子物理科学着眼于物质的基石 – 构成宇宙中大部分物质的原子和粒子。这是一项复杂的科学，需要对高速移动的粒子进行艰苦的测量。当大型强子对撞机（LHC）于2008年9月开始运作时，这项科学得到了极大的推动。它的名字听起来非常“科学小说”，但“对撞机”这个词实际上解释了它的作用：发送两个高能粒子束近27公里长的地下环绕着光速。在适当的时候，光束被迫“碰撞”。光束中的质子然后粉碎在一起，如果一切顺利的话，可以在短时间内创建较小的碎片 – 称为亚原子粒子。他们的行为和存在被记录下来。通过这项活动，物理学家可以更多地了解物质的基本成分。大型强子对撞机的建立是为了回答物理学中一些非常重要的问题，深入研究质量来自哪里，为什么宇宙是由物质而不是其相反的“东西”称为反物质，以及暗物质可能被称为暗物质的神秘“东西”是。当重力和电磁力都与弱力和强力结合成一个无所不包的力量时，它还可以提供关于早期宇宙条件的重要新线索。这只发生在早期宇宙中的短时间内，物理学家想知道它为什么以及如何改变。粒子物理学基本上是寻找物质的基本构件。我们了解构成我们所看到和感受到的一切的原子和分子。原子本身由较小的成分组成：核和电子。原子核本身由质子和中子组成。然而，这并不是最终结果。中子由称为夸克的亚原子粒子组成。有更小的颗粒吗？这就是粒子加速器的设计目标。他们这样做的方式是创造类似于大爆炸之后的状态 – 宇宙开始的事件。那时，大约137亿年前，宇宙只是由粒子构成的。他们在婴儿宇宙中自由散落，不断漫游。这些包括介子，π介子，重子和强子（加速器的名称）。粒子物理学家（研究这些粒子的人）怀疑物质是由至少十二种基本粒子组成的。它们分为夸克（如上所述）和轻子。每种类型有六种。这只能解释自然界中的一些基本粒子。其余的是在超能量碰撞中产生的（无论是在大爆炸中还是在加速器中，如大型强子对撞机）。在这些碰撞中，粒子物理学家可以快速了解大爆炸时的条件，当基本粒子首次被创建时。
The science of particle physics looks at the very building blocks of matter — the atoms and particles that make up much of the material in the cosmos. It’s a complex science that requires painstaking measurements of particles moving at high speeds. This science got a huge boost when the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) began operations in September 2008. Its name sounds very “science-fictiony” but the word “collider” actually explains exactly what it does: send two high-energy particle beams at nearly the speed of light around a 27-kilometer long underground ring. At the right time, the beams are forced to “collide”. Protons in the beams then smash together and, if all goes well, smaller bits and pieces — called subatomic particles — are created for brief moments in time. Their actions and existence are recorded. From that activity, physicists learn more about the very fundamental constituents of matter. The LHC was built to answer some incredibly important questions in physics, delving into where mass comes from, why the cosmos is made of matter instead of its opposite “stuff” called antimatter, and what the mysterious “stuff” known as dark matter could possibly be. It could also provide important new clues about conditions in the very early universe when gravity and electromagnetic forces were all combined with the weak and strong forces into one all-encompassing force. That only happened for a short time in the early universe, and physicists want to know why and how it changed. The science of particle physics is essentially the search for the very basic building blocks of matter. We know about the atoms and molecules that make up everything we see and feel. The atoms themselves are made up of smaller components: the nucleus and electrons. The nucleus is itself made up of protons and neutrons. That’s not the end of the line, however. The neutrons are made up of subatomic particles called quarks. Are there smaller particles? That’s what particle accelerators are designed to find out. The way they do this is to create conditions similar to what it was like just after the Big Bang — the event that began the universe. At that point, some 13.7 billion years ago, the universe was made only of particles. They were scattered freely through the infant cosmos and roamed constantly. These include mesons, pions, baryons, and hadrons (for which the accelerator is named). Particle physicists (the people who study these particles) suspect that matter is made up of at least twelve kinds of fundamental particles. They are divided into quarks (mentioned above) and leptons. There are six of each type. That only accounts for some of the fundamental particles in nature. The rest are created in super-energetic collisions (either in the Big Bang or in accelerators such as the LHC). Inside those collisions, particle physicists get a very fast glimpse at what conditions were like in the Big Bang, when the fundamental particles were first created.