The origins of mass

Dr. Don Lincoln, the advisor on my final MA project, sent me a link to the following article which helps to explain the basic scientific concepts that underly the project I am creating. This is copied from an article written by Dr. Don Lincoln for Fermilab, I have not included the entire article, so if you find it interesting please click on the link at the end and read the rest!

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Origins of mass: It’s not what you think

If you have even the faintest interest in particle physics, you’ve heard about the Higgs boson. The Higgs boson is the leading candidate explanation for the origin of the masses of point-like subatomic particles. By extension, the Higgs boson is the origin of mass in the universe, right? There’s only one problem with that statement–it’s totally wrong.

To clarify, I’m now talking only about ordinary matter. Ordinary matter is the kind that makes up everything familiar to you: you, your mom, the Earth, the stars that seem to twinkle so gently in the clear night sky, but are actually raging thermonuclear furnaces. everything. I’m explicitly not talking about dark matter, which is necessary to explain some astronomical mysteries, but it is totally irrelevant in your day-to-day life.

Ordinary matter is made of atoms. Atoms are made of protons, neutrons and electrons. The protons and neutrons sit in a nucleus, which resides in the center of atoms. Electrons swirl around the nucleus, on the periphery, like a little solar system. Protons and neutrons have about the same mass, so we won’t distinguish between them. We’ll refer to them by the generic term nucleon, as they are found in the nucleus of the atom. So, if matter is made of atoms, where is the mass located in atoms?…

Read the rest of the article here:

http://www.fnal.gov/pub/today/archive/archive_2012/today12-01-13_NutshellMassReadMore.html

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