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Science School – What is a Particle?



So I’m a particle physicist and you may be wondering, what is a particle?  Well, basically, it’s one of those words in physics that we use to describe that which we’re not really quite sure of.  So the basic idea is that we’re going smaller and smaller and smaller and trying to work out basically what everything is made of, and in the early days everything did seem to be particles, lumps of dust or matter or what have you, but as we got smaller and smaller and started smashing things together like you would a watch to see what bits fly out, we found that things got even smaller and you had things like protons, neutrons and electrons.  But then we realised you could go even smaller than that; of course to do that we need much bigger, powerful and expensive machines and that’s basically what science is all about, building more expensive, powerful machines to find out how the universe works.