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SELEX at Fermilab Discovers New Particle 259

Posted by michael
from the ad-infinitum dept.
sellthesedownfalls writes "Scientists at the Department of Energy's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory will announce on Friday, June 18 the observation of an unexpected new member of a family of subatomic particles called 'heavy-light' mesons. The new meson, a combination of a strange quark and a charm antiquark, is the heaviest ever observed in this family, and it behaves in surprising ways -- it apparently breaks the rules on decaying into other particles. See the Fermilab Press Release."
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SELEX at Fermilab Discovers New Particle

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Heavy-Light Mesons!
  • False Alarm (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 18, 2004 @03:06PM (#9466463)
    My bad, I sneezed into the particle accelerator. Sorry guys.
    • Re:False Alarm (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 18, 2004 @03:11PM (#9466528)
      allegedly true story:

      when CERN finished the construction of LEP, back in the day, they had a problem when they turned it on. the beam wouldn't align to collide and they had no idea why.

      upon further inspection, the problem was (allegedly) caused by a bottle of Heineken left behind in one of the beam tubes by a construction worker...
      • Re:False Alarm (Score:5, Informative)

        by worst_name_ever (633374) on Friday June 18, 2004 @04:09PM (#9467213)
        The alleged story is indeed mostly true (reference here [parascope.com]) although apparently it was two Heineken bottles, and the the theory of how they got there is that it was a prank, not an oversight during construction.
        • by Tackhead (54550) on Friday June 18, 2004 @04:34PM (#9467483)
          > The alleged story is indeed mostly true (reference here [parascope.com]) although apparently it was two Heineken bottles, and the the theory of how they got there is that it was a prank, not an oversight during construction.

          The story is in an indeterminate state between truth and falsity, and apparently the number of bottles is in an indeterminate state between 1 and 2, and the theory of how they got there is referred to as the Heineken uncertainty principle.

  • Rules (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 18, 2004 @03:07PM (#9466478)
    Many things will end up breaking the "rules" before it's all over.
    • Rules (Score:3, Insightful)

      by phorm (591458)
      That's because the "rules" are bounded on our existing knowledge. Way back when the rules stated that if you sailed for too long, you'd fall off the edge of the (flat) earth, or that the sun orbited around the earth.

      I'd expect that in the future, what we take for granted as a rule will be stretched, shrunk, or even broken. I'm not sure when it will be "over," but chances are that we'll be over before we learn all we could about the universe (possibly due to misunderstanding how it works).
      • Re:Rules (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Tyler Durden (136036) on Friday June 18, 2004 @06:33PM (#9468661)
        I'm not sure when it will be "over," but chances are that we'll be over before we learn all we could about the universe (possibly due to misunderstanding how it works).

        Or even, maybe it never can be "over". Perhaps there will always be weaknesses in theories to explain weaknesses in older ones, ad infinitum. All theories are simply models to reduce the workings of the universe to a form we can make sense of. There may be no perfect model.

        I forgot who said this, but there's a quote that reads something like, "Not only is the universe stranger than we imagined, but it may be stranger than we can imagine."

        • Re:Rules (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Catharsis (246331)
          Perhaps there will always be weaknesses in theories to explain weaknesses in older ones, ad infinitum.

          Reference: Godel's Incompleteness Theorem.

          And, to quote Doug Adams:
          "There is a theory that states once we figure out exactly why we are here, that the universe will cease to exist and be replaced by something even more complex and confusing.

          There is another theory that states this has already happened."
          -pvh
  • by BrianMarshall (704425) on Friday June 18, 2004 @03:09PM (#9466496) Homepage
    The meson lifetime is 10 (-24) seconds, or about the amount of time it takes light to cross a proton.

    Now, I think this is the lifetime of the usual shorter-lived mesons, but still...

    • http://www.fnal.gov/pub/presspass/press_releases/s elex_photos/index.html
    • This is definitely "order of magnitude" a typical strong decay.

      There are two things which are unusual about this, however:

      1) It's a strong decay, and the particle is more massive than other exotic (with more than just down/up quarks) mesons, but this one lives longer than light mesons in its family. Whether this means it's longer lived than charm-down or charm-up mesons or longer lived than a lighter resonance of charm-strange isn't enunciated here, but either way, that's a surprise. There may be some type of parity conservation at work.

