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The atom although small in size and great in number is one of the greatest enigmas in the science world today Over 200 different subatomic particles have been found and scientists are still looking for more The most basic parts of the atom are the electron the proton and the neutron These three make up a small group of the know subatomic particles Of these three only the electron is actually a fundamental particle The proton and neutron are both hadrons composed of different smaller particles called quarks Any of the subatomic particles that are built from quarks and thus react through strong nuclear force are hadrons The hadrons include mesons and baryons All known subatomic particles except bosons and leptons are hadrons Except for protons and for neutrons that are bound in nuclei all hadrons have short lives and are produced in the high-energy collisions of subatomic particles Carrigan 35 The other three basic forces of nature also affect hadron behavior all are subject to gravitation charged hadrons obey electromagnetic laws and some hadrons break up by way of the weak nuclear force while others decay via the strong electromagnetic forces Mesons are any member of a family of subatomic particles composed of an even number of quarks and antiquarks Mesons are sensitive to the strong force because their constituent quarks are strongly interacting Mesons consist of an even number of quarks with half-integral spin and so they have integral spin Martin 157 They vary widely in mass ranging from 140 MeV to nearly 10 GeV Various types of mesons have been discovered since their existence was first predicted in 1935 by the Japanese physicist Yukawa Hideki Of those so far identified the pi meson and the K meson are the most important Pi mesons also known as pions are chiefly responsible for the strong interactions between the protons and neutrons in atomic nuclei K mesons or kaons have several competing decay modes
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