Physics: Matter, energy, waves, & particles


What makes up the universe?

Matter, energy, waves, and particles?

Humans first thoughts about matter (stuff, substance, objects) was to wonder what everything was made of and to wonder how small an individual piece of matter could be and still be the substance.

Ancient Greeks and Indians thought and wrote that all physical things (matter) was made from five basic elements, and organized them from bottom up: earth, water, air, fire and aether (matter in space).

The Greeks created the word, atom, meaning uncutable for the smallest particle that has all the properties of any substance that makes different kinds of matter in the universe. Today this could be atoms, elements, and molecules, depending on the substance.


Particle is a source of matter that exists at a single point. It is the building block to explain mechanics (motion and the forces that create it).

Wave is used to explain electromagnetism, electric and magnetic fields and their interactions. They exist everywhere except at the point that creates them.

Energy is the ability to do work. Work is moving something against a force. Defined as W(ork) = f(orce) * d(istance) * cosine θ (the angle of force different than the direction applied. If the direction of force is the same as direction of motion, then θ is 0 and cosine of zero is 1)

Together, these are the building blocks of all kinds of matter.

Matter contains a huge amount of energy (Einstein showed with, E = mc2).

Energy can travel as electromagnetic waves: heat, light, radio, x-ray, microwave, gamma ray.

Your body metabolizes energy as chemical changes.

Larry M. Silverberg & Jeffrey Eischen explain matter as being made of energy fragments. Source

Superposition is when objects exist in two or more states at the same time.

Entangled is when objects are exactly the same and in different positions.

Quantum Means count or quantity or discrete quantity.

Can’t count or measure small quantities so use probabilities.

Duality - wave or particle or both

Field used to explain actions across space or interactions at a distance.

Universal constants (same anywhere in universe)

Micro matter


Over time atoms were found to be composed of hadrons: protons, neutrons,(with an atomic mass of about one), and electrons. With the protons and neutrons located in the nucleus (together called nucleons) with most nuclei surrounded by a swarm of electrons. Altogether they make an atom, with a diameter of about 10-8 cm.

The total average number of protons and neutrons is the atomic mass, with each element having different mass numbers, based on the number of protons. Since the number of protons determines the kind of element, the atomic number is unique for each each element. Also since the average electrical charge of an element is neutral, the atomic number also represents an equal number of electrons.

However, not all nucleons (nuclei) of an element have the same number of neutrons. As the number of protons increase for different elements, the number of neutrons increases a few more than the number of protons increase. This results in atoms, with the same number of protons, sometimes having slightly different numbers of neutrons, which make different atomic masses for different varieties of the same elements (isotopes). For example: fluorine has one isotope and tin has ten with most having at least two.

This creates two values: the atomic number, which is always a whole number representing the number of protons in an element and atomic mass, which ranges from slightly more than double the atomic number to slightly more than 2.5 times, because of the different amount of neutrons. The atomic mass, or weight, is calculated from the average of large amounts of each element as it is found in nature. Which will include its isotopes (elements with different numbers neutrons). Because of the different isotopes, the atomic mass (number of protons & average number of neutrons) is slightly more than twice the atomic number (the number of protons).

Matter vibrates

Resources about Particles


Bosons include

Bosons can exist in the same state as the same time. and they tend to clump together. Like lasers with streams of photons with the same quantum state.


Photon is a particle that represents a quantum of light or other electromagnetic radiation. A photon has energy proportional to the radiation frequency but has zero rest mass.

Photons are so sensitive they are destroyed when measure. Vertical polarized light can pass through vertical slit. Horizontally polarized light cannot pass through vertical slit, but bounces off.


Fermion is a particle that follows Fermi–Dirac statistics and obey the Pauli exclusion principle. They have half-integer spin (1/2, 3/2, ... ). Electron, proton, leptons, quarks, ... There are 12 types of elementary fermions - 6 quarks and 6 leptons.

Fermions keep to themselves. No two can exist in the same quantum state at the same time. They make solid mateer


Quarks - have color symmetry and a spin of 1/2. The protons and neutrons in the nucleus of an atom are made of quarks. There are six types or "flavors" of quarks:

Leptons. (spin 1/2)


Electrons and its two super massive sisters - muons and taus are normally found around an atom's nucleus.