      (NB - strong interactions conserve parity)

      2) It decays into an eta particle much more often (6x more) than decay into a kaon. This is unusual, because more phase space is available for kaons (they have less mass than etas, therefore it's energetically favorable). Again, this could be related to parity issues, like pion decay (prefers muons over less-massive electrons), but that isn't enunciated here either.

      It just goes to show that there's a lot left to investigate just in the basic standard model -- something that a lot of the SUSY/string-loving public forgets quite often. (IAAP, btw)
    • by athakur999 (44340) on Friday June 18, 2004 @04:17PM (#9467317) Journal
      I can tell you from personal experience that crossing a proton is a BAD IDEA. Those bastards have a really short temper. I'd say 10(-24) is a pretty conservative estimate of how long it takes to piss a proton off.

  • Stupid question! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by saderax (718814) on Friday June 18, 2004 @03:10PM (#9466514)
    IANAP(hysicist) ... Do these mesons occur in nature? If not, how can it be claimed a new "discovery." In the same manner, I can glue a poptart to a can of coke and "discover" a new product that has the edible goodness of poptarts and the drinkable properties of coke.
    • Re:Stupid question! (Score:2, Informative)

      by Evl (36661)
      IANAP either, but I think the idea is that these energies were seen when the universe was very young, so yet they are discoveries.
    • by p3tersen (227521) on Friday June 18, 2004 @03:16PM (#9466593)
      Do these mesons occur in nature?

      Doubtful.

      If not, how can it be claimed a new "discovery."

      They "discovered" that nature behaves in a certain way. How is it not a "discovery"? You can't call it an "invention" because it's not like they're designing these particles before creating them.
      • Re:Stupid question! (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Bingo Foo (179380) on Friday June 18, 2004 @04:29PM (#9467431)
        If by "in nature" you mean "in Yosemite and Yellowstone and on Mounts Fuji and Kilimanjaro" then no. But are there violent, high-energy events in astronomical circumstances in which these particles would be briefly found? Yes. By "discovering" the particles in the lab, they mean that they are discovering that nature works in such a way as to allow those particles to exist and have those mass/lifetime properties.

        BTW, even if there were particles which only existed in the high energies of the big bang and for 10^(-20) seconds afterwards, producing them in a hypothetical super-accelerator would still constitute a "discovery" rather than a creation or invention.

    • by benhocking (724439) <benjaminhocking@ ... om minus painter> on Friday June 18, 2004 @03:17PM (#9466598) Homepage Journal

      Actually, they do occur in nature. Specifically, they occur when a sufficiently energetic cosmic ray strikes our atmosphere.

      This is the same reason that many physicists laugh off the idea that they're going to create a mini-black hole that would sink to the earth's core and destroy us all. The universe is constantly running even higher-energy experiments in our atmosphere all the time - we just haven't placed our detectors in the right place! (To be fair to our hard-working particle physicists, you would need a VERY large detector hovering high in the air if you wanted to catch these things in nature.)

      • by Noren (605012) on Friday June 18, 2004 @04:26PM (#9467399)
        Cosmic rays from space can indeed be much more powerful than those created in particle accelerators- the seminal example is one of the few cosmic rays which has a name- the "Oh-My-God" particle [fourmilab.ch] (So named because of the exclamation the physicist was said to have made when he saw the data.) This cosmic ray had roughly 300 million times the energy of the protons Fermilab is able to produce, and was travelling at about v = 0.9999999999999999999999951 c.

        The really interesting part is that we don't really know what process would produce such a thing. Since then, several other cosmic rays [sciencemag.org](subscription required) entering the atmosphere with energies over 10^20 eV have been detected by Japanese, Russian, and American observers.

        • by barawn (25691) on Friday June 18, 2004 @07:14PM (#9468983) Homepage
          The really interesting part is that we don't really know what process would produce such a thing.

