General Question

Coexist's avatar

What's the difference between a messenger particle and a matter particle?

Asked by Coexist (53points) March 11th, 2010

In addition, could you tell me their functions and what their roles are in the universe.

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10 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

I will tell you that “messenger” is spelled this way. (And I think your avatar is original and award-worthy.)

ETpro's avatar

In quantum physics, messenger particles (bosons) are the particles that carry the strong, weak and electromagnetic forces between matter. Matter particles are the particles to go to make up atoms. Gluons mediate the strong force, photons the electromagnetic force and W and Z bosons the weak force.

Coexist's avatar

@gailcalled dang I was debating between the two spellings… better luck next time XD
@ETpro Thanks for the info. So for the messenger particles it’s almost as if the bosons are “leading” the particles of the three forces you mentioned? So why doesn’t the bosons “lead” the graviton for the gravitational force as well?

dpworkin's avatar

Maybe the Higgs does.

Rarebear's avatar

@Coexist Not sure what you mean by “leading” and “lead”. The problem with gravitons is that they haven’t been discovered yet. The other forces that @ETpro mentioned are well described.

ETpro's avatar

@Coexist What @Rarebear said about gravitons is exactly right.

Coexist's avatar

@Rarebear and @ETpro thanks for the info. But what did you mean by “carry” when you said “messenger particles (bosons) are the particles that carry…”?
(That’s where I got the “leading” and “lead” from).

Rarebear's avatar

@Coexist Bad choice of words. A force, such as the EM force, the strong force, or the weak force has a particle associated with it. Let’s take the EM force which has the photon as the force particle. A photon can have different energies, based upon its wavelength, but still moves at c. So it’s convention to say that the electromagnetic force is carried by the photon, although it doesn’t physically “carry”. The photon IS the electromagnetic force.

Coexist's avatar

@Rarebear I think I understand what you’r talking about. The photon IS the boson, if I’m not mistaken. I was thinking that the boson and the force particles (photon, gluon, and W & Z bosons) were separate. Thanks!

Rarebear's avatar

@Coexist Right. Exactly.
Nice chart on wikipedia, actually.

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