Just when you thought it couldn’t get any smaller, it did.
No I’m not talking about microprocessors or micro-microprocessors.
It’s all about the smallest particles in nature. It went from molecule to atom, to protons to quarks to gluons. The quarks with their colours and the gluons with their flavours. And now it’s down to spinons and holons. Read on.
Well, yes we’ve studied about this, right from the very primitive ‘Plum-Pudding model’ by J.J. Thompson which was abandoned (1911) on both theoretical and experimental grounds in favour of the Rutherford atomic model, in which the electrons describe orbits about a tiny positive nucleus.
And then, the nucleons (protons and electrons) were said to be made of quarks. Quarks associate with one another via the strong force to make up protons and neutrons, in much the same way that the latter particles combine in various proportions to make up atomic nuclei. There are six types, or flavours, of quarks that differ from one another in their mass and charge characteristics. These six quark flavours can be grouped in three pairs: up and down, charm and strange, and top and bottom. Quarks appear to be true elementary particles; that is, they have no apparent structure and cannot be resolved into something smaller. In addition, however, quarks always seem to occur in combination with other quarks or with antiquarks, their antiparticles, to form all hadrons—the so-called strongly interacting particles that encompass both baryons and mesons. Quantum chromodynamics (QCD) : In this theory of strong interactions, whose breakthrough ideas were published in 1973, colour has nothing to do with the colours of the everyday world but rather represents a property of quarks that is the source of the strong force.
Then came the gluons, the so-called messenger particle of the strong nuclear force, which binds subatomic particles known as quarks within the protons and neutrons of stable matter as well as within heavier, short-lived particles created at high energies. Quarks interact by emitting and absorbing gluons, just as electrically charged particles interact through the emission and absorption of photons. Like quarks, the gluons carry a “strong charge” known as colour; this means that gluons can interact between themselves through the strong force.
And now, is it really true that they split the electron? This was what was published in ‘The Times Of India’ as on 4th August 2009: