Proton
One of the two basic elementary particles found the atomic nucleus, the other being the neutron. It has a positive charge equal and opposite that of the electron, and a mass similar to the neutron. Protons have a mass of 1.007276 daltons, or 1.6726 = 10-27 kg.
 
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  • Baryon
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    An elementary particle with a unit electrical charge and a mass 1/1837 of the proton. Electrons surround the atom's positively charged nucleus and determine the atom's chemical properties.
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    Matter particle consisting of quarks or antiquarks. Hadrons are divided into mesons, composed of a quark and an antiquark, and baryons, composed of three quarks or three antiquarks.
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    Subatomic particle that is susceptible to the weak nuclear force but not the strong force (the force that binds an atomic nucleus together). There are six leptons: the electron, muon, tau, electron neutrino, muon neutrino, and tau neutrino.
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    Particles composed of a quark and an antiquark; the lowest mass mesons (the pi and K mesons) have masses intermediate between leptons and baryons. All mesons are unstable.
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    An electrically neutral lepton of spin 1/2 and extremely low mass that interacts only via the weak force and gravity and as a consequence can typically pass unimpeded through ordinary matter. A common popular illustration of this is that a burst of neutrinos could pass through a light year's thickness of lead and still retain better than two thirds of its strength. There are three known varieties in conventional matter, one in each generation of particles, associated with electron, muon, and tau leptons.
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    Uncharged atomic nuclear particle. It has a mass slightly greater than a proton. In beta decay, a neutron decays into a proton, an electron, and an anti-neutrino.
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    The process whereby the nucleus of an unstable (radioactive) heavy element spontaneously splits into two smaller nuclei, releasing energy and charged particles.
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    The study of the physical processes at the scale of the atomic nucleus. Concerns itself with the structure and behavior of the atomic nucleus according quantum mechanics and particle physics; with practical applications in the working of nuclear reactors, radioactive fission, and fusion burning in the interior of stars.
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    A self-perpetuating chain reaction involving the production of heavy nuclei from the fusion of lighter ones, or lighter nuclei from the fission of heavier ones.
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    A power plant that uses controlled atomic fission or fusion to generate energy.
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    The era following the Leptonic Era, between 1 second and 1,000 seconds after the Big Bang, in which light elements (helium and deuterium) are synthesized during the hot early phases of the hot Big Bang.
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    The central part of an atom, made up of protons and neutrons, and containing nearly all of the atomic mass.
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    The quantum unit of electromagnetic radiation, having some properties of a wave. For each wavelength, the photon has a different energy.
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    A series of three thermonuclear reactions that convert hydrogen nuclei to helium nuclei, converting a tiny amount of mass into energy. The process is efficient at temperatures above 10,000,000 K. In most less massive stars, this chain is the primary source of heat and radiation. The proton-proton chain converts hydrogen into helium releasing energy in the form of particles and gamma-rays. Hydrogen is converted into helium in a chain of reactions. The first reaction takes an average of 1 billion years to occur while the others are much shorter. Generally there are so many hydrogen nuclei that the 1 billion year waiting period does not stop it from producing tremendous radiation.
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    The fundamental particles of hadronic matter such as protons, neutrons and mesons. There exist six 'flavors' of quarks: up, down, strange, charm, top and bottom. They are confined to hadrons by the strong force.
 
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Development Notes
Text by M. Alan Kazlev

Initially published on 19 December 2001.