Monday, November 23, 2009

What's in a Name?

When it comes to the illustrious history of particle physics, names can often fuel interest in research directions. I’m talking about the names of the subatomic particles themselves. Case in point, consider the name “quark.”

Nobel Prize winning physicist Murray Gell-Mann chose the name quark (which is the “squawk” of a gull) from a line in Irish author James Joyce's 1939 book of comic fiction Finnegans Wake (see page 383):

"Three quarks for Muster Mark."

Independently, the physicist George Zweig suggested a similar idea, calling the building-block particles "aces". Not quite as catchy a name, it didn’t take hold and quark became a permanent part of the physics vernacular (and Star Trek Deep Space Nine characters).

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for choosing to leave a comment for the Physics Groupie. Much appreciated!