Matter-Antimatter Split Hints at Physics Breakdown

Posted on April 6, 2008  Comments (0)

Matter-Antimatter Split Hints at Physics Breakdown

Nature may have handed scientists a new clue in a longstanding mystery: how matter beat out antimatter for dominance of the universe. Early data from twin experiments at the Tevatron, the world’s reigning particle accelerator at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) in Batavia, Ill., suggest an unexpected chink in the hugely successful standard model of particle physics.

The twist comes from odd behavior in a particle called the BS (pronounced “B-sub-S”), which flips back and forth between its matter and antimatter forms three trillions times per second. Researchers believe that such a breakdown, known as CP violation, is required to explain why matter is so abundant.

Researchers say the finding is well worth following up to make sure it is not a random clump in the data, as frequently happens in particle physics experiments.

Neither result on its own was very convincing, so a team of European researchers combined the data, similar to the way medical researchers cull information from independent clinical trials, to look for rare side effects. Together, the data make it 99.7 percent likely that the discrepancy is real, not due to chance, says physicist Luca Silvestrini… Such analyses require making judgment calls, but Silvestrini says he is confident in the finding.

We posted on this study last month in: Explaining the Missing Antimatter

Related: Most Powerful Anti-matter Beam YetWebcast of Great Physics Lecturesposts on physicsAt the Heart of All Matter

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