RSC WISET UK: Quandary of the Quark

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Thursday, November 23, 2006

99.9% of the visible material in the universe is made of quarks and yet we know surprisingly little about them. For example, the mass of the electron is known to a tiny fraction of a percent; that of the up or down quarks has a factor of two uncertainty. The reason for the difficulty is that quarks are never seen as free particles, but are inextricably bound together by the strong force that in turn holds the atomic nucleus together. The strong force is the mightiest of Nature's fundamental forces and the hardest to crack, but recent theoretical advances have meant that we are at last getting to grips with it. Professor Christine Davies of the University of Glasgow will describe how the properties of the quark are now being revealed, and the implications that this will have for our understanding of the physics of fundamental particles.