A New Picture of Particles and Forces
The usual accounts of the fundamental building blocks of matter and their interactions are often incomplete or misleading. We present a fundamentally different approach.
Everything we observe in the universe is based on a handful of fundamental particles that interact with each other in just a few different ways. In the 1970s, theorists developed a series of equations for this network, which today form the Standard Model of particle physics. A few pieces of the puzzle are still missing: any components of the mysterious dark matter, mediators of gravity and an explanation for the mass of neutrinos. Nevertheless, it describes almost all phenomena extremely precisely.
Amazingly, a concept of such fundamental importance still lacks a truly satisfying graphical representation. Some approaches make it too easy for themselves or ignore important connections, while others are too confusing. The most common visualization shows something like a periodic table of particles.
That doesn't reveal anything about the relationship between them. Rather, the force-transmitting particles (namely the photon for the electromagnetic force, the W and Z bosons for the "weak" and the gluons for the "strong" force) are on the same level as those components of matter on which the interactions take place (quarks as well as electrons and neutrinos with their heavier relatives). In addition, key properties such as the so-called color charge are not taken into account…