This is Particle Physics? May 2, 2007Posted by gordonwatts in physics, physics life, science.
The Wikipedia entry for particle physics does a passable job:
Particle physics is a branch of physics that studies the elementary constituents of matter and radiation, and the interactions between them. It is also called “high energy physics“, because many elementary particles do not occur under normal circumstances in nature, but can be created and detected during energetic collisions of other particles, as is done in particle accelerators.
They talk about finding physics beyond the standard model and the LHC… Nice. But then they have that picture (that I’ve reproduced here). This is the picture of a gold-gold collision at the STAR detector on RHIC (Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider). RHIC is definitely doing physics, though I think it is a stretch to call it particle physics. A gold atom is very complex — many different parton interactions. In particle physics we study mostly two partons interacting. Very different. Indeed, RHIC is often called a nuclear physics experiment for that reason: the whole atom interacts, not just a couple of quarks inside the atom.
I wonder how that picture ended up in Wikipedia?