Kwork - Etymology


For some time, Gell-Mann was undecided on an actual spelling for the term he intended to coin, until he found the word quark in James Joyce's book Finnegans Wake:

Three quarks for Muster Mark!

Sure he has not got much of a bark

And sure any he has it's all beside the mark. —James Joyce, Finnegans Wake

Gell-Mann went into further detail regarding the name of the quark in his book, The Quark and the Jaguar:

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.

Zweig preferred the name ace for the particle he had theorized, but Gell-Mann's terminology came to prominence once the quark model had been commonly accepted.

The quark flavors were given their names for a number of reasons. The up and down quarks are named after the up and down components of isospin, which they carry. Strange quarks were given their name because they were discovered to be components of the strange particles discovered in cosmic rays years before the quark model was proposed; these particles were deemed "strange" because they had unusually long lifetimes. Glashow, who coproposed charm quark with Bjorken, is quoted as saying, "We called our construct the 'charmed quark', for we were fascinated and pleased by the symmetry it brought to the subnuclear world." The names "bottom" and "top", coined by Harari, were chosen because they are "logical partners for up and down quarks". In the past, bottom and top quarks were sometimes referred to as "beauty" and "truth" respectively, but these names have somewhat fallen out of use. While "truth" never did catch on, accelerator complexes devoted to massive production of bottom quarks are sometimes called "beauty factories".

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