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Proton

Inner Structure

Research has shown the proton to be made up of even smaller constituent particles. A proton is found to consist of two "up" quarks, each with a +2/3 electric charge, and one "down" quark, with a -1/3 electric charge. The individual quarks are held together by particles called gluons. The up and down quarks are currently believed to be two of the three fundamental particles of all matter. Recent research has revealed the possibility of an even deeper substructure, and further work could lead to new theories which may overturn the current model of the proton's structure.

Resources

Books

Baeyer, Hans Christian von. Rainbows, Snowflakes and Quarks. New York: Random House, 1984.

Rothman, Tony. Instant Physics. New York: Fawcett Columbine, 1995.

Trefil, James. From Atoms to Quarks. New York: Doubleday, 1980.


Periodicals

Hellemans, Alexander. "Searching for the Spin of the Proton." Science 267 (March 1995): 1767.

Peterson, Ivars. "The Stuff of Protons." Science News 146 (27 August 1994): 140-41.


Michael G. Roepel

KEY TERMS

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Atomic number

—The number of protons in the nucleus of an atom.

Gluons

—Subatomic particles that help to keep quarks bound together.

Quarks

—Believed to be the most fundamental units of protons and neutrons.

Radioactivity

—Spontaneous release of subatomic particles or gamma rays by unstable atoms as their nuclei decay.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Propagation to Quantum electrodynamics (QED)Proton - Discovery And Properties, Inner Structure