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No. 43: Jan-Feb 1986

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"AND SO ON INFINITUM"

Connoisseurs of facetious scientific poetry will recognize the above title as coming from a poem about vortices which have littler vortices preying upon them, etc. Well, it seems that matter may not have a basement of truly fundamental, indivisible particles either. If one does not count the rather primitive notion of Air, Fire, Earth, and Water, there are five basic levels of compositeness: (1) molecules; (2) atoms; (3) nuclei; (4) nucleons; and (5) quarks and leptons. But now physicists are beginning to see regularities in the lowest accepted layer, quarks and leptons, that betoken a sixth layer of compositeness or subdivisibility. In other words, quarks and leptons are not really fundamental and instead are composed of something else, which will undoubtedly eventually receive fanciful names.

In this article, O.W. Greenberg delves into this sixth stratum and the "regularities" it engenders. The article is really too technical for Science Frontiers, but we thought our readers might like to be warned that our concepts of matter are based on infinite quicksand.

(Greenberg, O.W.; "A New Level of Structure," Physics Today, 38:22, September 1985.)

Comment. With ever-more-gigantic galactic superclusters being charted and the possibility of Big Bangs occurring "somewhere else," matter may also be infinitely aggregative, too.

From Science Frontiers #43, JAN-FEB 1986. 1986-2000 William R. Corliss