Muon - 200 electron masses. Muon g-2 (muon gee minus two) experiment found each muon is charged (like a little bar magnet) and will circle a magnetic field. If a muon enters a magnetic field in a perpendicular orientation it will precess like a compass needle. Theory suggests if a muon is polarized in the direction it travels it locks their will in orbit. However, the muon continually emits and reabsorbs other particles (pop into and out of existence) which increases the muon’s magnetism and will precess faster than it circulates. It can emit and reabsorb any particle and the change in magnetism can signal the particle. Positively charged muons decay into positrons spit out in the direction of the muon’s polarization. Therefore, muons can be tracked by detecting positrons.


Neutron - will decompose into a proton + electron + neutrino


Neutrinos, the electron neutrino, muon neutrino, and tau neutrino. Lightweight and weakly interacting.



Protons are made with three quarks and held together with gluons. They have a positive charged and a radius = 10 -15m


Composite particles and more

Composite particles - hadrons - composed of other particles. Hadrons are made of two or more quarks and held together with the strong force. Therefore, are not fundamental. They include baryons and mesons.

Neutron - will decompose into a proton + electron + neutrino

Protons are made with three quarks and held together with gluons. They have a positive charged and a radius = 10 -15m

Beta decay - two types when a nucleus has either too many protons or neutrons

Baryons. (spin 1/2, 3/2) Baryons are fermions composed of three quarks. The most important baryons are the two nucleons: the proton (up-up-down quarks) and the neutron (up-down-down quarks). Some other baryons are the sigma, lambda, xi, delta, and omega-minus.

Mesons. (spin 0, 1) Mesons are bosons composed of a quark and antiquark. Some mesons are the pion, kaon, eta, rho, omega, and phi.

Antiparticles. All particles have a corresponding anti-particle that is identical in many ways but opposite in others; for example, the mass and spin are the same but the charge is opposite. An uncharged particle may be its own anti-particle.

Dark energy matter grows with space

Bose Einstein condensate - single quantum wave 1924.

Super partner = super symmetry = link between bosons and fermions that make up matter. Hypothetical partners - Every standard particle may have a superpartner particle: a fermion for each boson and a boson for each fermion

Elements - Noble gases (monatomic) He, N, Ar, Kr, Xe, Ra

Quasi-particles and other non-particles

Many quantized states are not real particles, but are conveniently named and treated as if they were real particles. Some are the quantized modes of collections of particles.

Standard model (SM) of particle physics

Standard model (SM) of particle physics is based on the idea that each particle is an excited state of a corresponding field and the force between them.

A force field arises when a third particle is exchanged. It fails to explain some observations: dark matter, dark energy, how atoms survived the Big Band, value of the cosmological constant (lamda = 2.036 * 10 -35 s-2), ...

Cosmological constant was created by Einstein when he thought the Universe was not expanding.

Matter and antimatter particles -

Matter - antimatter asymmetry requires forces that change strength when matter and antimatter particles are interchanged (an operation called conjugation C) with their mirror image particle (called parity transformation P) known as conjugation parity (CP). These forces violate CP symmetry in the standard model (SM) model. To preserve total symmetry CP is said to violate time-reversal (T) symmetry so that CPT is preserved.

The electron electric dipole moment (EDM) is an intrinsic property of an electron such that the potential energy is linearly related to the strength of the electric field. An electron's EDM must be collinear with the direction of the electron's magnetic moment (spin).

Within the SM of elementary particle physics, such a dipole is predicted to be non-zero but very small, at most 10−38 e·cm, where e stands for the elementary charge. The existence of a non-zero electron electric dipole moment would imply a violation of both P (parity) and T (time reversal).

In the SM, the electron EDM arises from the CP violation components of the CKM matrix. The moment is very small because the CP violation involves quarks, not electrons directly, so it can only arise by quantum processes where virtual quarks are created, interact with the electron, and then are annihilated.

Magnetic dipole is the closed circulation of an electric current.

An electric dipole is a separation of positive and negative charges.

A chiral phenomenon is not identical to its mirror image (asymmetric). Hands - left and right are chiral because they are mirror images of each other, but however you reorient them, you will not be able to make them overlap.

Symmetry example


Vibrations and waves

Vibration is an oscillation (a back and forth motion) like a vibrating clarinet reed, drum head, and sloshing liquid in a container. An oscillation is local event. A wave travels.

Vibration result from the interaction of moving particles. For example vibrations of salt or water on a table will, from a distance look like waves, but close up look like random jumping particles.

Vibrations depends on the space between particles, force, position of a force relative to the particles around it, the density of particles, volume of space around the particles, rate of motion (temperature - cool - slow, hot - fast burn). See video of particles of four different colors of sand on a table vibrating and interacting.

