I stopped at my favourite second hand bookstore on the way home from work. I love perusing the different sections. I always come across books that make me think, did that person not realise how amazing that book is? Lucky for me. In addition to finding two more books to add to my Neil Gaiman collection, I found something called “Charm and Strange”.
Sometimes the title of a book makes you read the book. And often you wonder when the title will make sense. One such book is The Ellegance of the Hedgehog, which is not about hedgehogs at all. Charm and Strange made me pick up the book and the cover didn’t hurt my decision either.
I opened up a bottle of bubbly, and sat in the sun while the dogs played in the garden. It was only when I got to page 44, that I understood what the title referred too. Now I did physics in high school, but remember nothing about quarks. I think we only covered electrons and protons. The narrator of the story describes how sea quarks represent who he is.
Quarks are the tiniest parts of anything. And they come in six flavours: up/down, strange/charm and top/bottom. Each is differentiated by its mass, charge and spin. Also quarks are not stuck with the hand they have been dealt, they can change into different quarks.
They contain particles of matter and antimatter, and where the two touch exists this constant stream of creation and annhiliation. – Charm and Strange by Stephanie Kuehn
The chapters are also divided into matter and antimatter, which is genius when you understand what strange and charm refers to. While reading more about quarks I found myself questioning everything. When it comes to particle physics, nothing is simple.
I’m half way through…
The word and spelling of quark comes from James Joyce’s Finnigan’s Wake: Three quarks for Muster Mark! / Sure he has not got much of a bark / And sure any he has it’s all beside the mark.