WTF Protons

WTF Protons

So you thought you knew what a proton was.

Or at least the mass and charge and all of the other characteristics of protons (and their kindred nucleons), like them being made up of just three quarks. Guess again. The universe of quantum chromodynamics isn’t so simplistic and neither are the bits of atom ecology we are all made up of.

The 3 ordinary valence quarks in a proton make up only a tiny fraction of its mass! The vast majority of a protons (and other nucleons) mass is made up of constantly changing constituents in the broth in our quark soup. Those other constituents are blinking in and out of ‘existance’ in beat with Planck time.

Having trouble with all this taxonomic wonder, remember what the legendary atom-ecologist Enrico Fermi once said, “If I could remember the names of all these particles, I would have been a botanist.”

Still confused? Watch this all time favourite Physics music video.


To learn more about physics and protons from a geek worthy of the Big Bang read the Physics Girl, smart like Sheldon beautiful like Penny.