Anonymous asked in Science & MathematicsPhysics · 1 decade ago

Are atoms really the most basic form of matter?

Ok, so I've been told that atoms are the most basic form of matter. But then, they proceeded to tell me that they are made up of protons, neutrons, and electrons. Then i continued to hear about quarks, which make up protons and neutrons, which are then made up of string?

if you can, please explain string theory as well, since that is another thing i don't really understand

5 Answers

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Yeah, well I don't know why they told you that atoms are the most basic form of matter then.

    As you said, atoms are made up of protons, neutrons, and electrons.

    Protons and neutrons are made of different types of quarks-- And it is theorized that quarks, among other basic particles like electrons, muons and bosons (messenger particles) like gluons and photons. And then strings, if you think string theory is correct.

    String theory is hard to explain well in a brief way. It pretty much says that every fundamental particle (like gluons, quark, etc.) is a one-dimensional, vibrating string. The vibrations (energy) of the string give the particle its mass, because E=MC^2 states that energy and mass are interchangeable... It is a good theory because it has found a way to combine General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics, which are both at odds.

    But there is a lot more to string theory. I recommend Brian Greene's book, The Elegant Universe, to get a more in-depth understanding of string theory and what it entails. :))

    <3 Have fun!

    Source(s): Like the first answerer said, in Chemistry they are basic-- But in Physics, they are quite divisible. :))
  • 1 decade ago

    atoms are pretty much the most basic form of matter when it comes to *chemistry* - atoms bond together (ionically or covalently) into molecules....

    you are right to recognize that atoms are not indivisible in physics, and you correctly listed the nucleons & electrons that make up atoms, as well as the quarks and gluons than make up the nucleons...

    this is where the divisions stop as far as experimentally observable things go. Fermilab looked for signatures of both quark substructure as well as a "4th family" of quarks, and saw neither. we'll see if the LHC changes this.

    string theory is a theoretical framework. it is not presently viewed as something that implies a substructure of quarks. rather it's an attempt to describe these particles in a way that can eventually be folded into a grand unification theory including gravity (yes, i am probably oversimplifying for the purists here). there is not yet any experimental result that confirms a prediction made only by the string model. other approaches are in fact working with things called "branes", which are, if you like, vibrating "sheets" as opposed to vibrating strings...


  • 1 decade ago

    simply put - a proton or electron or neutron or quark is a vibrating bit of string composed of.....? A standing wave, I suppose. Still - the electron, etc, are known to exist. The existence of quarks is not as firmly grounded, but it seem that they too exist. But strings of what - where are these strings? I've a feeling that string theory may give the right answers to Physics but never be proven. By this I mean that the basic string, if it exists, may be forever undetectable.

    But watch - some one will prove me wrong tomorrow..................

  • 4 years ago

    The atom is a uncomplicated unit of count which comprise a dense, needed nucleus surrounded via a cloud of negatively charged electrons. it is likewise the smallest unit of length.

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  • 1 decade ago

    The Large Halon Collider (LHC) is suppose to answer exactly this question. What is the God particle, the smallest of the small?

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