          Actually, it's worse than that. Not only do we not know what process would produce such a thing, we don't know how it would've gotten here in the first place. Above 6 x 10^19 eV, particles should interact with the microwave background, and lose energy (the "GZK cutoff"). In essence, there's a cosmic speed limit. The only way that particle could've gotten here is if it came from very close (so it didn't have time to slow down yet) - very close. Which makes the problem of "how the heck was this made?" even worse.
          • I wouldn't think there would be an absolute cutoff there, but a (granted very steep) curve; which means that some very tiny fraction of particles *could* make it here with those energies (and who's to say what original energy level that particle started off with?)

            But either way you look at it, whatever produced that particle was one hellishly energetic event! (I'm not good enough to do the math, but what are the odds that the particle in question could have resulted from the Big Bang energies once proto
            • by barawn (25691) on Friday June 18, 2004 @11:12PM (#9470502) Homepage
              I wouldn't think there would be an absolute cutoff there, but a (granted very steep) curve; which means that some very tiny fraction of particles *could* make it here with those energies (and who's to say what original energy level that particle started off with?)

              No, of course it's not an absolute cutoff - however, the slope is somewhere in the neighborhood of E^-10 or so, which may as well be an absolute cutoff. No matter how hard you try, you basically can't get much above 6 x 10^19 for more than about 50 megaparsecs. If the GZK cutoff really does exist (which... well, it better, it's very basic physics) then in the absence of sources we don't understand (which is what we think we have), we never should've seen these particles. The "normal" processes which generate particles less than 6E-19, convolved with the GZK effect, would've produced a flux so freaking low we never would've seen it.

              what are the odds that the particle in question could have resulted from the Big Bang energies once protons and neutrons started to form from the 'soup'? I realize it would have been traveling for quite a while and the odds would be infinitely small, but still, the mw background is just an average temperature, is it not?)

              Actually stuff that's formed from recombination era would be microwave background energies - because, well, that's what the microwave background is. :)

              But anyway, it's not just that we saw one particle, because the thing is, the detectors didn't run for that long, and they weren't that large (i.e. their acceptance was quite low). They would've had to have gotten astro-freaking-phenomenally lucky in order to see one that far away from the expected. It gets even worse when you have other detectors come online that also see those energy events.

              It's not the individual particles that interest us. It's the fact that there seems to be a real spectrum out there - there's something actually producing these energies, and either A) it's close, or B) we don't understand interactions at high energies, or C) all of the cosmic ray physics people are smoking something. Considering B) basically implies that one of the fundamental tenets of relativity is wrong - which would be bad , I'd like for it to be A, but I've got a feeling it'll turn out to be C. :)
      • To be fair to our hard-working particle physicists, you would need a VERY large detector hovering high in the air if you wanted to catch these things in nature.

        Or on the ground.

        Say, about 3000 square kilometers [auger.org.ar] or so oughtta do it.

        (and for a mite bit cheaper than a particle accelerator, too :) )
    • by Anomalous Canard (137695) on Friday June 18, 2004 @03:22PM (#9466658)
      ...it's a new discovery!

      We certainly expected that there would be a strange-anticharm meson, but until it was observed, there was no way to tell it's mass (except in a very broad range of likely masses for members of the heavy-light mesons) and it's lifetime. Quantum chromodynamics, while in many respects a remarkably precise theory, still has to have the masses of the particles put into the equations. In a real Theory of Everything, we'd be able to calculate the mass of such a meson before we'd seen it.

      These particles certainly exist in nature, but because their lifetime is so short, you'd have to be right where they were created to be able to see them before they decayed. Since our detector-on-the-surface-of-a-neutron-star project (affectionately called the DOTSOAN project) has had its funding denied again, the only place we can be observing right where they were created is right here on Earth in the accellerators.
      • Actually, strange-anticharm mesons have been observed and extensively studied for years. I'm too young to know just when the first Ds was discovered, but my guess is in the early 80's. I know these were being carefully studies by the late 80's.

        But SELEX's particle is a new excitation of this bound state that hasn't been seen before.

        Their preprint (which may change before being accepted for publication) is at:
        http://xxx.lanl.gov/abs/hep-ex/0406045

        Looking at the paper, it appears to be a good result, but
    • Unfortunately, your new poptart-coke creation, while tasty, isn't quite the same.

      The SELEX experiment (which, incidentally ended in 1997 and this discovery resulted from a reanalysis of data) measures the results of protons colliding with solid targets of copper and diamond.

