Are We Really Made of Quarks?

The answer to the question, “Are we really made of quarks?, is yes; but physicists did not arrive at this answer easily. The quark model, which embodied a radically new conceptual view of the structure of matter, was fiercely debated and generally rejected by the physics community. Its ultimate acceptance took well over a decade and occurred only after inescapable and compelling experimental evidence was obtained.

In 1964 quarks were proposed as the basic building blocks of matter. After numerous fruitless searches for free quarks in nature, the great majority of physicists rejected this model. Quarks were finally discovered in a series of high energy electron scattering experiments. In these experiments, the electron beam and the detecting equipment were the equivalent of a very powerful electron microscope that probed the interiors of the proton and neutron. Point-like constituents were observed inside, which were later identified as quarks. The discovery of quarks changed our view of the basic structure of matter and altered the future development of particle physics.

Jerome Isaac Friedman is an American physicist. He is a Professor of Statistics at Stanford University.

He was born in Chicago, Illinois, to parents who emigrated to the US from Russia, and excelled particularly in art while growing up. He became interested in physics after reading a book on relativity written by Albert Einstein, and as a result he turned down a scholarship to the Art Institute of Chicago to study physics at the University of Chicago. While there he worked under Enrico Fermi, and eventually received his Ph.D. in physics in 1956. In 1960 he joined the physics faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

HISE with Nobel Laureate Jerome Friedman at UABC Mexicali