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Smashing Pictures


The Elegant Universe homepage

Launch slide show Smashing Pictures

There was a time in the last century when the only subatomic particles we knew were the proton, neutron, and electron. But in the past 40 years or so physicists working at particle accelerators—or "atom smashers" in the lay lingo—have ferreted out a menagerie of so-called fundamental particles, everything from the charm and strange quarks to the gluon and tau neutrino. In this gallery, view visual representations of the most important fundamental particle discoveries—discoveries that have deepened physicists' understanding of the building blocks of nature as well as led to their appreciation of key aspects of string theory, such as supersymmetry. —Zack Sullivan, Research Associate, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory


Editor's note: It is difficult to discuss the details of particle events without getting a bit technical. For an overview of the questions particle physicists are trying to answer and how they go about it, the author recommends you visit the Particle Adventure Web site (http://particleadventure.org/particleadventure/). For definitions of unfamiliar terms in this article, he suggests you consult the site's extensive glossary (http://particleadventure.org/ particleadventure/frameless/glossary.html).

   

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