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Nuclear Particles

Nuclear events are highly but not perfectly symmetric, like the mollusk shells in this French engraving.
Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (1744-1829), Terebra. Tableau Encyclopédique et Méthodique des Trois Règnes de la Nature, Paris 1791-1798. Photograph by D Dunlop.

Events that are highly symmetric combinations of at least sixteen Anaxagorean sensations are called nuclear events. Nuclear events are objectified as nuclear particles. They are modeled by bundles of quarks. Pions need just eight quarks, whereas the Higgs boson requires hundreds.

Nuclear particles must be highly symmetric so that they are stable enough to be measured, but not exactly symmetric. A few small asymmetries are needed or else an event would be indistinct and nondescript. Most nuclear particles are objectified from slightly different numbers of opposing binary sensations so that they have an angular momentum, baryon number, lepton number, charge and strangeness that are within two or three units of zero. The way that these small asymmetries are balanced against each other determines a particle’s stability or lifetime. Another important particle characteristic is the mass. This number roughly describes how much internal energy is leftover after the work of assembling a particle has been completed. The nuclear particle that gets most attention is the proton. But we also show a way of classifying all nuclear particles into 24 families based on their quark content. Over the next few articles more precise meanings for these terms are developed from a discussion of quarks, starting with the mass.