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The Standard Model might be the most successful theory in science. But what is it?

Built on the quantum physics breakthroughs of the 1920s, the Standard Model of particle physics is, according to the physicist David Tong at the University of Cambridge, the most successful scientific theory in history. But, unlike other revolutionary theories such as evolution by natural selection, heliocentrism or even general relativity, the Standard Model is quite difficult to sum up in brief. And so, no surprise, it’s nowhere near as widely understood. In this animated explainer, Tong does his best to bridge this knowledge gap without skimping on the complexities. With the aid of some nifty visuals, he details how the Standard Model describes the interactions between 12 elementary particles and three fundamental forces, as well as what’s missing from the model, and why it isn’t quite a theory of everything.

Video by Quanta Magazine

Producers: Emily Buder, Adrian Vásquez de Velasco

9 September 2021

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