      Of course, we all know what protons and other subatomic particles are(and they we are made up of them). But, we don't know what they are made up of. Enter the quarks, mesons, and gluons.

      So, essentially they *do* exist in nature, but n
    • I have mod points, but im going to set them aside to say this: They DO occur in nature, as seen in this very experiment. If they didnt exist, or they were forbidden from existing, then we would never see them in any experiments we conduct. Just because we are causing them to appear by doing various things doesnt mean that the products of such an experiment is outside the scope of nature, and by saying "They dont occur in nature" simply ignores the fact that we are part of nature. If nature didnt want so
      • "If nature didnt want something to happen or occur, we would know about it."

        Actually we'd never know about it, if we knew about it, then it would automatically be natural.
    • Dammit, you are my hero.
      That was great, but I might have ruined a keyboard...
    • by Cecil (37810) on Friday June 18, 2004 @04:33PM (#9467475) Homepage
      By your definition, I'm not sure that anything at all can be called a discovery. That would make it a pretty meaningless and useless word, wouldn't it?

      If no one has ever seen a meson like this before then -- regardless of whether they've been flying around the universe for billions of years -- I consider it a discovery, because we (humanity) have never noticed it before now. It's new. It's a discovery.
    • Of course they occur in nature. After all, the particle accelerator is part of the universe, right?

      Think about high energy collisions around black holes or even in our upper atmosphere (high energy cosmic rays). Collisions at Fermilabs or CERN compare to some of these as campfire does to antimatter-matter explossion.

  • by burgburgburg (574866) <splisken06NO@SPAMemail.com> on Friday June 18, 2004 @03:12PM (#9466536)
    Now I want to sleep with it.

    I feel so dirty.

  • A good quote (Score:5, Interesting)

    by heyitsme (472683) on Friday June 18, 2004 @03:12PM (#9466541) Homepage
    I was just reading my copy of Fermilab Today (I am writing this from the lab) and saw this article. Then it appears on slashdot!

    The best description of this phenomenon comes from James Ross in the official press release [fnal.gov]:

    • "It's like watching a water bucket with a large hole and small hole in the bottom," Russ said. "For some reason, the water is pouring out the small hole six times faster than it's coming out of the large one. Something unusual must be going on inside the bucket."
    • My first suspect would be outside interferance. Isn't that what Heisenberg is all about?
      • Heisenberg's theory is less related than you think. Basically, Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle says that you cannot simultaneously know both the position and the momentum of a given object to arbitrary(infinite) precision.

        From what (little) I understand of this new discovery, it seems to have more to do with quark interaction and symmetry than precise measurements of position and momentum.
        • Oh- I thought there was a more general interpretation of Heisenberg available as well- something to the effect that the observer will always affect the experiment at least minimally (in the specific case, the very act of measuring the position throws the momentum meansurment out, and vice versa)? IANAP, though, and much of what I hear from the quantum world sounds like applied technology mimicing magic to begin with.
          • Re:A good quote (Score:2, Informative)

            by kfg (145172)
            Oh- I thought there was a more general interpretation of Heisenberg available as well

            You are falling into the trap of mistaking an interpretation of the theory, i.e. what people say about that theory ( such people often being clueless in the first place) for what the theory actually "says".

            Much like people often claim that The Theory of Relativity "says" that everything is relative, which is completely wrong. The Theory of Relativity "says" that the speed of light is absolute.

            KFG
          • Shcrodinger's Paradox, iirc. is what you're referring to.
            • No Shcrodingers Paradox is about the dificulties in transitioning from micro systems to macrosystems and about how quantum physics fails to completely define the rules. The thing about an observation causing a change in the system is used in setting up the paradox, but it's not the focus of that particular thought experiment.
  • Heretics (Score:5, Funny)

    by BearJ (783382) on Friday June 18, 2004 @03:14PM (#9466562)
    I for one am sick of all these subatomic particles breaking the rules. Surely there must be some sort of law to stop these "dirty hippie" (if you will). They're unconstitutional, and against the american way!

