Visualizing Subatomic Particles

Feynman diagrams show the trajectory and interactions of particles as they move through space and time. They were introduced, in 1948, to the physics world by Richard Feynman, a theoretical physicist. The beauty of this diagram is that it simplified and visualized some seriously abstract and complex mathematical calculations. However, listening or reading an explanation of this diagram might not be easy for everyone, so we made it simpler.

Feynman scattering necklace - science jewelry

…how do you read this thing?

The diagram basically shows particles colliding and the resulting products. Start from the left and move to the right. The arrows show an electron and a positron (yes, it moves backwards in time) canceling each other out. Boom. What comes out? The squiggly line in the middle is a photon, the lines on the right side are a quark and an antiquark. And finally, a gluon is represented by a curly line. This is not the standard physics explanation of a Feynman diagram, in case you were wondering.

Come back, biologists!

We know that there are biologists out there screaming, “NOPE! This is why I did not enjoy physics at all!” 
We understand. Words like quark and gluon are as unfamiliar in biology as vorticella and dehydrogenase are in physics.
But a better way to look at the Feynman diagram is to think of it like drawings of DNA or chromosomes. Two intertwined lines with lines connecting them down the middle are used to represent DNA. X’s and Y’s are used to represent chromosomes. Through these drawings, we can express and represent much more complex processes such as endonuclease activity in a CRISPR-Cas9 system.

Physics, biology, science

There’s an old way of thinking when it comes to the sciences. Most people get caught up in the compartmentalized way biology, chemistry, and physics was taught to them. But the fact is, all these topics are connected, they interact with each other, and they’re really one thing: science. And what is science? It’s the culmination of centuries of questions and experiments and more questions. So, biologists (if you’re still here), we have the perfect olive branch for you to reach out to the physicists, our Feynman scattering necklace. It’s perfect for theoretical physicists, mathematicians, researchers in *that* department you never visit, and starry-eyed physics undergraduates.

written by Science with Evie


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