A joint Fermilab/SLAC publication

Your physics vocabulary

Learn to speak physics.

06/11/19

The language of physics

10 more words that mean something different to scientists.

02/26/19

10 words that mean something different to physicists

Some of this science sounds awfully familiar.

11/13/18

Gravitational lenses

Predicted by Einstein and discovered in 1979, gravitational lensing helps astrophysicists understand the evolving shape of the universe.

10/24/17

Speak physics: What is a cross section?

Cross sections tell physicists how likely particles are to interact in a given way.

 
05/30/17

A brief etymology of particle physics

How did the proton, photon and other particles get their names?

09/27/16

You keep using that physics word

I do not think it means what you think it means.

07/28/16

The deconstructed Standard Model equation

The Standard Model is far more than elementary particles arranged in a table.

05/19/16

The Planck scale

The Planck scale sets the universe’s minimum limit, beyond which the laws of physics break.

11/24/15

Charge-parity violation

Matter and antimatter behave differently. Scientists hope that investigating how might someday explain why we exist.

07/07/15

What is dark energy?

It’s everywhere. It will determine the fate of our universe. And we still have no idea what it is.

07/15/15

Miraculous WIMPs

What are WIMPs, and what makes them such popular dark matter candidates? 

10/24/14

Cosmic inflation

Cosmic inflation refers to a period of rapid, accelerated expansion that scientists think took place about 14 billion years ago.

06/10/14

Wave-particle duality

The concept of wave-particle duality ascribes two seemingly contradictory traits to a single object.

01/28/14

Quantum entanglement

Through ‘spooky action at a distance,’ the properties of two systems remain correlated even after they are separated.

12/02/13

Baryonic acoustic oscillations

Scientists have found a way to study sound waves from the early universe to learn more about its history and contents. 

02/01/12

Cosmic microwave background

Cosmic microwave background is the oldest light in the universe. 

08/27/13

Neutrinoless double beta decay

The observation of neutrinoless double beta decay would suggest that, by itself, the Standard Model Higgs cannot give mass to neutrinos.

07/16/13

Force carriers

Particles communicate with one another through force carriers.

06/04/13

Unification of forces

What if all of nature’s forces can be woven together into one comprehensive force?

04/16/13

Naturalness

When a scientific result fails the test of “naturalness,” it can point to new physics.

04/23/13

Plasma acceleration

Like surfers on huge ocean waves, electrons can ride waves of plasma to very high energies.

03/07/13

Spin

Objects as large as a planet or as small as a photon can have the property of spin. Spin is also the reason we can watch movies in 3D.

01/08/13

Bosons

All particles fall into one of two classes, bosons or fermions.

12/11/12

Decay channel

When particles decay, they transform into lighter particles. Physicists can predict how often a particle will decay into certain end products.

07/01/12

Sigma

Sigma is a unit that describes how much a set of experimental data deviates from what’s expected.

06/01/12

Standard candle

Your birthday cake isn’t the only thing studded with lights. 

05/01/12

The muon

Meet the Twinkie of particle physics: the muon.

10/01/11

Symmetry

Symmetry is an expression of exact correspondence between things.

05/01/11

Synchrotron radiation

Synchrotron light gets its name from the synchrotron particle accelerators where it was first observed.

02/01/11

Discovery

Discovery is the process of uncovering something new. 

10/01/10

Big Bang

The moment that kicked off the growth of our universe is called the Big Bang. 

08/01/09

Cherenkov light

Cherenkov light is the optical equivalent of a sonic boom.

07/01/09

Virtual particles

Virtual particles’ existence is fleeting, but their effects are real.

05/01/09

Charm quark

The charm quark is a heavier cousin of the up and down quarks that make up much of the matter around us.

03/01/09

Neutralino

Whereas matter on Earth and in stars is made of atoms and nuclei, scientists know that dark matter must be made of something else. Neutralinos are a prime candidate.

12/01/08

Particle accelerators

Particle accelerators are used for a variety of purposes worldwide.

11/01/08

Magnet quench

A quench occurs when a magnet in a particle accelerator loses its superconductivity.

08/01/08

Z boson

The Z boson is a neutral particle that mediates the weak force.

04/01/08

Rare decays

Scientists search for rare decays to test their understanding of how matter behaves.

02/01/08

W boson

The W boson is a charged force-carrying particle that transmits the weak force.

11/01/07

Jets

A jet forms when a quark or gluon is produced in a high-energy particle collision.

09/01/07

Theory

Theories describe scientists’ understanding of observed phenomena.

07/01/07

Particle event

Scientists call the particle collisions and interactions they study “particle events.”

05/01/07

String theory

According to string theory, matter is made up of strings.

04/01/07

Positron

A positron is the electron’s antimatter counterpart.

03/01/07

Dark matter

Dark matter seems to be abundant in the universe but has yet to be directly detected.

02/01/07

Simulations

Simulations allow physicists to make predictions.

08/01/06

Higgs boson

The discovery of the Higgs boson provided insight into what gives elementary particles mass.

12/01/06

Postdocs

Postdocs are temporary research positions for scientists who have completed their PhDs.

03/01/06

Quarks

Quarks are fundamental particles found in the matter all around us.

02/01/06

Luminosity

Luminosity is a measure of how many particles are brought together in a certain space over a certain period of time.

01/01/06

B factories

B factories mass-produce B mesons, particles that contain a bottom quark.

11/01/05

The grid

The grid provides computing power on demand.

10/01/05

CP violation

CP is violated if there is a difference between the ways nature treats matter and antimatter.

09/01/05

Superconductors

Superconductors transmit electricity without wastefully producing heat.

01/01/05

Gravitational lenses

Gravitational lenses distort light and help scientists study dark matter.

11/01/04

Antimatter

Antimatter is matter’s natural counterpart.