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In Ancient Greece, many believed that everything was made up of simple particles called Atoms. They called them Atoms because they believed that they had no parts and could not be broken. This had been believed for many centuries until evidence that something smaller actually existed (the electron). Once scientists found the electron, they were not satified. Scientists kept creating new theories and testing new hypothesis' attempting to find what makes the world tick. Now, the universe's fundimental particles have seemingly been found, but scientists are still searching for a more complete answer.
The sub-atomic particles that are known to exist now are a strange and vast new addition to the seemingly grand scale that is our universe we live in. There are many things left to find, create, observe, and explain, but it is human nature to attempt to do these things and find out what got us here.
There are many different types of sub-atomic particle. They all can be classified down to 3 basic types: Bosons, Fermions, and Hadrons. Of these, Bosons and Fermions are fundimental particles and therefore cannot be broken down any farther.
Boson is the term for a particle with a even integers as spin (0, 1, 2). Spin being the intrinsic angular momentum of a particular particle.
There are 5 different known bosons. These are gluons, photons, W- bosons, W+ bosons, and Z bosons. There is one more theorized boson, the graviton, but it has not been observed yet. Bosons are known as Force-Carrier Particles, and they act as "inbetween's" for particle interaction.
The most commonly observed boson is the photon. It is the force-carrier particle for the electromagnetic force. It is massless, has a spin of 1, has no color or electromagnetic charge, and travels at c (the speed of light).
Gluons are the next boson of importance. Gluons are the force-carrier particles for the strong nuclear force. They are also massless, chargeless, and have a spin of 1, except they do carry a specific color charge (color charge is the indicator for the strong nuclear force). Gluons exist to keep quarks together into cohesive units with a color charge of 0.
W-, W+, and Z bosons are the force-carrier particles for the weak nuclear force. Each has a specific mass, a specific electromagnetic charge and a spin of 1, but no color charge (so they do not participate in the strong force). Weak interactions are the flavor changes between particles (flavor being the specific type of particle).
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The final boson is the graviton. It has theoretically not been observed due to the relative lack of energy that gravity has compared to the other forces. But it is theorized to be the force-carrier wave for gravity, and the interactions it deals with is mass and energy.
Fermions are the fundamental particles for everything in the universe. How they are described is: Fermions are particles with a spin of an odd multiple of 1/2 (1/2, 3/2, 5/2).
Two types of basic fermion exist, the quark and the lepton. These fermions are subject to Pauli Exclusion Principle which states that no particle can exist in the same state in the same place at the same time. Quarks and Leptons have something known as "flavor". Flavor is just a name for the type particle of a class. Since all fermions have flavor, they are all subject to interactions with W-, W+, and Z bosons which are the force carriers for the weak force.
The difference between quarks and leptons is that quarks have a color charge (and therefore interact with the strong force) and leptons do not. This means that gluons will react with quarks but not with leptons.
Leptons consist of three flavors of charged particle and a neutral "neutrino" for each flavor of charged particle. Of these 6 lepton particles, only 4 are stable in the universe: electrons, electron neutrinos, muon neutrinos, and tau neutrinos. The other leptons, muons and taus, are more massive than their first generation cousin, the electons, and therefore will decay into a more stable state via the weak force.
Quarks have two different types and three flavors of each type also. There are the quarks with a charge of -1/3 and quarks with the charge 2/3. Of these, the only quarks noted in somewhat stable particles are the up, down, and strange quark. The other quarks (charm, bottom, top) are very unstable and decay very quickly after being created. Quarks are always accompanied by gluons, and are always in sets where their total color charge equals zero. Quarks are what make up hadrons and mesons.
Hadrons are particles that are comprised of quarks and gluons. Baryons and mesons are different types of hadrons.
Protons and Neutrons are types of baryons. Examples of other baryons are Lambda particles and Omega particles. The reason for hadrons to to be consisted of 3 quarks, is that it takes 3 quarks of differing color charge to equal a net color charge of zero. Anti-baryons are 3 anti-quarks of the same type as the standard baryon counterpart.
Mesons are hadrons that are generally generated by weak interactions. They consist of a quark and an anti-quark of different flavors, held together by gluons. Pions and kaons are different types of meson.