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Several Queries Concerning Some Science Stuff

  1. Jul 10, 2012 #1
    I only just recently began my journey into the realm of physics, and I have a few questions. Forgive me if I suck at topic titles, and I'm not even sure where this would go...

    First of all, I've noticed several instances in which some form of decay results in antimatter apparently coming from matter. For example: β+, the positrons emitted in β decay. I thought antimatter and matter annihilated each other! Explain.

    My second question: What on earth is dark matter? In the simplest terms possible?

    Third, what exactly is the difference between the Higgs (which makes stuff heavy) and the Graviton (which... also makes stuff heavy)? Also, since each of the gauge bosons are "conductors" of the four fundamental forces, which force does the Higgs boson "conduct"?

    Fourth, is there any way that I can understand the Standard Model without learning too many complex things? Because it looks kind of like a long sting of meaningless symbols to me, I only recognize a couple of things in there.

    Fifth, can somebody explain string theory to me? Because I'm stuck at "everything is made of super-strings that vibrate and stuff".
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 10, 2012 #2
    This site goes through 1-4.

    http://pdg.web.cern.ch/pdg/particleadventure/frameless/startstandard.html [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  4. Jul 10, 2012 #3
    It really didn't supply the answer to #3 very well. It barely talked about the Higgs boson at all. :|
  5. Jul 10, 2012 #4
    Look at the particle physics section of this site. There is tons of stuff. You may have to sift through it. Basically it states that the Higgs field gives things the quantity we refer to as mass. Normally in basic science they say mass is made of stuff, ie not energy. But there is a lot more detail and ideas associated with this that is better explained by actual particle physics fellows in the aforementioned place on this site.
  6. Jul 11, 2012 #5
    Yesterday the rest of the pages after a certain point didn't show up for some reason... but they do now. My laptop is to blame for that one. It did explain #5 a bit, and now I think String Theory is crazy, regardless of what someone's math says. But part two of #3 still doesn't have much of an answer. Which of the fundamental forces does the Higgs Boson carry? The other part of question #3 I think I understand now (gravity moves things towards something at a certain rate whereas mass is just interaction with the Higgs field).
  7. Jul 11, 2012 #6
    The Higgs doesn't really carry a force. The Higgs field is what gives particles their mass, the graviton (if it exists) is the force carrier for gravitation.
  8. Jul 11, 2012 #7
    It's more specific than "matter and antimatter annihilate." Each particle has a specific antiparticle with which it can annihilate. That doesn't prevent a proton from turning into a positron, a neutron, and a neutrino, as in beta decay.

    Nobody knows. It's inferred to be there because if galaxies didn't have a lot of unseen mass holding them together, they would fly apart, given the speeds they are observed to be spinning at.

    The Higgs makes things *massive* (mass is different from weight). It doesn't communicate any sort of force. Gravity causes lumps of energy to attract each other. Note that mass is just one form of energy.

    The Higgs isn't a gauge boson. It's a boson, yes, but not all bosons are gauge bosons. The Higgs doesn't communicate any sort of force.

    You can't understand the math without studying physics for a few years. Of course there are many nonmathematical popularizations of particle physics, which can give you some shallow understanding without too much effort. But for example, to know what physicists really mean by "gauge boson" you would have to learn a lot of mathematical physics.

    I'm not very familiar with string theory, but I'm not sure there's much more to say without diving into quite advanced mathematics. But I'm sure there are popularizations even of string theory; you could look around.
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