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Questioning the theory of fundamental particles watch

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    I am just interested to know your opinions/thoughts on this...

    I have recently studied particle physics as part of my A-level course and this involved learning about the standard model of particle physics, where 12 fundamental particles are recognised. However, what confuses me is that these particles must be 'made up of something/have a structure' to exist and have mass..if they were fundamental one could argue that they could only be made up of 'themselves' or nothing else (how then would they exist/have mass) which doesn't make sense. How can there be such thing as fundamental particles as this chain of events will continue on an on - a bit like the theory of infinity.

    This makes me think that along the line Physicists have missed something and have yet discovered something that will make the idea of fundamental particles understandable..maybe it's beyond our brain power to understand this concept. Or even more likely that we have got something wrong!
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    We call them fundamental particles because we do not think that they have structure. Before quarks we thought that protons and neutrons were fundamental particles. Before protons and neutrons we thought that atoms were fundamental particles.

    The whole of particle physics is the quest to understand these fundamental particles and either show that they are fundamental or to search for another layer beneath.

    Currently physicists are working on a theory called String Theory which says that all the fundamental particles are different modes of vibrations of tiny strings of energy.

    So basically we haven't got anything wrong, we just don't have any better theory at this moment in time.
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    I understand exactly what you are saying but how can something exist but have no structure? It has a mass, so therefore must be made of 'something'.
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    If you say so. Last I heard the only requirement for mass was having energy. Where are you getting that assertion from?
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    It's not so much an assertion but my apparent lack of depth of knowledge of physics, after all you study it at University. It's just an assumption I made that mass is a result of components/structure..I didn't know that energy results in mass - maybe I should, who knows?!

    I'm not picking holes in physics, I enjoy it, hence why I'm trying to understand it better - that's all. I understand now have the fundamental particles can have mass but no structure - my question is answered.
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    When you get down to such a fundamental level then you do actually have to come up with a reason as to why certain particles have mass. Some theories talk about a Higgs field which permeates the universe and that mass arises as an interaction between matter and the Higgs field. It's all very technical and far too complicated for my fragile undergrad mind .
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    (Original post by AntiMagicMan)
    When you get down to such a fundamental level then you do actually have to come up with a reason as to why certain particles have mass. Some theories talk about a Higgs field which permeates the universe and that mass arises as an interaction between matter and the Higgs field. It's all very technical and far too complicated for my fragile undergrad mind .
    Thanks for answering my question , it's put my mind at ease now. It's a bit worrying for me though that I didn't think about the relation of energy to mass, after all I know Einstein's equation E=mc^2. Perhaps I just never really thought hard enough - great physicist I'd be
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    What level have you just done, and what are you going to do next year?

    Don't worry about it. Thinking about fundamental particles is confusing, and there is still a massive amount we don't know about them.
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    (Original post by AntiMagicMan)
    What level have you just done, and what are you going to do next year?

    Don't worry about it. Thinking about fundamental particles is confusing, and there is still a massive amount we don't know about them.
    I've just completed my A-levels. If all goes well I will be studying Aeronautical Engineering next year. I've always been thinking about doing a physics degree rather than engineering because I enjoy it/find it interesting.
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    current ideas suggest that the funamental couple of the higgs field via a higgs boson, which couples with itself (baffling huh). The higgs boson is a virtual exchange, so there is no need to suggest that the funamental particles are actually made of higgs bosons, instead they just appear briefly, cause inertia, and then disappear, over and over again. Well that's what my readings have taught me anyway.
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    (Original post by female_engineer)
    I've just completed my A-levels. If all goes well I will be studying Aeronautical Engineering next year. I've always been thinking about doing a physics degree rather than engineering because I enjoy it/find it interesting.
    I don't know anything about Aeronautical Engineering, but I certainly couldn't sit down and do a straight engineering degree. Engineers probally do the most work out of any subject at my university
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    (Original post by AntiMagicMan)
    I don't know anything about Aeronautical Engineering, but I certainly couldn't sit down and do a straight engineering degree. Engineers probally do the most work out of any subject at my university
    Why couldn't you do an engineering degree? How much work are we talking here?
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    Well they have the most lectures around 30 hours a week, compared to my schedule of about 20 a week, and (the ones who actually did well in their first year) they have to spend loads of time working and revising, compared to my pitiful attempts at work. Though that could just be because I am genuinely good at my subject .
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    (Original post by AntiMagicMan)
    Well they have the most lectures around 30 hours a week, compared to my schedule of about 20 a week, and (the ones who actually did well in their first year) they have to spend loads of time working and revising, compared to my pitiful attempts at work. Though that could just be because I am genuinely good at my subject .
    I would have thought though that a straight degree in Physics is harder than engineering, which is a combination of maths and physics. Time will tell though...
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    (Original post by female_engineer)
    I would have thought though that a straight degree in Physics is harder than engineering, which is a combination of maths and physics. Time will tell though...
    "Hard" is a relative thing. You give an engineer a problem in relativity and they would be probably be clueless. You ask a physicist to design a structure that is able to support a given load and subject to various constraints and they'd probably be clueless too even though in principle they have the knowledge (i.e. Newton's Law, Material Laws etc.) to do it.
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    I do a combined honours degree in Maths and Physics. The problem is that my interests are all in the theoretical side, whereas engineering is ultra practical stuff. I frankly would die of boredom if I had to spend an entire module studying how beams bend, or solving the equation for fluid flow. Yet I am perfectly comfortable learning about the theory of relativityl, quantum mechanics and analytic number theory . I guess it all depends on where your interests lie. If I am not interested in a subject then I will not take the time to sit down and understand it.
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    (Original post by shiny)
    "Hard" is a relative thing. You give an engineer a problem in relativity and they would be probably be clueless. You ask a physicist to design a structure that is able to support a given load and subject to various constraints and they'd probably be clueless too even though in principle they have the knowledge (i.e. Newton's Law, Material Laws etc.) to do it.
    I really enjoy physics...is the content of physics in an engineering degree sufficient to justify not doing a degree in physics. I chose engineering because it will allow me to study everything about aircraft but at the same time I really like physics - i.e. theory
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    (Original post by female_engineer)
    I really enjoy physics...is the content of physics in an engineering degree sufficient to justify not doing a degree in physics. I chose engineering because it will allow me to study everything about aircraft but at the same time I really like physics.
    Imo there isn't much physics at all in engineering. Sure you'll become intimately aquainted with Newtons laws, and mechanics. But you'll miss all the fun parts of physics, like Relativity, Quantum Mechanics and Particle Physics. You will however probally do basic Electromagnetism, Maxwell's Laws and stuff like that.
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    (Original post by AntiMagicMan)
    Imo there isn't much physics at all in engineering. Sure you'll become intimately aquainted with Newtons laws, and mechanics. But you'll miss all the fun parts of physics, like Relativity, Quantum Mechanics and Particle Physics. You will however probally do basic Electromagnetism, Maxwell's Laws and stuff like that.
    OK then . I've never touched on stuff like relativity in my A-level so obviously my interest in physics has come from the stuff like Newtons laws and mechanics, which if I will be becoming 'intimately aquainted' with then that's fine for me.
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    (Original post by female_engineer)
    I really enjoy physics...is the content of physics in an engineering degree sufficient to justify not doing a degree in physics. I chose engineering because it will allow me to study everything about aircraft but at the same time I really like physics - i.e. theory
    You do get theory in Engineering. Of course, it won't be in things like Relativity or Particle Physics or something (unless you are doing something very specialist as a course option).
 
 
 
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