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FEATURE ARTICLE

The Anatomy of a Neutron

The “neutral” part of the atom is far more than buffer or ballast—when viewed at the correct scale

Timothy Paul Smith

2010-11SmithF1.jpgClick to Enlarge ImageNeutrons have the reputation of being dead weight, mere ballast in the atom. But it turns out that we have not been looking at a high enough magnification to see what’s really going on. Recent studies with particle accelerators have shown that the neutron has its own life, with a surface that boils with news particles and a heart alive with quarks and gluons. In fact, at tiny distances, neutrons may not even be entirely neutral.


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