Dissecting Matter

Gian Francesco Giudice

in A Zeptospace Odyssey: A Journey into the Physics of the LHC

Published in print December 2009 | ISBN: 9780199581917
Published online February 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191723001 | DOI:
Dissecting Matter

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This chapter recounts the historical process that led to the understanding that matter is not a continuous substance, but comes in lumps. The philosophical concept of atoms, postulated by the Greek philosopher Democritus, entered science with the study of chemical reactions and properties of gases. But the first direct evidence for a corpuscular structure of matter came with the discovery of the electron by J. J. Thomson. The next step was Rutherford's discovery of the atomic nucleus, followed by the understanding that the nucleus is made of protons and neutrons. The exploration of the subatomic world led to the development of quantum mechanics, a theory which revolutionized our interpretation of physical reality. The chapter describes also the discovery and the meaning of antimatter.

Keywords: matter; atom; electron; atomic nucleus; proton; neutron; elementary particles; antimatter

Chapter.  7458 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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