Investigating the Subatomic World

What is Nuclear/Particle Physics?

The strong nuclear interaction is responsible for binding the smallest nuclear particles, quarks, into composite particles called hadrons.  Hadrons are grouped into two categories:
  • Baryons - nuclear particles with three quarks.  The most common examples are protons and neutrons.
  • Mesons - nuclear particles with two quarks or more precisely a quark and an anti-quarks.  The lightest of the mesons are the pions, with masses about 7 to 8 times smaller than a proton.
The quarks come in six flavors: up, down, strange, charm, top, and bottom.  Quarks also carry a nuclear charge called color.  There are three color charges labelled red, blue, and green.  There are also color anti-charges of anti-red, anti-blue, and anti-green.

A hadron must be color neutral by containing quarks with all three colors or by quark/anti-quark pairs that give a total color charge of zero.

The myriad of quark combinations into hadrons is cataloged by the Particle Data Group at the Lawrence Berkeley Lab.

What is CMENP?

The Canisius Medium Energy Nuclear Physics (CMENP) is a research group in the Department of Physics at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY.  The group consists of Dr. Michael Wood and a team of undergraduate students.

The goal of the group is to conduct cutting-edge research of the behavior of quarks in hadrons.  Currently, our research is divided into two projects:

  1. Modification of hadrons in the nuclear medium - we know that hadrons are made up of quarks.  A lot of our knowledge about the properties of hadrons has come from studying reactions of the hadrons produced from a proton.  Our group is investigating whether those hadronic properties will change when the hadron is inside of a nucleus.  Does the cloud of quarks that make up the nucleus alter the mass, width, and interactions of the hadrons as they traverse the nucleus? Specifically, we are studying the behavior of the long-lived mesons, like the neutral kaon, in heavy nuclei, such as Fe and Pb.
  2. Quark Confinement and Hadronization - quark confinement is the explanation of why we do not observe free quarks.  At cold temperature, like those in an atomic nucleus, the quarks condense into protons and neutrons.  When a quark is liberated from a proton, the energy released by the nuclear bonds creates quarks and anti-quarks from the vacuum.  This mix of quarks will produce a proton and a new hadron.  This process of forming color-neutral hadrons from free quarks is called hadronization.  Our group is investigating quantitatively the hadronization of massive mesons like the omega and the f1.
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