Saturday, June 07, 2008

The physics of elementary particles.

The realisation that the great diversity of the world stems from a handful of elementary particles acting under the influence of a few fundamental forces was one of the triumphs of twentieth century physics. But the path to this realisation was not straightforward, and at one point physicists were faced with a bewildering collection of "fundamental particles" - more than there are elements in the chemical table!

It has taken an understanding of mathematical symmetry combined with experiments into conditions similar to those soon after the "Big Bang" to bring physicists to the elegant understanding of today.

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