You are here:

Physics/Higgs boson


I'm re-watching a show on the Science Channel called "How Small Is the Universe?"(2012) and in it they refer to the Higgs boson as the final piece in the Standard Model, which has 17 fundamental particles.

I thought it was 16.

Is there something new or was that just a mis-statement?


ANSWER: Well, most sources would quote about 61 fundamental particles in all their flavors and/or colors.  I mean, the W bosons alone you have to group them by charge...kind of a cheat to call it only 16 or even 17 fundamental particles.  So still a kind of misstatement, depending on who you talk to.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

Thanks for the quick reply.
But I'm asking about the Standard Model.  Doesn't it predict exactly 16?

That's really an oversimplification.  Within the three previously observed families of particles, they were arranged in an oversimplified 4x4 grid of particle types.  Yes, that makes 16, the Higgs makes 17 to create the previously unexplained particle responsible for mass.  However, within those types there are subtypes that are "fundamental" and not distinguished within that chart.  If you consider all the subtypes then there are like 61.  Otherwise, there are now 17...and keep in mind that the graviton has not yet been observed, and the standard model does not explain many things yet.   If you want to oversimplify, then for now it's 17.


All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Dr. Stephen O. Nelson


I can answer most basic physics questions, physics questions about science fiction and everyday observations of physics, etc. I'm also usually good for science fair advice (I'm the regional science fair director). I do not answer homework problems. I will occasionally point out where a homework solution went wrong, though. I'm usually good at explaining odd observations that seem counterintuitive, energy science, nuclear physics, nuclear astrophysics, and alternative theories of physics are my specialties.


I was a physics professor at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin, research in nuclear technology and nuclear astrophysics. My travelling science show saw over 20,000 students of all ages. I taught physics, nuclear chemistry, radiation safety, vacuum technology, and answer tons of questions as I tour schools encouraging students to consider careers in science. I moved on to a non-academic job with more research just recently.

Ph. D. from Duke University in physics, research in nuclear astrophysics reactions, gamma-ray astronomy technology, and advanced nuclear reactors.

©2017 All rights reserved.