    • Re:Heretics (Score:2, Funny)

      by Chillum (704871)
      This reminds me of the answer I gave to a question I once had on a chemistry exam:

      Q: Name two properties of a free radical

      1. Long hair
      2. "Save the Whale" badge
  • In other news... (Score:2, Redundant)

    by path_man (610677)

    ...researchers at the famed Max Planck institute in Germany have found other seemingly contradictory particles such as:

    the Government Assistance particle

    the Military Intelligence particle

    the Express Mail particle

    and the ever-elusive Flat Breasted particle

    The chief scientist of the oxymoron division was quoted as saying, "These particles make about as much sense as screen doors in submarines."

    • by DJ Rubbie (621940) on Friday June 18, 2004 @03:38PM (#9466820) Homepage Journal
      The fire at Los Alamos has had one significant consequence. A secret scientific document was discovered in a bunker whose security systems were mostly destroyed by the fire. This document was leaked to the public last weekend.

      Actually it reveals nothing that we didn't already suspect. But it does show that besides arsenic, lead, mercury, radon, strontium and plutonium, one more extremely deadly and pervasive element is known to exist.

      This startling new discovery has been tentatively named Governmentium (Gv) but kept top secret for 50 years. The new element has no protons or electrons, thus having an atomic number of 0. It does, however, have 1 neutron, 125 deputy neutrons, 75 supervisory neutrons, and 111 team leader neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312.

      These 312 particles are held together by a force called morons, that are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons. Since it has no electrons, Governmentium is inert. However, it can be detected as it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact.

      According to the discoverers, a minute amount of Governmentium causes one reaction to take over four days to complete when it would normally take less than a second. Governmentium has a normal half-life of approximately three years. It does not decay but instead undergoes a reorganization in which a portion of the deputy neutrons, supervisory neutrons, and team leader neutrons exchange places. In fact, Governmentium mass will actually increase over time, since, with each reorganization, some of the morons inevitably become neutrons, forming new isodopes.

      This characteristic of moron promotion leads some scientists to speculate that Governmentium is formed whenever morons reach a certain quantity in concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as the "Critical Morass."

      http://www.appleseeds.org/governmentium.htm
  • by swagr (244747) on Friday June 18, 2004 @03:19PM (#9466621) Homepage
    ...it apparently breaks the rules...

    Because it couldn't be that we've made a mistake. It was the naughty meson's fault.
  • Farnsworth: It's a single atom of jumbonium. And element so rare, the nucleus alone is worth more than $50,000.

    Bender: How much more?

    Farnsworth: $100,000.

  • by GillBates0 (664202) on Friday June 18, 2004 @03:24PM (#9466678) Homepage Journal
    I don't know what to think of the DsJ+(2632)->Ds(eta)+ and D0K+" meson, but I can tell you these guys have a pretty good thing going for them at their cafetaria [fnal.gov].

    Look at what they had for lunch on 06/17:
    Aztec Tortilla Soup
    Hot Italian Sub $4.75
    Chicken Picata $3.75
    Thai Beef $3.75
    Roast Beef Cheddar on Kaiser Roll $4.75
    Beef Strombolis $2.85
    Marinated or Cajun Chicken Caesar Salads $4.75

    It's a wonder they got any work done that day...

  • by G4from128k (686170) on Friday June 18, 2004 @03:26PM (#9466693)
    If the data and rules disagree (and the data is valid) then "the rules" were never ever really correct. This is the most interesting and cognitively confounding element of science. So many experiments cause the perceived "rules" to change when in fact the true rules of the universe never change, only our approximations and estimations of them. This is why I wonder if so much of science is really just curve-fitting (F = m*a + delta, where delta contains relativistic effects, quantum effects, etc.) Similarly, I wonder if E = mc^2 + delta, where delta includes effects unseen because we haven't tested the formula over the entire span of possible conditions (energies, distances, mass concentrations, etc.)

