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Introductory Comments: Elementary Particles
elementary particles

The world we live in is exceedingly complicated. A scientist, trying to understand how the world works, notes the almost infinite variety of things: air, water, earth, rock, hard metals, mist, clouds and so on.

The earliest scientists proposed a strategy for understanding everything. In 480 B.C. the Greek philosopher Democritus proposed that all things were made of "atoms." These "atoms" were too small to see but in their ceaseless motions they could collide and accumulate. Democritus' ideas were, of course, primitive but essentially correct.

Today, we know that all matter is made of atoms, and that atoms are complex structures made of smaller and more elementary objects. To understand the most fundamental particles and the forces that cause them to cluster and interact to build up the things we can see and touch is, then, the "first science." All other sciences - materials science, chemistry, biology - ultimately must rest on the basic laws of nature that govern the behavior of the elementary particles. 
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