All of the normal matter that makes up you and me is comprised of ordinary boring atoms – neutrons, protons and electrons in various combinations. It would be nice if that were the be-all-and-end-all of things. Alas, our matter, you and me type matter, is just the First Generation of all things that matter. There’s also a Second and indeed a Third Generation of matter which nobody can explain the existence or relevance of from first principles. However, since these additional generations exist, we might as well have a bit of “what if” fun with them.
We are aware that for some totally unknown and unexplained reason, there are three generations of elementary particles * and thus presumably in theory there could be three generations of atoms, molecules, and related objects with structure and substance – like you and me **. However, there only seems to exist just the First Generation of atoms through to you and me and the rest of ordinary matter throughout the Cosmos. But, as a thought experiment, would you and me still be you and me if we were composed of Second or Third Generation particles?
But firstly, this raises an interesting question. Why isn’t there a Fourth Generation of particles? I mean if there is no rhyme or reason for there to be three generations, then why not four (or more)? That would subtract nothing in terms of the rhyme or reason already noted.
* The three generations of elementary particles are as follows:
First Generation with +2/3rds electric charge:
– Up Quarks
Second Generation with +2/3rds electric charge:
– Charm Quarks
Third Generation with +2/3rds electric charge:
– Top Quarks
First Generation with -1/3rd electric charge:
– Down Quarks
Second Generation with -1/3rd electric charge:
– Strange Quarks
Third Generation with -1/3rd electric charge:
– Bottom Quarks
A First Generation Proton:
– Two Up Quarks plus one Down Quark
A Second Generation Pseudo-‘Proton’:
– Two Charm Quarks plus one Strange Quark
A Third Generation Pseudo-‘Proton’:
– Two Top Quarks plus one Bottom Quark
A First Generation Neutron:
– Two Down Quarks plus one Up Quark
A Second Generation Pseudo-‘Neutron’:
– Two Strange Quarks plus one Charm Quark
A Third Generation Pseudo-‘Neutron’:
– Two Bottom Quarks plus one Top Quark
First Generation with a -1 electric charge:
Second Generation with a -1 electric charge:
Third Generation with a -1 electric charge:
– Tau particle
First Generation with no electric charge:
– Electron Neutrino
Second Generation with no electric charge:
– Muon Neutrino
Third Generation with no electric charge:
– Tau Neutrino
One should note here that as one goes from First to Second to Third Generation particles, the particles in question get ever more massive. So a Muon for example is way more massive than an Electron and a Tau particle is more massive than a Muon even though all three have an identical electric charge. The same mass increases are observed in the Quarks and in the Neutrinos.
Now one can play games here and replace Electrons with Second Generation Muons or Third Generation Tau particles; replace Up and Down Quarks with Second Generation Charm and Strange Quarks or with Third Generation Top and Bottom Quarks. However, I’ve yet to see this ‘game’ played out in the literature. But one could ask what kind of atoms with what kind of chemistry would second or third generation particles make **? Would you still have carbon or pseudo-‘carbon’?
A Second Generation Pseudo-‘Carbon’ Atom would be…
– Six Muons ‘orbiting’ six Pseudo-‘Protons’ composed of two Charm Quarks plus one Strange Quark and six Pseudo-‘Neutrons’ composed of two Bottom Quarks plus one Top Quark.
A Third Generation Pseudo-‘Carbon’ Atom would be…
– Six Tau particles ‘orbiting’ six Pseudo-‘Protons’ composed of two Top Quarks plus one Bottom Quark and six Pseudo-‘Neutrons’ composed of two Strange Quarks plus one Charm Quark.
One must note here that any Second or Third Generation Pseudo-‘Carbon’ atom would be way heavier than the standard First Generation Carbon atom that makes up a nice percentage of you and me.
To further complicate things, all of these three generations have an equal and opposite counterpart of antimatter, so you have an anti-Electron (a Positron) and an anti-Muon and an anti-Tau. There really could be a First Generation antimatter version of you and me, but you really wouldn’t then want to meet and greet your First Generation antimatter opposite. You both would annihilate each other in a might burst of pure energy. In a similar vein, there could be a Second and Third Generation antimatter version of you (or maybe not) **. An interesting question is, what if a normal matter First Generation version of you met a Second or Third antimatter Generation version of you. Would that pose an annihilation problem?
Now another interesting question is would a Positron annihilate with a Muon (as it would with an Electron)? Would an anti-Tau particle annihilate with an Electron or a Muon? Probably not because although the electric charges are equal and opposite, the masses are different which suggests that equal but opposite electric charges are not the be-all-and-end-all of matter – antimatter annihilations. The proof of that pudding is that within First Generation particles, an electron (-) meeting and greeting a proton (+) won’t annihilate each other into pure energy.
** You might not be able to have Second and Third Generation atoms and so on up the line or scale of increasing complexity to you and me, but you should have Second and Third Generation nucleons – Pseudo-‘Protons’ and Pseudo-”Neutrons’ composed of Second Generation Charm and Strange Quarks and Third Generation Top and Bottom Quarks respectively. First Generation nucleons, the atomic nuclei that ultimately make us up, are composed of Up and Down Quarks.
One probable reason for the lack of Second and Third Generation atoms is that Muons and Tau particles decay in quick-smart fashion so they don’t stick around long enough to make stable Second or Third Generation atoms, molecules and associated chemistry. The Muon rapidly decays into an Electron as well as two different types of Neutrinos; the Tau particle has about eight different decay options (which is an oddity in and of itself), with one universal being given off that you can count on – a Tau Neutrino.