Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Plush Elementary Particles

I really don't know what to make of these. :)

A enterprising individual has decided to market plush toys modeled after the elementary particles. I kid you not (no pun intended).

The Particle Zoo menagerie includes familiar protons, electrons and neutrons — straight from the pages of any school science textbook. But others, such as quarks and neutrinos, are less known. So a label on each toy lists a few facts about the real particle.

Quarks are fundamental building blocks of matter, and physicists have identified six of them and assigned quaint names: Up, Down, Top, Bottom, Strange and Charm. Peasley's plush versions are triangular-shaped and, appropriately, point up or down, while others definitely have "charm" or look "strange" with three eyes.

Neutrinos were proposed by physicists over half a century ago to explain small losses of energy during nuclear reactions, so Peasley designed her neutrinos with black bandit masks over the eyes because they "steal energy."

It appears that many institutions have ordered them for "educational purposes", and they also have been given to a few Nobel Laureates. Still, what educational value can they have? Isn't this like teaching kids the Bohr model of the atom, and then having to make major corrections to that when we teach them quantum mechanics for those lucky enough to actually study quantum mechanics properly? What about those who didn't? Would they continue with the erroneous picture that they were given early in the childhood?



Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

Aw, please. They're just stuffed pets. I'm certain that no child is going to suffer any intellectual damage just because the particles don't look "real".