Monday, November 07, 2005

What is the Universe Made of?

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4b/DarkMatterPie.jpg
Most of the universe is apparently made of 'dark energy', a small percentage is 'dark matter'.. and the tiny remainder is made of 'particles' (mostly matter with a tiny bit of anti-matter). A small proportion of particles go to making atoms- of which the most abundant is the simplest- hydrogen. Anything more complicated has to be created inside supernova star explosions before it can coalesce into planets from which living humans can evolve, gaze out into the universe and invent vengeful gods to explain it all away.
This is a great website that goes through the "standard model" of particle physics.

Things i have trouble understanding:
1) what is 'spin'?
2) why there are 3 generations of matter? (reminiscent of a medieval 'hierarchy of angels'?)
3) what causes a particle to have a certain mass? and what the hell is a Higgs Boson?
As a separate issue- hese particles keep popping in and out of existence at random- creating particle/anti-particle foam out of so-called "empty" space.

1 comment:

  1. Spin is a property of matter. It was named that because it arises when you carefully analyze angular momentum in quantum mechanics. However, spin does not refer to something spinning; it is something matter has, just like mass and charge.

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