The spinning vortex of Saturn’s north polar storm resembles a deep red rose of giant proportions surrounded by green foliage in this false-color image from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. Measurements have sized the eye at a staggering 1,250 miles (2,000 kilometers) across with cloud speeds as fast as 330 miles per hour (150 meters per second).
Over the centuries, man has always been curious and asked questions about the world. One question which has puzzled both philosophers and physicists alike is the question of “what is matter?” The Greeks believed that matter was made up of the classical elements, earth, air, fire and water. This idea persisted throughout the Middle Ages and even into the Renaissance, greatly influencing European thought. The idea that matter was made up of small particles, as opposed to the idea that matter could be divided into infinitely smaller quantities, first began as a philosophical concept thought up by Democritus in ancient Greece. It was not until the 19th century that John Dalton concluded that matter did behave as if it were made up of tiny particles after experimenting with chemicals and their reactions. He named them atoms from the Greek word “atomos” meaning “indivisible.” It was not until 1905 that Albert Einstein proved that atoms existed through careful analysis of Brownian motion.
Over the last century the field of particle physics has expanded enormously, with the theories and discoveries of thousands of physicists culminating in the breaking down of the universe into its fundamental building blocks. We not only know that matter is made up of atoms, we also know that the atoms themselves are not fundamental and can be broken down further into neutrons, protons and electrons. The theoretical framework that describes the fundamental particles and the forces that describe how they interact is called the Standard Model.
The Standard Model is a culmination of many theoretical and experimental discoveries. The Standard Model was first devised in 1970’s and has been continually updated and improved since then. The Standard Model has been very successful so far, it has predicted several particles such as the W and Z bosons, the gluon and the charm quarks before they were actually observed. Continue Reading