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   Forgive me if this isn’t new, but do you remember how atoms are now considered?

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   An electron has a familiar -1 charge. It “whirls around” outside the nucleus.

   A proton in the nucleus of an atom, has a +1 charge, but now it’s known to be made up of 3 “quarks”¹, (two “up” quarks and one “down” quark).

   An up quark has a +2/3 charge. The downer, however, has a pathetic 1/3 charge.

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   What?!

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   For more there’s the DOOR.

 

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   [MORE]

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   So the up quark is still a smaller bit inside the proton which is now a  a +1 “package.” The 3rd quark, the “down” one has only a -1/3 charge. What’s going on? Time for recalling just how calculating fractions go. For each up quark there’s a 2/3 charge. That’s 2/3 + 2/3 -1/3 = 3/3 = 1.

   The older, “classical” proton has to be looked at a bit differently, but it keeps the same charge.

   While we’re on this, let’s look at the (old) classical neutrons that’s also (usually) in the nucleus along with protons . It’s also made up of 3 quarks, but in this case it’s 1 up quark and 2 down quarks. So, this time it’s  2/3 – 1/3 -1/3 = 0.

   The neutron has put on some clothes, but it keeps its old neutral (“0″) charge.

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   ¹ A quark is, of course, even tinier than a proton. Its name comes from a line in James Joyce’s Finnigans Wake: “three quarks for Muster Mark.” If, by the way, expressing charge in fractions, seems weird, just remember that first charge measurements, along with height and mass, were measured (and numbered) according to arbitrarily decided units. The charge of atomic particles–in spite of being looked at now much more closely after decades of additional research–remains the same as before.