The other day I interviewed Jim Al Khalili at the Edinburgh International Science Festival about particle physics.  As part of my deep research for the event I came across this lovely video that explains everything about the topic in 2 min 30 secs….enjoy….

Now, any questions?


  1. I don’t like the loud noisy beat; the tune is very tuneless; and he mispronounces “quark” as “quork”. Bad! Is this one of Richard’s horrid sadistic psychology experiments?

  2. Awesome! Thank you so much for this. I feel like I’ve heard another video from this guy before, but I just spent an hour watching a bunch of the archives. Funny, funny stuff from both people involved in the YouTube channel.

  3. — he mispronounces “quark” as “quirk”

    Murray Gell-Mann wanted “quark” to be pronounced “kwork”, but there’s much debate as James Joyce might have meant it to rhyme with “mark” and it might come from the old word “quark” meaning a sound like the cry of a crow. Some details

  4. there are as many prounounciations of quark as there are of controversy.

    i think the song lacks mention of dark enercy, dark matter, dark space and dark time. it needs a third verse

  5. “Murray Gell-Mann wanted “quark” to be pronounced “kwork””

    Which is why physicists insist on saying “quork” which is prima facie absurd and very annoying to anyone with any sense of language! A good example of how hopeless good scientists can be in any other realm than their own, since anyone of any sense knows instinctively it is best pronounced as it spells, but is forced to adopt the Gell-Mann distortion.

    Obviously, Joyce is the authority in this regard. Would he teach Gell-Mann to parse sub atomic levels? No. So why should we follow Gell-Mann? Because he has a Nobel, of course!

  6. Gell-Mann didn’t have any kind of good reason for spelling it quark and pronouncing it qwork: “In 1963, when I assigned the name “quark” to the fundamental constituents of the nucleon, I had the sound first, without the spelling, which could have been “kwork”. Then, in one of my occasional perusals of Finnegans Wake, by James Joyce, I came across the word “quark” in the phrase “Three quarks for Muster Mark”. Since “quark” (meaning, for one thing, the cry of the gull) was clearly intended to rhyme with “Mark”, as well as “bark” and other such words, I had to find an excuse to pronounce it as “kwork”. But the book represents the dream of a publican named Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker. Words in the text are typically drawn from several sources at once, like the “portmanteau” words in “Through the Looking-Glass”. From time to time, phrases occur in the book that are partially determined by calls for drinks at the bar. I argued, therefore, that perhaps one of the multiple sources of the cry “Three quarks for Muster Mark” might be “Three quarts for Mister Mark”, in which case the pronunciation “kwork” would not be totally unjustified. In any case, the number three fitted perfectly the way quarks occur in nature.”
    But of course a Nobelist is never an idiot,

  7. Oh Christ. I can’t believe you pernickity people are actually discussing how the work quark is pronounced.

    I’m sure the average IQ/attention span of your subscribers gets lower by the day. I’m Sorry Richard, on their behalf.

    Nice video. Although I didn’t retain any of the information in it, I was too busy wondering what ducks with speech impediments say.

  8. “I can’t believe you pernickity people are actually discussing how the work quark is pronounced.

    In America, you will be judged a naif if you pronounce it the “wrong” way. And nothing is more important in the US than how other people judge you. In England, of course, no one judges anyone by such superficial standards. But then, we have a Parliamentary democracy, and the weekly Questions session is a model that demonstrated this important principle weekly.

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