View from 30,000 feet

The Standard Model in particle physics is an ongoing project. Our understanding of subatomic particles is expanding as thousands of scientists at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) have been working tirelessly for years. They're are working to find out the secrets of the interaction of quantum scale matter and energy behaves differently than what typical physics theories tell us. The chart below is the current Standard Model.


Quick Terms:

Fermions: The building block of all matter, broken into two parts, Quarks and Leptons, and there are twelve in total and they have half-integer spin. (Can be seen in the picture to the right)

     Quarks interact via the strong interaction

     Leptons do not interact via the strong interaction

Bosons: The second fundamental class of particles and have integer spins.

Composite particles: 

 Hadrons-strongly interacting composite particles

      Composite fermions create baryons usually composed of three quarks

      Composite bosons create mesons usually composed of two quarks


The new set of particles discovered is comprised of css or one charm and two strange quarks. This classifies the particles as a baryon, more specifically a hyperon because there is more than one strange quark. In a single test at LHC, 5 particles were discovered. These particles were discovered in the decay states of the Omega-c-zero, the discovered particles are: (omega_c(3000)0, omega_c(3050)0, omega_c(3066)0, omega_c(3090)0, and omega_c(3119)0. The numbers in the parenthesis show the mass measured in mega-electron-volts. The superscript of zero indicates an isospin of zero but their quantum numbers could not be determined due to the large background present in the sample. This can be seen in the blue dotted line in the graph below.  The black line is the data collected in the LHC with a result line curve fitted to the moving data plot. The five peaks in the mass spectra indicate the five new particles discovered.

Mass spectra of the Omega-c-zero particle source LHCb

Mass spectra of the Omega-c-zero particle source LHCb


So what makes this special? Three main reasons

  1. We have more detail on how multi-quarks states bind themselves together.
  2. The driver of decay is the strong nuclear force, experiments like this are important to refine our understanding of this force.
  3. Investing in science pays off. This discovery was only possible do to a recent increase of the LHC sensors sensitivity. This upgrade gave the LHC the ability to detect the fast decay, occurring faster than  seconds.

Ask your students:

If science experiments today are currently being directly affected by limits in funding, what can scientists do to still try complete their experiments?

Can you think of any technologies, sciences, or discoveries that would be better off with an increase of funding?