Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

5 Baffling Subatomic Particles

Lots More Information


10 Reasons the Multiverse Is a Real Possibility

10 Reasons the Multiverse Is a Real Possibility

The multiverse — different realms where every choice spawns a separate universe for a different version of ourselves. Learn more at HowStuffWorks.

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.

Related Articles


  • Battersby, Stephen. "Faster-than-light 'tachyons' might be impossible after all." New Scientist. March 18, 2009. (July 24, 2012)
  • Francis, Matthew. "Elusive Majorana fermions may be lurking in a cold nanowire." Ars Technica. April 12, 2012. (July 24, 2012)
  • Johnston, Hamish. "Chameleon particle blends into the background." Physics World. Feb. 10, 2009. (July 24, 2012)
  • "Majorana Fermion Particle Evidence Found By Physicists." Huff Post Science. April 15, 2012 (July 24, 2012)
  • Marshall, D.A. et al. "Trajectory of a falling Batman." Journal of Physics Special Topics. Dec. 9, 2011. (July 24, 2012)
  • "Mysterious 'Majorana Fermion' Discovered --Could Revolutionize Understanding of Dark Matter & Future of Quantum Computing." Daily Galaxy. April 16, 2012. (July 24, 2012)
  • O'Neill, Ian. "Black Holes as Exotic Particle Honeypots?" Discovery News. June 18, 2012. (July 24, 2012)
  • Rincon, Paul. "Neutrino 'ghost particle' sized up by astronomers." BBC News. June 22, 2010. (July 24, 2012)
  • "Tachyon." Wolfram Research. (July 24, 2012)
  • "The Graviton." BBC Radio 4. (July 24, 2012)
  • Wei, Lisa. "What is a graviton? Where can it be found?" Curious About Astronomy. June 2003. (July 24, 2012)