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How is a proton like a bagel?

7 Nov 2014, 19:21 UTC
How is a proton like a bagel?
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Protons give every atom its fundamental identity. The number of protons tells you where an atom sits on the Periodic Table, while the number of neutrons and electrons can vary (within limits). However, they are not fundamental: they are made of three quarks, gluons to bind things together (yeah, the name is even derived from […]

“How is a raven like a writing-desk?” is not a question physics can answer, but the shape of a proton is. [Credit: John Tenniel]Protons give every atom its fundamental identity. The number of protons tells you where an atom sits on the Periodic Table, while the number of neutrons and electrons can vary (within limits). However, they are not fundamental: they are made of three quarks, gluons to bind things together (yeah, the name is even derived from “glue”), and a chunky stew of pairs of other particles, all of which combine to create the protons we know. For that reason, the shape and size of a proton are more complicated properties than we might think at first. My new article for NOVA‘s “Nature of Reality explains:
Yet those questions trouble many particle physicists as well. When it comes to protons, even the simplest ...

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