GeV and TeV

G stands for Giga, or billion.

T stands for Tera, or trillion.

eV stands for “electron-volt”, and it is a measure of energy.

  • If an electron moves from one terminal of a nine-volt battery to the other, its motion energy will increase by nine electron-volts.

That’s it.

To get a sense of scale: The mass energy of a proton, m_proton times c-squared (c being the speed of light), is 0.938 GeV.  So if you took a proton and its anti-particle, an anti-proton, and allowed them to slowly meet and annihilate, they might sometimes turn into two photons (particles of light) and each of the two photons would have 0.938 GeV of energy.

An electron has 0.000511 GeV of mass energy.

A top quark, the heaviest elementary particle known so far, has about 172 GeV of mass energy.  That’s just a bit below the mass energy of an atom of gold.

The proton-antiproton collisions at the Tevatron are at 1.96 TeV, or 1960 GeV.  The proton-proton collisions at the LHC are currently (July 2011) at 7 TeV, or 7000 GeV.  The design of the LHC should allow for collision energies twice that high, 14 TeV, after the design flaws in the magnet-protection system found in 2008 are corrected in 2013.

10 responses to “GeV and TeV

  1. Prof. Strassler,
    I’m thoroughly enjoying reading all the articles on your blog; keep up the great work! I have a question that’s been on my mind for a long time, and it’s about terminology:

    When a particle and antiparticle collide, why is it called “annihilation,” when in fact they don’t *really* annihilate (as in, turn into nothing), but simply transform into different particles? Don’t you think this is an unnecessary source of confusion for laypeople? Or is it just my pedantic attention to definitions?

    • I agree that the language is confusing and in many ways inappropriate; it has historical roots, as do many misnomers. [There are worse examples, I assure you.] I think the term goes back to the 1930s back when people were first coming to grips with anti-particles. At that time the distinction between matter particles and light seemed more dramatic than it does now. Today we use very similar methods to describe both electrons and photons; back then they did not.

  2. Hi Matt, I left school on the day I turned 15 many years ago, but over the years i have developed a strong interest in Physics and Chemistry (I have even designed a new very logical layout for the Periodic Table of the Elements) I am finding it quite easy to follow online lectures on physics, but I have a lot to learn about its LANGUAGE…I look up Dirac’s (my hero) Equation and find MANY versions!!!..GRRRRR! Am I stupid or what? Would you mind corrresponding with me to help sort this stuff out? I DO have interesting ideas. All I need is a bit of tutoring and encouragement.

  3. Hello I am Wessel Vendrig, I am interrested in kwantummechanics. I have some theory’s about annihilatie end de-annihilatie of electrons and positrons and the emission and de-emission of gamma-rays. Electromagnetic-rays go into mass. I have a theory that the rays (two photons) curl-up into an electron and positron. The magnetic component go’s from an 2-dimension ray into an 3-dimension ball. So this magnetic 3-D interaction may give the electron and positron it’s gravity. I see gravity as an diferent form of magnetisme. I have a PowerPoint of it.

    I hope some people will shoot on this.
    later, Wessel Vendrig

  4. İsmet Şahin

    Prof. Strassler,
    How gives Higs Boson mass to the elementary partickle?

  5. Dmitry Brandt: Only portions of a particle and an anti-particle turn into new particles;some of the mass of the two particles is converted to energy.

  6. Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied
    on the video to make your point. You definitely know what youre
    talking about, why waste your intelligence on just posting
    videos to your blog when you could be giving us something enlightening to read?

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