Protons Can Be of Different Sizes Depending on How the Beholder Looks at Them

Protons Can Be of Different Sizes Depending on How the Beholder Looks at Them

Protons, the positively charged particles that make up the nuclei of atoms, can exhibit strange and unexpected behavior. For example, scientists have observed that protons can seemingly disappear in certain conditions, only to reappear later on. This phenomenon is known as “ghosting” and is believed to be caused by protons briefly combining with other particles to form exotic states of matter.

Additionally, protons can also display a characteristic called “charge symmetry breaking,” which means that their positive charge is not distributed evenly within the particle. Instead, the charge is slightly higher on one side of the proton than on the other. This asymmetry has implications for our understanding of nuclear physics and the behavior of matter at the subatomic level.

But perhaps a proton’s behavior can be even weirder than we thought.

Protons never cease to amaze us

NewScientist reveals that recent experiments have shown that the size of a proton changes depending on whether you are observing its charge or mass. The proton consists of quarks and gluons, with the latter containing most of its mass. Researchers have probed the proton’s gluons and found that their mass is concentrated in a dense core at the center of the proton, while the quarks’ charge extends to a larger radius.

The discovery could have implications for calculating other properties of the proton, such as its spin and energy distribution, but more precise experiments are needed to validate these findings.

At the quantum level, the behavior of individual atoms can be highly unpredictable and subject to probabilistic effects.

In quantum mechanics, the position and momentum of a particle are described by probability distributions rather than definite values. This means that it is impossible to predict with certainty where an individual atom will be at a specific point in time. Instead, scientists can only make predictions about the probability of finding an atom in a particular location or with a particular energy state.

The new study was published in Nature.


Even since he was a child, Cristian was staring curiously at the stars, wondering about the Universe and our place in it. Today he's seeing his dream come true by writing about the latest news in astronomy. Cristian is also glad to be covering health and other science topics, having significant experience in writing about such fields.

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