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b’, t’… what the hell! January 9, 2007

Posted by dorigo in games, humor, language, personal, physics, science.

By answering a question by Sabine (http://backreaction.blogspot.com/) in the comments section of a recent post (https://dorigo.wordpress.com/2007/01/07/a-new-precise-top-mass-measurement-with-jets/) I suggested a much bettter pair of names to the hypothesized fourth generation of quarks than those sometimes given in recent searches. So let me percolate that remark up here, in the hope somebody really influential appreciates my idea and marries it.

Indeed, just priming the third generation (t’, b’) is so dumb! Save the primes for mathematicians, and keep creativity strong, as is our tradition as physicists.

So I hereby propose the following naming convention for the fourth generation of quarks: in addition to the six already discovered quarks, named

  • u (up)
  • d (down)
  • c (charm)
  • s (strange)
  • t (top)
  • b (bottom)

if a fourth generation is found, let the names of the seventh and eight quarks be

  • w (weird)
  • n (nerd)

Despite the n being already used for the neutron (there is no real conflict between a weird quark w and the uppercase vector boson W), there is no real confusion possible, since neutrons are composite objects and their phenomenology, their habitat, their mass, their lifetime, their charge… most everything is different except their spin.

So here is the proposed new scheme:




1. Blake Stacey - January 9, 2007

f for fear and l for loathing?

2. dorigo - January 9, 2007

Well, good try, but I still prefer mine…

3. Alexander W. Janssen - January 9, 2007

And the fifth generation is probably g (geek) and d (dork)?

4. Georg - January 9, 2007

“weird” would have to be a down-type quark to match the pattern (down->bottom, up->top, so: strange->weird)

5. dorigo - January 9, 2007

Hmmm, I cannot accept Alex’s suggestion because g is too easy to mistake for a gluon, and d is already taken by the down quark. Too bad, because it was in the right spirit…
Instead, Georg’s contribution is valid. I think the pair can be (nerd,weird) with nerd a +2/3, up-type quark, and weird a -1/3, down-type one.


6. Bee - January 10, 2007

🙂 This is nice! I still prefer ‘faith’ and ‘hope’ though. Best,


7. dorigo - January 10, 2007

More hmmm… faith and hope are part of a trinity of virtues, the other being charity. Stands out as an odd pair…

8. Guess Who - January 10, 2007

Quarks are named in opposites: up versus down, top versus bottom, even strange versus charm if you adopt a slightly female point of view (“That guy is really strange… but that other guy, he’s really charming!”). 🙂

Weird and nerd does not follow this pattern; clearly, nerds are weird, and you could even argue that the fourth generation should be named from the female (high school student) point of view, like the second.

I therefore suggest “n” and “j”, for “nerd” and “jock”.

9. dorigo - January 10, 2007

Jock ? Evidently my English resources have run out on this one. Let me get my Webster out. Ah. A male athlete ?
Ok. Maybe weird and nerd are not opposites, but I still like them… Jock does not belong to my lexicon and so I fail to get enamoured with your proposal…

10. Guess Who - January 10, 2007

Jock: male high school athlete (as in captain of the football team) who gets all the chicks, while the poor nerd enviously looks on, hiding behind a stack of books on quantum weirdness.

11. dorigo - January 11, 2007

Ok that makes sense… An amusing thing happened to me yesterday evening: while reading the next-to-last chapter of “The Trouble with Physics” by Lee Smolin, I stumbled into the word “jock” – he used it exactly in the context of university life, as opposed to nerds immersed in books and not scoring with girls.
As far as I can recall, I had never seen that word before – which only means I am good at removing unwanted information (such as non-understood words).


12. Andrea Giammanco - January 12, 2007

It’s the typical “tarpone effect”, i.e. finding a word everywhere immediately after the first time in your life that notice it.
I will explain the meaning of “tarpone” when we will meet in person (and you will encounter the word “tarpone” very often immediately after, according to the “tarpone effect”;))

13. dorigo - January 12, 2007

Ok Andrea, I count on it. Would Tuesday at lunch suit you ? Canteen ?


14. Andrea Giammanco - January 12, 2007

ok, let’s keep in contact.

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