six quarks and three leptons


And there are many answers to the question of how much longer this Russian-doll game will continue. If one is to be absolutely honest, none is reliable, although at least there is a fascinatingly stringent basic system, from whose hat all the currently known subatomic particles can be pulled: the Standard Model of elementary particle physics. It knows six quarks and three leptons (with their respective anti-particles and neutrinos) as well as four bosons which mediate the forces between particles. All these particles and their combinations – christened with nice little names like Charm, Pion and Kaon – are well defined within the model, whose clairvoyant powers border on the magical. And yet particle physicists are not entirely satisfied with their construction kit, because it has a few gaps in it which prevent them from sleeping at night.

more from Ulrich Woelk on the origin of things at Sign and Sight here.