Quarks Essay, Research Paper


Quarks- any group of subatomic particles believed to be among the basic

components if matter

Quarks are believed to be the fundamental constituents of matter, and

have no apparent structure. They are the particles that make up protons and

neutrons, which make up the nucleus of atoms. Also, particles that interact by

means of the strong force, the force that holds parts of the nucleus together,

are explained in terms of quarks. Other baryons are explained in terms of

quarks(1985 Quarks).

Quarks have mass and exhibit spin, the type of intrinsic angular

momentum corresponding to rotation around an axis, equal to half the basic

quantum mechanical unit of angular momentum, obeying Pauli’s exclusion principle.

This principle that no two particles having half integral spin can exist in the

same quantum state(1985 Quarks).

Quarks always occur in combination with other quarks, they never occur

alone. Physicists have attempted to knock a single quark free from a group

using a particle accelerator, but have failed. Mesons contain a quark and an

antiquark, up, down, and strange, while baryons contain three quarks

distinguished by flavours. Each has a charge that is a fraction of that of an

electron. Up and down quarks make up protons and neutrons, and can be observed

in ordinary matter. Strange quarks can be observed in omega-minus and other

short lived subatomic particles which play on part in ordinary matter(1985


The interpretation of quarks as physical entities poses two problems.

First, sometimes two or three identical quarks have to be in the same quantum

state which, because they have to have half integral spin, violates Pauli’s

exclusion principal. Second, quarks appear to not be able to be separated from

the particles they make up. Although the force holding the quarks together is

strong it is improbable that it could withstand bombardment from high energy and

neutrinions in a particle accelorator(1985 Quarks).

Quantum chromodynamics(QCD) ascribes colours red, green, and blue to

quarks and minus-red, minus-green, and minus-blue to antiquarks. Combinations

of quarks must contain equal mixtures of colours so that they cancel each other

out. Colour involves the exchange of massless particles, gluons. Gluons

transfer the forces which bind quarks together. Quarks change colour as they

emit and absorb gluons. The exchange of gluons is what maintains the right

quark colour distribution. The forces carried by gluons weaken when they are

close together , at a distance of about 10-13 cm, about the diameter of a proton,

quarks behave as if they were free. This is called asymptomatic freedom(1985


When one draws the quarks apart the force gets stronger, this is in

direct contrast with electromagnetic force which gets weaker with the square of

the distance between the two bodies. Gluons can create other gluons when they

move between quarks. If a quark moves away from a group of others because it

has been hit by a speeding particle, gluons draw from the quarks motion in order

to create more gluons. The larger the number of gluons exchanged the stronger

the binding force. Supplying additional energy to quarks results in conversion

of energy to new quarks and antiquarks with which the first quark combines(1985


After the discovery of “bottom” and “charm” it was believed that all

quarks occur in pairs. This led to the effort to find “top” quark. In 1984 the

laboratory of the European Council for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva

obtained experimental evidence of “top’s” existence. The discovery of “top”

completes the theory of natures basic components, quarks(1985 Quarks).


(1985) Quarks, Encyclopedia Britanica, Encyclopedia Britanica Inc. USA.

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