Are all subatomic particles quantized?
I know for a fact that photons are quantized, but what about other subatomic particles?
- Anonymous1 decade agoFavorite Answer
Quarks and Leptons are the building blocks which build up matter, i.e., they are seen as the "elementary particles". In the present standard model, there are six "flavors" of quarks. They can successfully account for all known mesons and baryons (over 200). The most familiar baryons are the proton and neutron, which are each constructed from up and down quarks. Quarks are observed to occur only in combinations of two quarks (mesons), three quarks (baryons), and the recently discovered particles with five quarks (pentaquark).
There are six leptons in the present structure, the electron, muon, and tau particles and their associated neutrinos. The different varieties of the elementary particles are commonly called "flavors", and the neutrinos here are considered to have distinctly different flavor.
Important principles for all particle interactions are the conservation of lepton number and the the conservation of baryon number.
- Anonymous1 decade ago
ALL particles/waves, no matter what the size, obey quantum mechanics. They come in discrete chunks (quantization) and obey wave mechanics.
You just won't notice this for everyday objects because Planck's constant is so small.
Customarily, in order to reconcile this point with their classical intuition, quantum newbies must do the following two exercises:
The first is to calculate the deBroglie wavelength of a baseball or a train or a person or something like that. This shows you why baseballs don't exhibit noticeable wave characteristics.
The second is to calculate the zero point energy of some wave or macroscopic oscillator like a pendulum. This explains why the pendulum's energy appears continuous and not quantized.
- 1 decade ago
This is a good question. The original formulation of quantum mechanics, which is still very useful and was state of the art till the early-middle 20th century, relied on quantised matter in the presence of unquantised force fields. Photons existed as a result of electrons being bound to atoms only at discrete energy levels, but were not a necessary property of the electrical field. This state of affairs is actually logically inconsistent, and the next step, completed after the 1920s, was the `second quantisation' of force fields themselves. Today the theory for electricity and its interaction with matter is fully quantum, and the weak force is also quantum, and sort of a suburb of it. For the quark-gluon interaction (sometimes called the strong force, or the colour force because there are three types of charge), there is only a quantum theory: a classical approximation does not even exist. All that remains is that the presently accepted theory for gravity, Einstein's, is not quantised.
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- 1 decade ago
The notion of quantization only really makes sense applied to continuous quantities. That is, light (which classically appears to be continuous) is quantized in packets - photons. Bound state energy levels in an atom, which superficially appear to be continuous, turn out to be quantized in discrete levels.
Since subatomic particles are already discretized, it doesn't quite make sense to discuss quantizing particles. Quantization is the requirement of discrete values of apparently continuous quantities due to the laws of quantum mechanics.
While we can refer to photons - quanta of light - and phonons as quanta of vibrations (for example), the notion of a "quantum of electrons" doesn't make any sense.
It is true that parameters of subatomic particles which classically can take on a continuum of values are quantized (spin, orbital angular momentum, bound energy levels, etc), the particles themselves are not "quantized."