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Quantum Theory

Probability and Wave Functions

types of quarks, building block of matter, antimatter, electric charge, neutrons

Quark, smallest known building block of matter. Quarks never occur alone; they always are found in combination with other quarks in larger particles of matter. By studying these larger particles, scientists have determined the properties of quarks. Protons and neutrons, the particles that make up the nuclei of atoms, consist of quarks. Without quarks there would be no atoms, and without atoms, matter would not exist as we know it.

Six types of quarks exist. They are designated up, down, charm, strange, top, and bottom. All quarks have a certain mass and electric charge. Ordinary matter—that is, matter made up of atoms—contains only the two lightest quarks, up and down. The next lightest quarks—charm and strange—are found in particles called cosmic rays, which originate in space. Scientists have produced top and bottom, the heaviest quarks, in the laboratory, but they have not found these quarks in nature. Many physicists and astronomers believe that right after the big bang, the explosion that originated the universe, all six types of quark existed. The heavier quarks, however, immediately decayed into the lighter types.

Quarks have antiparticle counterparts called antiquarks, which combine to compose antimatter. Antimatter does not exist in nature on Earth, and most scientists believe that it is fairly rare in the universe, but physicists have produced it in the laboratory. Antiquarks have many of the same properties as their corresponding quarks, but some of their properties are opposite to that of their counterparts.

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types of quarks, building block of matter, antimatter, electric charge, neutrons, Protons, atoms, big bang, astronomers, physicists, explosion, universe, charm, Earth, scientists, nature, laboratory, properties, combination, space

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