General Knowledge Trivia Quiz

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General Knowledge

Hark, hark, the quark

Modern physics theorizes the existence of unimaginably tiny and peculiar particles called quarks as the elementary constituent of matter. Quarks were described and named by Nobel-prize winning physicist Murray Gell-Mann, who took the word “quark” from:

A) A Babylonian word meaning “swarm of flies”
B) A combination of the words “quick” and “dark”
C) A phrase in James Joyce’s novel Finnegan’s Wake
D) Randomly combining letters from the household Scrabble set

Your answer — A) A Babylonian word meaning “swarm of flies” — was incorrect.

Gell-Mann already had a pronunciation in mind — “kwork” — before he settled on a spelling, which was given to him by the phrase, “Three quarks for Muster Mark” in Joyce’s notoriously opaque comic novel, where it is uttered by sea birds. Gell-Mann’s original theory called for three distinct kinds of quark, which made the “three quarks” seem particularly fitting. More kinds of quark were added as the theory evolved, however. Gell-Mann’s pronunciation preference did not stick. Most people rhyme “quark” with “park”, not “pork”.

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