ABCs of

particle physics

is for universe, where all this stuff lives.


The universe is everything we know. Scientists estimate the observable universe is about 91 billion light-years across. They think it is roughly 14 billion years old. The universe appears to be very flat and uniform, with no center and no edge. It is expanding at an accelerating rate, something scientists attribute to dark energy.


is for vacuum, space

where nothing is.


In the purest sense, a vacuum is empty space. But no vacuum is purely empty. Even in the vacuum of space, lonely particles float by, and virtual particles pop in and out of existence. More practically, a vacuum made by a machine on Earth is an area with less pressure than normal. Many particle physics machines create vacuums to remove gas molecules that might interfere with experiments.


is for wave, a property of light.


Elementary particles seem to obey a different set of rules than we do. One perplexing thing about them is that particles also act like waves. This is called wave-particle duality. Scientists discovered the double nature of the quantum world in experiments with light, which displays both particle- and wave-like behavior.


is for X-rays,

which are really bright!


An X-ray is a very high-energy form of light. When scientists bend the path of particles in an accelerator, the particles emit energy in the form of X-rays. Scientists used to find this annoying, but over time, they realized they could harness these X-rays to take extremely detailed images of atoms and molecules and even chemical reactions.

tap below for more!


Share it: