Do you have any lasers at Argonne?
Please tell us what is a femtosecond.
What can you tell us about quarks?
1. Yes there are lots of lasers at Argonne... lasers are very
important in scientific research. They are also becoming important
in electronics. Anybody who owns a CD player also owns a laser,
since lasers are used to read the CD's.
2. Have you heard of the metric system? A millisecond is one
thousandth of a second, a microsecond is one millionth of
a second, and then successive thousandth's are:
a nanosecond (a thousandth of a microsecond)
a picosecond (a thousandth of a nanosecond)
a femtosecond (a thousandth of a picosecond)
So a femtosecond is 10^-15 of a second, and a femtometer is
10^-15 of a meter (also none as 1 fermi, the approximate size
of the proton).
3. Quarks seem to be the most elementary particles we
know about making up ordinary matter (in addition to electrons) -
a proton has 3 quarks and a neutron also contains 3 quarks. The
charges on the quarks are multiples of 1/3 the charge on the
electron. Quarks come in 6 varieties, of which the last to be
discovered was the "top" quark, just discovered this year, and which
weighs as much on its own as a gold atom (which contains several
hundred of the ordinary quarks). You should be able to find lots
more information in the library - try Scientific American back issues.
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Update: June 2012