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Their result for The particle physics knowledge Test ...


50% Particle Physics Knowledge

While your score is right in the middle, I suppose you are still above average. What "average" person would even take this test?

You are on your way to a respectful knowledge of physics. Keep your eyes and ears open and you will learn a lot more! Don't read _Angels_and_Demons_ - it is full of lies.


1) The Higgs Boson is not a quark. It is a particle not yet observed (but much searched for) that is thought to be responsible for giving particles their mass. The strange quark helped pave the way for the theory of quarks to be formed. Protons and neutrons are made of up and down quarks, so other types of particles that seemed to have a special type of property were called "strange". The top quark is the heaviest of the (known) quarks and the most recently discovered. Beauty is another (less common) name for the bottom quark.

2) CERN is the European Organization for Nuclear Research, located on the border of France and Switzerland. SLAC, Fermi lab, and Brookhaven are all US national labs carrying out a variety of projects.

3) There is no such thing as the "string" force. The fundamental forces are the weak, strong, electromagnetic, and gravitational.

4) A bubble chamber is a way to see particles. It is a vessel filled with liquid where charged particles leave a trails of tiny bubbles. The LHC is the Large Hadron Collider - a particle accelerator - being constructed at CERN. The other two I made up.

5) The above picture is an artist's representation of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). ATLAS is one of the detectors that will look at what happens when the LHC accelerates protons to really high energy and smashes them together.

6) The photon was the first of the listed particles to be experimentally observed. Technically, Einstein received his Nobel Prize for the photoelectric effect which was proof of the particle nature of light. Experimental evidence for the neutrino can be found in common nuclear decays, thought direct detection of neutrinos is incredible difficult. The tau lepton was (unexpectedly) discovered at SLAC in the 1970's. It is similar to the electron, but is heavier. The Higgs Boson has not yet been observed.

7) Neutrinos have been theorized to exist since the 1930's from simple equations of conservation of energy and momentum. However, we still do not know much about them. We think there are 3 types - electron, muon, and tau - but an experiment was just completed to confirm previous results that there might be another type. This experiment (miniBoone) did not find evidence of a 4th type. For a long time neutrinos were thought to not have mass (like the photon) but in in the 1990's evidence was found that they have a small mass. This mass is still unknown. It was thought that neutrinos may make up the majority of dark matter, but we are fairly sure that the mass is too small to account for much dark matter. A big remaining question is whether the neutrino is its own antiparticle. In the case of the neutrino this is a very complicated, but very fundamental, question. There are many experiments currently trying to answer this through something called neutrinoless double beta decay.

8) Magnetic monopoles are not a mainstream research topic now. If even a single one exists there are far reaching implications for many fields of physics. There have been experiments to look for them, but none have conclusively found them. Many of the leading experiments today are trying to learn about dark matter, the higgs boson, and the neutrino.

9) The image is an example of a Feynman Diagram. This simple drawing is a way to simplify an incredibly complicated and difficult equation into a representation of particle interactions.

10) You should want to learn more about the universe! Particle physics is our way to to further the knowledge of humanity. We can find out what the universe was like a mere tiny fraction after the big bang. Why was more matter than antimatter created? Why are there four fundamental forces?

Their Analysis (Vertical line = Average)

  • physics-smarts Distribution

    They scored 50% on physics-smarts, higher than 9% of your peers.

All possible test results

Bottom Quark

You didn't do very well. Try looking up some physics articles in wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_particles) or reading A brief History of Time or The Elegant Universe. Either you ... Read more

Down Quark

Perhaps you took a physics class once or read the cliffnotes for "A Brief History of Time". You still have a lot to learn. Go to the physics section of your local library and find a book with a cute... Read more


While your score is right in the middle, I suppose you are still above average. What "average" person would even take this test? You are on your way to a respectful knowledge of physics. Keep ... Read more


Good job! You obviously have paid attention to what is going on in particle physics. You might appreciate reading articles in nature (http://www.nature.com/physics/index.html) about physics. The un... Read more

Quark-gluon plasma

Wow! You are HOT! Either you are an amazing arm-chair physicist, an actual physicist, or are dating a physicist. If not, you should consider it. You certainly have been paying attention to what... Read more

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