    As an aside, a friend in college was religious because of this very issue. He hated the fact that science couldn't "make up its mind" abut what was true or not -- for him, an erroneous certainty was more comfortable than a changing, but progressively more correct uncertainty.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Science really is just curve fitting. That is why the undergrads at Caltech use a program called "CurveFit". http://www.ligo.caltech.edu/~vsanni/ph3/ [caltech.edu] (CurveFit is near the bottom of the page.) Science doesn't require absolute truth, only successive approximations basedon empirical knowledge (or 'experience' in plain English). The idea that you can know absolute truth - and the need to prove yourself right when you don't know what you are talking about - are carry-overs from classical philosophers, su
    • by erice (13380) on Friday June 18, 2004 @04:09PM (#9467220) Homepage
      There have been times where the best fitting equations were just like you say. They had parts that didn't correspond to any real understanding. They just made the equation work. Those are emperical results.

      Much science is about taking those emperical results and coming up with theory that explains what they mean.
    • It gets stranger. It may be that the "constants" and rules we observe in the universe have not always been so, and might not be so in the future. Godel's incompleteness theorem also gives us an inkling that there may indeed be truths that are unprovable.

      Note however, I am completely NOT religous, and despite their only shortcoming, I think science and reason are the only feasible tools we can use to understand the universe. Or said in another way, for things which are knowable and understandable, science
    • We don't need rules, we have faith!
    • So many experiments cause the perceived "rules" to change when in fact the true rules of the universe never change, only our approximations and estimations of them.

      1. Try defining "true rules of the universe" without using tautologies.
      2. Understand that there are no "true rules" when using the scientific method.
      3. Learn to separate science from philosophy.
  • by jwkane (180726) on Friday June 18, 2004 @03:26PM (#9466697) Homepage
    Obviously any experiment that yields unexpected and reproducable results is great news for quantum theorists.

    I'm wondering if the theoretical predictions presented in the article tip the scales toward or away from any of the various theories of quantum structure. In particular:

    "SELEX also saw the new meson decay about six times more often than expected into an eta particle (a rarer but well-studied member of the meson family), rather than into the expected particle, called a K meson."

    It seems obvious that this experiment highlights a failure in our understanding of the strong force.
    • I'm wondering if the theoretical predictions presented in the article tip the scales toward or away from any of the various theories of quantum structure.

      For any quantum theory [QT] there exist a range of possible values for the arbitrary constants in the theory that will account for all observed data.

      Should there fail to be a range of possible values that are consistent with reality, then there is almost certainly some form of "renormalization" which will accomodate the observations.

      Should there fail

  • by 14erCleaner (745600) <FourteenerCleaner@yahoo.com> on Friday June 18, 2004 @03:28PM (#9466719) Homepage Journal
    It really is turtles all the way down.
  • Scientists have finally discovered the black sheep in the nuclear family... ...sorry
  • by Anonymous Coward
    "The distribution of the D0 K+ combined mass for all candidates in the data sample including Anti-particle combinations (D0bar K-). There are two clear peaks. The lower, at a mass of 2570 MeV/c2, is the known DsJ(2573) meson, discovered in 1994. This peak's width is more than the detector resolution showing the the "natural width (Gamma)" of this state due to its short lifetime. The value measured for the natural width of 14 MeV/c2 is consistent with previous measurements. The detector resolution is better
  • by GPLDAN (732269) on Friday June 18, 2004 @03:38PM (#9466815)
    "Cap'n - I think if we reverse the heavy light mesons, we can interuupt the Klingon's charmed anti-quark field just long enuf to escape!"

    Shatner: "Scotty, you only have 60 seconds, hurry!"


    And, BTW, congrats to the Fermi team. I have plenty of friends employed there, I always like to see new discoveries. Good job, guys.
  • by Theovon (109752) on Friday June 18, 2004 @03:39PM (#9466829)
    ... quantum physics would start to get pretty boring after a while.

    It's always fun to find a fault in the theory and then find a way to fix the theory, especially when that fix is elegant and makes all sorts of really cool predictions that you could not have made before.
  • by Garin (26873) on Friday June 18, 2004 @03:39PM (#9466833)
    Those fine folks who subscribe to my arXiv.org RSS feeds probably have already read the full paper:

    http://arxiv.org/abs/hep-ex/0406045

    My RSS feeds can be found at:

    http://www.ucalgary.ca/~cmhogan/arXivRDF/
  • "It's like watching a water bucket with a large hole and small hole in the bottom," Russ said. "For some reason, the water is pouring out the small hole six times faster than it's coming out of the large one. Something unusual must be going on inside the bucket."

