Subscriber John wrote: “Since my daughter is a big fan of plush toys and also likes science and math, I’m considering getting her some members of the particle zoo. [These] soft and cuddly sub-atomic particles may help make physics more friendly for the average citizen, so you may want to consider a blog about Ms. Peasley and her Particle Zoo.”
I couldn’t resist checking this one out so I reached out to Ms. Peasley and asked her to tell us more about her Particle Zoo and how and why she came up with this terrific idea. Turns out, we have some things in common. Check it out.
Ms. Peasley writes:
I just love your site and your story!
Like you, I have no formal science training or education. Just a deep desire to find out how and why things work and share it with anyone who’s interested. In my case, it’s particle physics. When I had the idea for the Zoo, I figured
someone had already done it. But a quick Google search gave no results for particle plushies with personalities, so I continued to read many books on the subject written for the layman and the particles were born. The best part is, since no one will ever actually see a proton, electron, or quark, I get full artistic license to make them look any way I want ;o)
For adult learning, the particles can help people understand that the world of everyday matter we see around us is fundamentally made up of only a few particles (up and down quarks, electrons, neutrinos). I find this astounding! People might also learn about the Standard Model and why some particles are “matter” and others “force” (carriers). It might also pique interest in finding out about places like CERN and Fermilab where the experiments are taking place.
It’s been fun designing the particle and I look forward to venturing out into astronomy and astrophysics and bringing those concepts down to a fun level anybody can understand. The cosmic background radiation plush has been a hit, so I can’t wait to design the black hole (a perennial favorite).
(Photo credit: Raven Haven. Check out Raven’s jewelry, “Made With Molecules”.)