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Author's Note: 5 Baffling Subatomic Particles

As I explained in the Stuff to Blow Your Mind episode "There Once Was a Boson Named Higgs," I tend to think of particle physics as a chocolate-covered urinal cake. That's not a comment on the importance of the field or the awesomeness of the individuals involved, but rather my take on its accessibility as a general audience topic. Bite into the cake just a little bit, and everything is chocolaty and delicious. Bite in just a little too deep, however, and things get less yummy.

So I tried to keep this article as chocolaty as possible by discussing some of the amazing properties of our weirdest subatomic particles -- both real and speculative. It's the glitzy cover art on a much deeper book, because the underlying science here is huge. After all, the field of particle physics aims to unravel the fabric of existence -- to break down matter to its most basic form and expand our understanding of what this universe is all about.

Sources

  • Battersby, Stephen. "Faster-than-light 'tachyons' might be impossible after all." New Scientist. March 18, 2009. (July 24, 2012) http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn16796-fasterthanlight-tachyons-might-be-impossible-after-all.html
  • Francis, Matthew. "Elusive Majorana fermions may be lurking in a cold nanowire." Ars Technica. April 12, 2012. (July 24, 2012) http://arstechnica.com/science/2012/04/experiment-may-have-found-majorana-fermions-in-a-nanowire/
  • Johnston, Hamish. "Chameleon particle blends into the background." Physics World. Feb. 10, 2009. (July 24, 2012) http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/2009/feb/10/chameleon-particle-blends-into-the-background
  • "Majorana Fermion Particle Evidence Found By Physicists." Huff Post Science. April 15, 2012 (July 24, 2012) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/14/majorana-fermion-particle-physicist-discovery_n_1425473.html
  • Marshall, D.A. et al. "Trajectory of a falling Batman." Journal of Physics Special Topics. Dec. 9, 2011. (July 24, 2012) https://physics.le.ac.uk/journals/index.php/pst/article/view/484/289
  • "Mysterious 'Majorana Fermion' Discovered --Could Revolutionize Understanding of Dark Matter & Future of Quantum Computing." Daily Galaxy. April 16, 2012. (July 24, 2012) http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2012/04/long-sought-mystery-particle-discovered-could-revolutionize-understanding-of-dark-matter-future-of-q.html
  • O'Neill, Ian. "Black Holes as Exotic Particle Honeypots?" Discovery News. June 18, 2012. (July 24, 2012) http://news.discovery.com/space/black-holes-as-exotic-particle-honeypots.html
  • Rincon, Paul. "Neutrino 'ghost particle' sized up by astronomers." BBC News. June 22, 2010. (July 24, 2012) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10364160
  • "Tachyon." Wolfram Research. (July 24, 2012) http://scienceworld.wolfram.com/physics/Tachyon.html
  • "The Graviton." BBC Radio 4. (July 24, 2012) http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p003k9ks
  • Wei, Lisa. "What is a graviton? Where can it be found?" Curious About Astronomy. June 2003. (July 24, 2012) http://curious.astro.cornell.edu/question.php?number=535
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