

Atoms. You may have learnt from basic chemistry courses that matters are made of basic components called atoms. We know that all matters are essentially made up of slightly over 100 types of different atoms which we called elements.

different elements with different types of atoms

However, since early 20th century, we know that each atom is consisted of even more fundamental particles: protons, neutrons and electrons. Each element is uniquely identified by the number of protons in the atomic nucleus. The study of chemistry deals only the way how electrons interact with one another whereby matters are formed via these interactions (chemical forces, or chemical bonds). The smallest scale the chemistry considers is the atomic level. However, the study of particle physics essentially deals with any particles more fundamental than atoms that made up stable matter that we see and matter that only exists in high energy or in the early universe. It also studies forces acting on these matters. In fact the chemical forces is just one of the particlar force that chemistry is interested in.

Subatomic particles. Most of these particles (or sub-particles) are 'hidden' from chemistry and our daily experience. Special (and extreme) methods and tools have to use in order to probe these particles and forces. One of the basic tools is the particle accelerator. It is a gigantic instrument that detect the effects and products of collisions between very fast moving particles. High speed is necessary so that it is energetic enough to 'crack open' the particles in order to reveal the inner structures that made up the colliding particles. Some of these sub-particles may only exist briefly before they dissappear or change to other form of particles. Particle accelerators can therefore be used to mimic the Universe at the very early stages of formation.

head-on collision between two very fast moving particles

Introduction, page 1 Introduction, page 3


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