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How did scientists prove that quarks exist?

  1. Jun 30, 2012 #1
    I heard that it had something to do with acceleration in a huge accelerator in fermi-lab but where they can collide going at speeds close to the speed of light , but how does this collision help. Or is this not the way they used?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 30, 2012 #2

    mfb

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    First: You cannot "prove" something in physics. It is possible to falsify a theory by experiments. But if experiments and theory agree, this does not prove the theory. If many different measurements are in agreement with predictions from this theory, it is a good theory. But it can never be proven.

    How did they invent the theory? They analysed the particles produced in these collisions. In high-energy collisions, a lot of particles are produced. Before the quark model, they were all considered as elementary particles, and soon 30+ of them were known. But then they found patterns in their properties. The quark model was able to explain those patterns with just 4 (today: 6) quarks, and to predict the existence of new particles, which were found later.

    It is possible to calculate a lot of properties of the particles with the quark model. And up to now, no serious deviation from these predictions was found.
     
  4. Jun 30, 2012 #3
    So could scientists predict what what are quarks made out of(if they were made out of something) by making high-energy collisions of quarks?
     
  5. Jun 30, 2012 #4

    mfb

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    You cannot accelerate individual quarks. If quarks have some sub-structure, it might be possible to see this in proton-proton collisions. So far, no substructure was found, which sets lower limits for the relevant energy scale (~TeV).
     
  6. Jun 30, 2012 #5
    oh ok
     
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