Particle Physics - A Simple(!) ExplanationA non-scientist's view of the Quantum world.
Particle physics is the science of the very small - not much bigger than an acorn... No wait, much smaller than that!
OK, well if we remember a little bit from school, we know that stuff is made up of atoms and we know that they are incredibly small although nobody's really explained to you just how small and it's very hard to imagine.
Let's give it a go:
Try to get a hair off your head (if you have any, and do it now as you may well have pulled it all out by the time you've ploughed through this web site). Have a close look at it. If you're reading this in the far distant future then please adjust your bionic laser vision to zoom in and examine it closely. If you don't yet have bionic vision then you'll need to just try to imagine this - that within the tiny width of a human hair you could actually fit one million atoms!
Now then, try to think about just one of those atoms and zoom into it until its about the size of a large house. Imagine now a tiny grain of sand within that house - ok, thats it. This is the level of size that particle physics is concerned about. (no, not a grain of sand size, you've not been listening, read it again...)
Does that make sense? If not then forget it and just think that particle physics is about very very very small things, smaller than acorns...
Why Does It Matter?
We live in the real world - full of big acorns and some other stuff, where a table is a table, a door is ajar and so on, so why should it matter what's going on at a fraction of even microscopic level?
Well there are definitely implications for the future and stuff like nanotechnology or virtual computers, but for most of us it's interesting to at least spare a few minutes thinking about particle physics because... we can then sound really cool to colleagues and friends... Well there is that, but also at that scale where we can actually look at the very basic building blocks of everything around us we discover that no, it's not lego, but instead it's some absolutely bizarre stuff which is so weird that it implies that the world and universe around us is nothing like the way it seems and anything is/isn't, was/wasn't and will be possible!
"Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine." Sir Arthur Eddington
Let's try to understand it a little bit... NEXT - 'The Big Bang' >>>