Waves transfers energy from one place to another without a net flow of mass. When motion is viewed as waves, particles appear to travel in a pulse or in ripples. Motion that can be standing or traveling and in the direction the particles are moving (longitudinal) or at right angles (transverse) or a combination of both, water waves. . While waves are sometimes thought of as a collection of particles, it is an over simplification in some ways.

First, water/smoke, ... waves are not actually one wave after another. Each wave is composed of many particles moving and interacting. Therefore, what we see is a collection of particles in motion interacting with each other particles. The wave is an explanation of the collective action of the particles. Which can be overlooked when explanations use the invention of the words, wave or waves.

Second, the interaction of water particles and other substances that are floating, suspended, or sunk is explained with Newtonian physics, which works on particles (10-4) or larger scale. However, photons, electrons, and all other subatomic particles are best explained with Einsteinian physics, which works on particles (10-5) or smaller scale.

Properties of waves include:

Waves and energy

What we see as light and heat are reproduced, transferred, and changed with interactions of energy. Energy that leaves the sun and is reproduced when it reaches Earth and interacts with Earth particles on Earth or in the atmosphere.

Solar particles, that produce heat and light, generally do not leave the sun. Energy in forms of radiation, waves, spirals, .. travel to and interact with Earth.

Lens compress and focus energy they don’t multiply energy.


Fields are everywhere and act like liquids as ripples and waves. When a wave is formed a particle is created.

Electromagnetic force as quantum fields - quantum electrodynamics (QED). Ripples in one field can create ripples in another field.

Quantum electrodynamics (QED) describes the forces between electrons and matter and light and electrons. Proton electron mass ratio. Mp/Me.

Forces, fields & matter

Four fundamental forces and their fields. Elementary bosons - follow the Bose–Einstein statistics - spins are integers. They transmit forces that function as glue, may stick together, can occupy the same quantum state.

  1. Strong nuclear force gluon fields is on a smaller scale (< less than 0.8 fm, radius of a nucleon) is the force carried by gluons that holds quarks together to form protons, neutrons, and other hadron particles. Gluon has spin 1 the nuclear force or color force.
    Source shows nice animation of particles
  2. Weak nuclear force W± and Z fields cause radioactive decay. W± and Z bosons carry the weak force and have spin 1.
  3. Gravity warps space time, force between masses, gravity waves, ripple space time. Missing from the SM. Graviton has spin 2. Gravitons [predicted] carry the gravity force.
  4. Electromagnetism photon field carry the electric and magnetic fields. Photon has spin 1 and are particles of light. Light is an electromagnetic wave. Photons - can boost electron levels up and down energy. W1, W2, W3, and B bosons carry the electroweak force and have spin 1. When the electroweak force split into the electromagnetic and weak forces, the W1, W2, W3, B, and Higgs remix to make W±, Z, photon, and Higgs.

* Higgs boson. (spin 0) The Higgs boson is an excitation of the Higgs field. The Higgs field gives particles of matter and the W & Z bosons their inertial mass, but not massless particles like the photon.

Conservation of energy

Nature, back to nature, balance of nature, harmony of nature Unlimited abundance

Free energy technologies may be $ free, cheep, or inexpensive, However, energy is always conserved so not physics free.  For example a refrigerator using power connected to the grid will cost money for the electricity. The same frig could be powered off the grid with solar panels, not cost money beyond the cost of the equipment. Or a Zero pot cooler could chill fruit and veggies without electricity. However, all three will transfer the same amount of heat energy if each are to maintain the fruit and veggies at the same temperature for the same length of time.


If electrons traveled at light speed, they would think they arrived at their destination when they left their point of origin. (Like photons of light.)



Molecules are held together with chemical bonds

Chemical bond is a fairly stable attraction caused by an electrical force that holds atoms, ions, and molecules together, which makes a chemical compound.

Covalent bond or ionic bond.

Covalent bond is a chemical bond made when atoms share one or more electrons. Often each atom shares an electron to make a pair of shared electrons.

Ionic bond is a chemical bond between ions with opposite electrostatic charges where one atom gives up one or more electrons to another atom and holds them together by that force of attraction. Unequal sharing. Clump like magnets in crystal structures.

Examples of ionic bonded chemicals or molecules



The simplest molecule has two protons bound by an electron.

A Hydrogen ion coded as ( ≡ means identical to)

H2 ≡ p+ + p+ + e-

A hydrogen deuteride ion is a hydrogen molecule, with one proton replaced by a deuteron.

HD+ ≡ p+ + d+ + e-



Dr. Robert Sweetland's notes
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