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COINCIDENCE SEVEN--You'll Get a Charge Out of This.
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COINCIDENCE SEVEN--You'll Get a Charge Out of This.
16th Mar 2014, 12:48 PM
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Author Notes:
Much of this is dervied from George Greenstein's SYMBIOTIC UNIVERSE.

I'm symplifying the proton a bit. In addition to the two "up" quarks (charge: 2/3 a positive integer charge) and the one "down" quark (charge: 1/3 a netative integer charge) and the strong force's gluons holding them together, there are quark-antiquark pairs being created constantly--it's more chaotic in a proton than I indicated.

Quarks never form particles with a non-integer charge, according to the group symmetries of the Standard Model. This is because quarks have a property called "colour", which is either "red", "green" or "blue". (These are just labels. It has nothing to do with actual color.) Quarks can only form colourless (or "white") combinations. This means either a red, a green and a blue quark combine resulting in an integer charge, or a quark and antiquark combine (red + antired = colourless) resulting in an integer charge. For those interested, three quark combos are called baryons, two quark combos are called mesons.

The quark charge isn't considered "fundamental" because quarks never exist in isolation, only in these combinations.

Muons, which are 200 times heavier than the electron, has the exact same negative charge as the electron. Both are leptons, fundamental particles not composed of smaller particles like quarks. Yet they too form one integer charge.

The integer charge seems to be a basic "quantum" of charge--it only comes in discrete amounts, and no other--not as varied as, say, mass. If it were not so--the cosmos would be a much more boring place, a monotomic fog of particles repelling each other, doubtless with no complicated structures or living beings.

So the fact that a proton and an electron are as different as they are in mass is important to our existence--but so is the quantisized nature of charge, the way the electron and proton's charge EXACTLY balances each other out.

Maybe another time I'll talk about quantization in general--and why it's essential for our existence.

Next week, a change of pace: OBJECTION ONE: The size of the universe--too big a setting?

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User comments:
stars have enough mass to force to like charges together constantly. the larger the object the more mass it has and thus the more gravity to overcome electromagnetic force. i read somewhere that this force accumulates faster than the electromagnetic force (charges), making larger objects able to handle a greater discrepancy. though that still means life wouldn't exist without the proper balance.
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