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Essential Elements

46 47 ExotIc PartIclES subatomic siblings Cosmic rays hitting the upper atmosphere ionize atoms, creating cascades of subatomic particles. Visible as the polar auroras, branching streamers of baryons and mesons shed electrons, positrons and rays to cause further chain reactions. Shortlived particles transmute into stable, lower energy ones. Hidden structures are being revealed in experiments colliding protons and other matter at near light speeds in accelerators and cyclotrons where bubbles trace the curling paths of hundreds of exotic particles, colliding and transmuting. Some are higher energy versions, or resonances, of others, once again blurring the distinctions between particles and waves. Symmetrical patterns link together aspects of this orchestra. Called the eightfold way after a Buddhist idea, whole families of relationships have been charted in octets lower opposite left that correlate charges, spins, and other characteristics. These hyperdimensional maps draw a new kind of periodic table as nature s strings reveal their subtle harmonics. So where does it all come from and who plucked the first note
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