The “Theoreticals” Pack

The Particle Zoo is a colourful set of hand-made soft toys representing the particles in the Standard Model and beyond. It includes a “theoreticals” pack where you can find yet undiscovered particles: the best-selling Higgs boson, the graviton, the tachyon, and dark matter. Supersymmetric particle soft toys are also available on demand. But what would happen to the zoo if Nature had prepared some unexpected surprises? Julie Peasley, the zookeeper, is ready to sew new smiling faces…


The "Theoreticals" pack in the Particle Zoo.

There is only one place in the world where you can buy a smiling Higgs boson and it’s not at CERN, although this is where scientists hope to observe it. The blue star-shaped particle is the best seller of Julie Peasley’s Particle Zoo – a collection of tens of soft toys representing all sorts of particles, including composite and decaying particles. 

Over the years Julie’s zoo has grown in size, variety and complexity. The particularly nice feature about the Particle Zoo is the attention that Julie pays to details: the toys are different in mass, each one has a specific tag and they come with an accurate description of their physical properties. Among the particle packs that Julie proposes to those who can’t decide is the “theoreticals” pack. It contains the Higgs boson, the tachyon, the graviton, and dark matter. “The Higgs boson is the top seller of the entire collection,” Julie says. “I am following the results of your research at CERN very closely because if it exists I can expect requests to increase and if doesn’t, I will have to amend the whole pack!”

On demand, Julie also sews heavy supersymmetric particle toys. “I was going to offer particle toys which were larger and heavier than the regular "squishies" to include the as-yet-unobserved supersymmetric partners: the wino, zino, photino, Higgsino, selectron, stop quark and so on. However, these would be prohibitively expensive to ship overseas and, given the small number of requests, I decided to make them the same size as the regular particles but fill them with gravel to represent their enormous mass,” she explains. Again, she plans to keep updating her stock to take account of new discoveries at CERN and other laboratories.

Changes to Julie’s zoo might also soon come from satellite experiments, in particular from Planck, the ESA spacecraft that was launched in 2009 and that could soon produce a new image of the Cosmic Background Radiation to replace that of WMAP that Julies uses for her Universe toy. “I am ready to update the image with the new one from Planck. I also plan to make a dark energy toy and I have an idea for a black hole,” she says.

Whatever the picture of the Universe and its basic constituents in the months (or years?) to come, Julie has all the enthusiasm to keep her zoo up-to-date with the latest findings. So, should you miss a press release, go quickly to The Particle Zoo website and check what has changed in Julie’s packs!



by CERN Bulletin