    This first observation of the new meson expands the picture of the ways in which the strong force works within the atomic nucleus... A meson is made up of a quark and an antiquark, bound together by the strong force."


    So they admit that the force
  • Originally the quark names were up, down, strange charm, truth and beauty. Then they changed truth and beauty to top and bottom. This is confusing. Why is up and top both used? Is top more up than up, ie. the most up?

    Part of the fun of physics is the cool names. Top and bottom are boring. Perhaps they're exciting to certain persons of a particular sort of alternative lifestyle, and more power to 'em, but physics should be flashy and cool, with its WINOs and WIMPs, not boring with top and bottom.
  • ... Wellcome our new subatomic, particle supercharged, dually quarked master
  • by ScooterBill (599835) * on Friday June 18, 2004 @04:01PM (#9467097)
    "It's like watching a water bucket with a large hole and small hole in the bottom," Russ said. "For some reason, the water is pouring out the small hole six times faster than it's coming out of the large one. Something unusual must be going on inside the bucket."

    Doesn't this attempted decryption of the universe break a provision in the DMCA? If that's not applicable, then I'm sure Microsoft will be getting a patent on it any day now.
  • by DrCode (95839) on Friday June 18, 2004 @04:51PM (#9467676)
    >Look
    You see a meson.
    >Examine meson.
    It's too small for you to see.
    >Examine meson with microscope.
    The meson appears to be composed of too smaller particles, a quark and an antiquark.
    >Examine quark.
    The quark is strange.
    >Examine antiquark.
    The pleasant blue glow leads you to conclude that this is a charmed antiquark.
    >Rub antiquark.
    Your fingers are too big and clumsy.
    >Rub antiquark with cue-tip.
    You suddenly feel lucky.
    Two elf-nymphs enter the room. They look at you expectedly...
  • Affinity (Score:3, Funny)

    by lildogie (54998) on Friday June 18, 2004 @05:06PM (#9467853)
    I, myself, am charmed by strangeness.
  • by lildogie (54998) on Friday June 18, 2004 @05:09PM (#9467878)
    > While the SELEX experiment stopped taking data in 1997,
    > an extended analysis revealed this new particle lurking
    > within their data.

    Nice to see the costly technology paying off long after the experiment is over.

    Pure science is worth the money.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 18, 2004 @05:10PM (#9467891)
    As a taxpayer, I like to know that research will have practical benefits.

    So, if the Fermilab folks could tell us whether this will lead to any or all of the following useful devices, I would greatly appreciate it:

    1) Warp Drive
    2) A way to make all the stars in the galaxy go supernova at once
    3) Bring back all the socks that vanish in the dryer
    4) Mr. Fusion
    5) Flying Cars

  • "Contradiction" (Score:3, Interesting)

    by e.m.rainey (91553) <erik@rain e y . name> on Friday June 18, 2004 @06:03PM (#9468394) Homepage
    I dislike their frequent use of the word. It seems to imply that this field is somehow solid in it's knowledge of how these particles work, when in reality it's really alot of clever guesswork. It would seem to me that what they mean by contradiction is merely a seeming contradiction because our assumptions, obviously, have come into question. I know it'd be a pain to be so annoying accurate all the time but could quantum science, in general, please qualify this more often?

    Be a little less quick to assume you're unraveling reason itself and start recognizing that if you have a contradiction, then it's because some premise of yours is wrong.
  • Prediction (Score:3, Interesting)

    by localman (111171) on Saturday June 19, 2004 @12:43AM (#9470880) Homepage
    The complexity of all these different particles will collapse into something much simpler when we look at it all from a different angle. Since I can't think of any other way to discover this "different angle", I am in favor of the physicists continuing with the current research methods -- finding more and more new and bizarre particles until it becomes obvious what we're actually looking at.

    String theory, where all particles are just different vibration frequencies of otherwise identical loops of "string", is rather appealing. But it seems we can't quite wrap our math around it yet.

    Of course the universe is under no obligation to be simple or elegant, but it just often seems to be the way -- a random complex thing becomes simple and obvious when viewed in the appropriate context.

    Cheers.

The key elements in human thinking are not numbers but labels of fuzzy sets. -- L. Zadeh

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