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The most basic constituent of matter

  1. Sep 7, 2005 #1

    I would like to know if my line of thought is correct in the following situation:
    When asking a question like "what is this chunk of matter made of" we know that matter is mainly space but there is something that gives it that feel or fabric that we can touch.....the block of matter is made of certain atoms and these atoms are in turn made of elementary particles likes quarks and electrons that have a huge amount of nothing in between....so it must be those elemntary particles that give the matter that feel to it. But what are quarks and electrons made of? Is it safe to say that they're basically energy ?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 7, 2005 #2
    It's my understanding that Einstein proved that matter is another form of energy with E=mc^2.

    And that quarks are made up of, and interact with, smaller subatomic particles.
  4. Sep 7, 2005 #3
    Huh ? quarks are made of other subatomic particles ?

    I thought that quarks and electrons are as elementary as we can get ?
  5. Sep 7, 2005 #4
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 21, 2017
  6. Sep 8, 2005 #5


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    Quark compositeness is a conjecture; we speak about it in a thread title "Preons" in this same forum.
  7. Sep 8, 2005 #6
    This is a classical misconception. Most people will say that the most fundamental particles are the elementary particles like the photon, electron, quarks,...Well, this is wrong !!!

    The most fundamental concepts in nature are the classical/quantum-fields like te EM field, the Dirac field , the gluon-field (strong force),...The fluctuations of these fields (the waves if you will) correspond to elemetary particles, thanks to the E=mc2 equation.

    Hence, this also answers your last question. Elementary particles are indeed energy, more specifically, they are field-fluctuations.

  8. Sep 11, 2005 #7
    Unless throught String Theory you conclude they are "strings." These strings are in turn energy, so it probably is safe to say that quarks and electonsare energy.
  9. Sep 11, 2005 #8


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    I do not like to say "energy", it contributes to misticism. Energy is the capability to generate Work. Energy, as Momentum or Mass, is a property you can adscribe to the particle, but it is not the particle.
  10. Sep 13, 2005 #9
    There are no such things as elementary particles, or space or mass or energy etc. What we have are experimental configurations, machines - devices that are configured in a given way to measure various interactions between things, various relationships. These are translated into mathematical formulas and we INVENT all kinds of terms and images to make the relationships seem intuitive or to visualize them in a certain way. Mind you these are just pretty pictures we use to configure experimental apparatus in other ways and generate other results and relationships. The inventions are just handy ways for us to IMAGINE an underlying reality which in effect is not there at all. We just interact and observe our interactions.
  11. Sep 14, 2005 #10
    We can never see an atom directly; what we see is how an atom interacts with light (or the electron microscope) and the apparatus that then somehow visualizes the interaction. We are actually seeing an atom+light+apparatus which may be very different from the atom alone which we can never see without the help of something else. Now what we see is interpreted in a system of theories and formulas and ideas. And in this sense matter does not exist, but only as a part of a larger much more complex system thal allows us to interact with it.

    What is really interesting is in the sole case of general relativity, the theory was written down before observing anything, and it miraculously corresponded to reality. In that case we actually saw the physics just within our minds without the help of any other apparatus. Now that is a really strange situation.
  12. Sep 14, 2005 #11
    No the simplest thing is existence itself. Even simpler is the logical reference system upon which our thoughts are executed, or maybe intentionality or the possiblity to distinguish between items or non-contradictions etc. There really is no simplest thing, even nothing is complex and even pure contradictions are complex. It will always end up in philosophy and metaphysics.
  13. Sep 18, 2005 #12


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    Nameta, the OP wants to know about the most fundamental particles within this "pretty picture". Let's not get into the interpretation of the act of painting the picture, and stick to what's in the picture, for now.
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