Image credit: The LHCb detector, from CERN / Fermilab.

Is there any particle physics beyond the standard model?

Posted by Ethan Siegel on November 14, 2012

“…this consensus has been brought about, not by shifts in philosophical preference or by the influence of astrophysical mandarins, but by the pressure of empirical data.” -Steven Weinberg

One of the most fundamental questions we could ever ask about all of existence is “What makes up the Universe?”

I don’t mean “stars and galaxies,” like you see above. That might make up the Universe on the largest scales, but that’s taking a look at the question of what the fundamental constituents of the Universe compose themselves into.

The other side of the coin is to look at ever smaller and smaller scales at matter, and try to figure out what the smallest, indivisible things are. To take anything, whether it’s a supercluster, star, planet, human or amoeba, and break it down into the smallest things possible.

Beyond the cellular level, beneath the molecules and atoms and protons of existence, we can finally reach the fundamental, indivisible particles that cannot be split into anything smaller. These particles — the quarks and gluons, the charged leptons and neutrinos, the electroweak gauge bosons and the Higgs — make up the Standard Model of elementary particles. Combined with gravity, as far as we can tell, these are the the most fundamental constituents of all the normal* matter and energy in the Universe.

Read more: Is there any particle physics beyond the standard model? – Starts With A Bang.

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