The Standard Model

The Standard Model of Particle Physics is the most complete description of nature that has yet been uncovered by humans. It is a theory for the behavior and interactions of all the known fundamental particles, and it organizes them into a super elegant mathematical framework. Paradoxically the Standard Model is both extremely simple and also deeply intricate,  from a mathematical point of view. The symbolic representation in this figure does it very little justice.


According to the Standard Model, the universe is composed of three basic objects.

The Matter Particles - The particles that make up "hard matter" are represented by the outermost circle in the picture. The hard matter particles can be subdivided into the quarks (red) which are tightly bound in the nuclei of every atom, and the leptons (green) which can be found whimsically floating around the atomic nucleus.

The Force Particles - The particles that communicate forces of attraction and repulsion are represented by the middle circle (blue). The electromagnetic force that generates all of the light in the universe is associated with the photon g. The strong nuclear force that keeps quarks bound inside atomic nuclei is associated with the gluon g. The weak nuclear force that allows particles to change species is associated with the W and the Z.

The Higgs Boson - The Higgs is the lynchpin of the Standard Model, and it sits in the center of the picture. It's interaction with the other particles in the Standard Model endow them with the property called inertia. Its discovery was the final piece of the fifty-year Standard Model puzzle, and the Nobel Prize winning achievement of 2012

If you're interested in more of the physics behind the Standard Model, here are some YouTube animations I made for a workshop that I organized for ~60 high school students in the Seattle area called QuarkNet Masterclass 2017.

One of the most interesting things about nature is that its description changes drastically with scale. As we zoom in and zoom out in our view of space, the fundamental interactions of particles induce drastic changes in the description of objects.




Quantum Field Theory in a Nutshell