Inquiring Minds

Questions About Physics

Is a quark a sound particle?

You Wrote:

I am not a scientist; however, I have become curious about the quark.

I'm sure you're extremely busy, but if you would placate me for a moment I would be most appreciative. My minuscule physics aptitude is limited to some vague experience that I recall dreading in high school for about 9 months everyday during third period. Therefore, if you opt to respond to my quest for knowledge please use only the most simple of lay terms. I do recall from my college freshman chemistry course (1964) that there is a Valance Chart, and that atoms consisted of protons, neutrons and electrons.

For the past few days I have been scouring the Internet for a description, or definition of a quark. I was told that a quark is composed of sound particles, or is a sound particle. I have read that a quark and gluons hold the nucleus of atoms together.

Would you please shed some light on this for me? Or even direct me to a web site that is geared to those who are science challenged.

Thank you for your time, and I hope that you had a nice holiday.

Guy Obert

Dear Guy,

Happy New Year! Thanks for your inquiry.

Both protons and neutrons are made out of quarks and gluons. However, we don't know whether quarks and gluons are made of anything, or whether they are the ultimate building blocks of the universe. The quarks - based on present-day knowledge - have nothing to do with sound (vibrations of air molecules). However, some (yet unproven) theories suggest that they might be vibrations of a multi-dimensional space. The theory is called Superstring Theory.

To learn more about the subject, I recommend the following Web pages:

Introduction to quarks and gluons:

Introduction to Superstring Theory:

or in more detail:

I hope this helps. Thanks for your interest,

Kurt Riesselmann, Physicist
Fermilab Public Affairs

Back to Questions About Physics Main Page

last modified 1/13/2003