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Atoms, Quarks??


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And what is the stuff they are made up of made up of? And does this "..., now what are they made up of"-recursion ever end or is it just and infinite loop of asking for successively smaller building blocks?

 

The answer is that to today's understanding there is an end to this loop; a smallest building block that cannot be decomposed any further. Those smallest building blocks are called "elementary particles". The quarks already are elementary particles, i.e. the answer to your question is that they are not made up of some other stuff; they just are as they are.

 

From a slightly broader perspective that statement is probably not so complete. There is no proof -and presumably never can be- that there isn't a sub-structure to the quarks (one might only disprove it by finding one). But as there is no indication for a sub-structure, a good answer would probably be "no one (professional scientist) sees the need for quarks being made up of something else".

There is another interesting feature to your question: Few people even see the need for protons and neutrons to be made up of something else. You can do very good science by assuming nuclei and electrons to be the smallest building block of matter (just not all). Chemistry, for example.

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And what is the stuff they are made up of made up of? And does this "..., now what are they made up of"-recursion ever end or is it just and infinite loop of asking for successively smaller building blocks?

 

The answer is that to today's understanding there is an end to this loop; a smallest building block that cannot be decomposed any further. Those smallest building blocks are called "elementary particles". The quarks already are elementary particles, i.e. the answer to your question is that they are not made up of some other stuff; they just are as they are.

 

From a slightly broader perspective that statement is probably not so complete. There is no proof -and presumably never can be- that there isn't a sub-structure to the quarks (one might only disprove it by finding one). But as there is no indication for a sub-structure, a good answer would probably be "no one (professional scientist) sees the need for quarks being made up of something else".

There is another interesting feature to your question: Few people even see the need for protons and neutrons to be made up of something else. You can do very good science by assuming nuclei and electrons to be the smallest building block of matter (just not all). Chemistry, for example.

 

Just two problems I see with that. You have some many fields of chemistry, nuclear and physical for instance. Why should chemistry just be squared off to the periodic table really, if the science it uses is applicable to all kinds of changes in matter or substance via "reactions" or whatever is the correct scientific wording. Maybe something for science could be gained if chemistry was not just held to understanding products of the periodic table however a large a task that in itself is. I mean electrons are subatomic particles whose behavior can cause change in substance, well so are photons and protons.

 

For instance if I could have it my way I would have the definition of chemistry changed to the scientific study of substances and their transformations, sadly though I don't hold such power.

Edited by foodchain
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When I last studyed particle physics, quarks are not considered elementary particles because they are not observed on their own. They are always found in pairs or triples....so they aren't fundamental particles. Electrons on the other hand are currently classed as fundamental particles as they are not beleived to be made of anything else and can be observed on their own


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Timo, chemistry does have a very major use of the structure of nuclie...they're called isotopes!! They are extremely important in determining mechanisms and other processes.

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EDIT: I figured I wrote "nuclei" instead of "protons and neutrons" in my first post so what I originally wrote in this post is redundant. Anyways: my point wasn't that all chemistry is restricted to the shell of a nucleus (although that in fact is my personal understanding of the field) but that a lot of science can be done with this "simplified" model, already (most physics doesn't concern with a sub-structure of nuclei, either).

Edited by timo
removed effectively unnecessary comment
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