Any of a group of subatomic particles thought to be among the fundamental constituents of matter—more specifically, of protons and neutrons. The concept of the quark was first proposed by Murray Gell-Mann and George Zweig (b. 1937); its name was taken from James Joyce's novel Finnegans Wake. Quarks include all particles that interact by means of the strong force. They have mass and spin, and they obey the Pauli exclusion principle. They have never been resolved into smaller components, and they never occur alone. Their behaviour is explained by the theory of quantum chromodynamics, which provides a means of calculating their basic properties. There are six types of quarks, called up, down, strange, charm, bottom, and top. Only the up and down quarks are needed to make protons and neutrons; the others occur in heavier, unstable particles.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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