Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Accurately Depicting The Internal Structure Of The Proton

Most common textbook and popular press illustrations of the internal structure of the proton get it wrong in light of the available evidence.  Sabine Hossenfelder at Backreaction, sets us straight. The middle illustration is preferred.


Tom Andersen said...

You may have heard that a proton is made from three quarks. Indeed here are several pages that say so. This is a lie — a white lie, but a big one. In fact there are zillions of gluons, antiquarks, and quarks in a proton. The standard shorthand, “the proton is made from two up quarks and one down quark”, is really a statement that the proton has two more up quarks than up antiquarks, and one more down quark than down antiquarks. To make the glib shorthand correct you need to add the phrase “plus zillions of gluons and zillions of quark-antiquark pairs.” Without this phrase, one’s view of the proton is so simplistic that it is not possible to understand the LHC at all.

Matt Strassler calls the three quarks in a bottle a 'white lie'.

andrew said...

The grey fuzz in the illustration is supposed to represent the zillions of gluons and quark-antiquark pairs.