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Particle Physics

Particle physics is a branch of physics that studies the nature of particles that are the constituents of what is usually referred to as matter and radiation. In current understanding, particles are excitations of quantum fields and interact following their dynamics. Most of the interest in this area is in fundamental fields, each of which cannot be defined as a bound state of other fields. The current set of fundamental fields and their dynamics are summarized in a theory called the Standard Model, therefore particle physics is largely the study of the Standard Model's particle content and its possible extensions.

Modern particle physics research is focused on subatomic particles, including atomic constituents such as electrons, protons, and neutrons (protons and neutrons are composite particles called baryons, made of quarks), produced by radioactive and scattering processes, such as photons, neutrinos, and muons, as well as a wide range of exotic particles. To be specific, the term particle is a misnomer from classical physics because the dynamics of particle physics are governed by quantum mechanics. As such, they exhibit wave-particle duality, displaying particle-like behavior under certain experimental conditions and wave-like behavior in others. In more technical terms, they are described by quantum state vectors in a Hilbert space, which is also treated in quantum field theory. Following the convention of particle physicists, elementary particles refer to objects such as electrons and photons as it is well known that those types of particles display wave-like properties as well.