The Standard Model of particle physics is brilliant and completely flawed – Science News

Every time physicists find a new particle, the Standard Model gets one step closer to becoming a Super Model.

Standard model key points

Key points

  • The Standard Model fits the quantum world beautifully, but it can’t explain gravity, dark matter or dark energy
  • High energy particle accelerators should reveal new particles that will fill some gaps in the Model
  • Our accelerators may never have enough energy to find particles that will explain gravity

There’s always talk of whether the new arrival fits in, or stands out, or matches the model’s predictions. Everything gets related back to this “Bible of quantum physics”.

The Standard Model isn’t mystical, however. It’s purely, beautifully mathematical.

Yet for all its predictive power, it’s not perfect — it can’t explain gravity, dark matter or dark energy. The real goal of particle-smashing physicists is to break it.

Only by finding new particles that weren’t predicted by the Standard Model, and can’t fit inside it, will we move to a new and improved model — one that doesn’t have big gaps where gravity and the dark parts of physics should be.

The Standard Model explained

Forty years ago scientists pulled everything they knew about quantum physics into one massive equation — the Standard Model of particle physics.


Who’s who in the particle zoo

  • There are two types of particles, called fermions, that make up matter: quarks and leptons
  • There are six types of quarks: up, down, charmed, strange, top (or truth) and bottom (or beauty)
  • Up and down quarks make up all the stable matter in our universe
  • Leptons include the electron, the electron neutrino, the muon and the muon neutrino, the tau and the tau neutrino
  • The electron, muon and tau all have an electric charge and large mass, whereas neutrinos are neutral and have a tiny mass
  • There are four fundamental forces in the universe: the strong force, weak force, the electromagnetic force, and gravity
  • These forces are carried by particles known as bosons — gluons…

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