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Particle physics

Particle physics is a branch of physics that studies the elementary constituents of matter and radiation, and the interactions between them.

It is also called "high energy physics", because many elementary particles do not occur under normal circumstances in nature, but can be created and detected during energetic collisions of other particles, as is done in particle accelerators.

Modern particle physics research is focused on subatomic particles, which have less structure than atoms.

These include atomic constituents such as electrons, protons, and neutrons (protons and neutrons are actually composite particles, made up of quarks), particles produced by radiative and scattering processes, such as photons, neutrinos, and muons, as well as a wide range of exotic particles.

Strictly speaking, the term particle is a misnomer because the dynamics of particle physics are governed by quantum mechanics.

As such, they exhibit wave-particle duality, displaying particle-like behavior under certain experimental conditions and wave-like behavior in others (more technically they are described by state vectors in a Hilbert space).

All the particles and their interactions observed to date can be described by a quantum field theory called the Standard Model.

The Standard Model has 40 species of elementary particles (24 fermions, 12 vector bosons, and 4 scalars), which can combine to form composite particles, accounting for the hundreds of other species of particles discovered since the 1960s.

Note:   The above text is excerpted from the Wikipedia article "Particle physics", which has been released under the GNU Free Documentation License.
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July 31, 2015

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