Quarks Are Postulated by Gell-Mann and Zweig (Great Events from History II: Science and Technology Series)
Article abstract: Physicists Gell-Mann and Zweig independently discovered that the disturbingly large number of so-called elementary particles can be effective organized by assuming that they are composed of quarks.
Summary of Event
Quarks were postulated in the early 1960’s in an attempt to simplify the field of elementary particle physics by identifying the smallest, and thus truly elementary, building blocks of matter. At the end of the nineteenth century, the most elementary particles were thought to be atoms, out of which the macroscopic world of molecules was composed. During the early decades of the twentieth century, physicists discovered that the atom was not truly elementary but rather was composed of even smaller particles, which became known as protons, electrons, and neutrons. These subatomic particles were believed to be truly elementary and tremendous simplification resulted from the recognition that all the elements on the periodic table were constructed from combinations of these three “elementary” particles.
Further developments in physics, however, especially the study of cosmic rays and collisions in particle accelerators, began to reveal many more supposedly elementary particles and the number of such particles climbed from the familiar three in 1930 to more than one hundred by the 1980’s. This large number was disconcerting to the physics community and became known as...
(The entire section is 2134 words.)
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