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The Six Flavors of Quarks

How It's Used

"The Tevatron is the world's highest energy particle accelerator, and when protons collide with antiprotons inside its detectors, they do so at energies just under two trillion electronvolts. The stupendous power of the Tevatron made possible the 1995 discovery of the top quark -- the last of six flavors of quarks predicted by the standard model theory of particle physics."—Malcolm W. Browne, "A Millennial Angst for Particle Physics," The New York Times, January 19, 1999.
“Quark — An elementary particle, of which there are six 'flavors' (up, down, strange, charmed, bottom, top), thought to be a fundamental unit of matter.”—Tom Paulson, “Physicist at UW Delve into Nuts and Bolts of Quarks,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, February 24, 2003, p. B1.
“Though six flavors of quarks have been found — up, down, strange, charm, bottom and top — all but the first two have been seen only fleetingly in exotic, short-lived particles such as mesons.”—Byron Spice, “In Quark World, a Strange Discovery,” The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 27, 2005.
"In 1995 Fermilab first produced top quarks, the heaviest and most elusive of the six quark types, in collisions between protons and antiprotons that generated both the top quark and its antimatter twin. These top-antitop pairs form via the so-called strong force, which binds quarks together. Very rarely, according to the Standard Model of particle physics, top quarks may emerge in collisions via the weak force, which causes radioactive decay and can convert one flavor of quark to another. Such weakly made tops, however, would come without their antitop companions (instead a different antiquark, an antibottom quark, forms with the top quark)."—Alexander Hellemans, "Alone at the Top: Closer to God: Fermilab Makes Solo Top Quarks," Scientific American, March, 2007.
Quarks are fundamental particles, meaning there are no particles inside them. There are six "flavors" of quarks, divided into three families. “The first family consists of so-called up quarks and down quarks. Up and down quarks reside inside protons and neutrons. The other two families are the heavier charm and strange quarks and the even heavier top and bottom quarks.”—Jim Ritter, “'It was like finding a small needle in a large haystack'; Look fast! Particle lasts one-trillionth of a second,” The Chicago Sun-Times, June 14, 2007.


Related on eAlmanac
The Three Elementary Particles
The Four Flavors
Five Flavor Life Savers®

Beyond eAlmanac
Wikipedia article on Quarks
The New York Times Science Section on Quarks

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