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Physicists Postulate Existance of New Particle 139

Posted by michael
from the acceleron-sounds-like-a-new-intel-cpu dept.
corngrower writes "University of Washington physicists postulate the existence of a new particle called the acceleron which links dark energy with the neutrino. The theory offers an explanation for the recent discovery of the accelerating expansion of the universe."
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Physicists Postulate Existance of New Particle

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  • by NanoGator (522640) on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @02:03AM (#9819441) Homepage Journal
    "University of Washington physicists postulate the existence of a new particle called the acceleron which links dark energy with the neutrino."

    Acceleron... Neutrino... and it represents a particle whose value cannot be scientifically measured today. How about Itanion?
  • by shaitand (626655) on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @02:17AM (#9819502) Journal
    I for one welcome our new dark energy overlords!
  • So... (Score:2, Funny)

    by shfted! (600189)
    Acceleron is to neutrino, as Celeron is to Centrino. Suddlenly, accelerons sound like old news.
  • by HotNeedleOfInquiry (598897) on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @02:22AM (#9819520)
    There's a zillion of them, of which only about 4 are of any use to most of us...
  • by Cecil (37810) on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @02:24AM (#9819524) Homepage
    I've got acceleron in my computer.

    Woohoo, that was the worst pun ever! Someone shoot me.
  • What? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dausha (546002) on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @02:46AM (#9819589) Homepage
    Is it just me, or are scientists trying to make science fit the theory? I mean, once upon a time people thought the Sun revolved around the Earth (now we all know the Universe revolves around me), and kept coming up with more and more complicated explanations regarding why the other planets retrograded. Finally, somebody had the balls to say that the Earth revolves around the Sun (but, based on my parenthetical statement above, he was still wrong).

    Now, as I understand it, we have an assumption of science that requires that we account for mass that is not present. Voila! Dark Matter (or Energy, or whatever). However, since we cannot detect this new thing, we have to find a way to make that fit the mould. It seems to me that we are winding on-and-on down the rabbit hole. How long before there is a realization that this is just modern (or is it post-modern) retrograde theory?

    Why does reality have to yield to theory? Can't it be the other way around? Do I have the karma to withstand a mod down?
    • When? (Score:2, Interesting)

      As soon as the next Copernicus, Newton, Einstein, Planck or Hawking comes along. Considering the exponential population growth lately, and assuming a fixed ratio of paradigm-defining supergeniuses to the general population, we're probably overdue.
      • Re:When? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by selderrr (523988) on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @05:13AM (#9819937) Journal
        yes, i find it fascinating indeed that a paradigm genius hasn't show up in the past 30 years. Or at least not on a scientific level with global implications... Has our science grown so specialised indeed ? Copernicus, Newton and to a certain degree also einstein & planck were universal scientists. Modern day scientists work themselves deeper & deeper in smaller and smaller subfields of an allready tiny science topic... Could it be that we are killing global paradigms ?
        • Re:When? (Score:4, Informative)

          by Oddly_Drac (625066) on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @06:17AM (#9820092)
          "Could it be that we are killing global paradigms ?"

          Nope, it's just that paradigm shifts seem a lot more obvious in retrospect once development has followed a decent amount of testing. It could be argued that we're currently in the grip of a paradigm shift that's affecting society as a whole, given that global, affordable communications have really started to take off in the past 20 years.

          On the other hand, there isn't a lot of 'pure' research being undertaken, which means that you're limited to the postgrad, postdoctoral academic work these days.

        • Re:When? (Score:3, Insightful)

          I think part of the problem is that there is just so much to learn before you can make meaningful new contributions in just about any field that becoming a "universal scientist" these days would require more time than most people get. It generally takes a minimum of ten years of university experience -- four years undergrad, four to five years grad, one or two years postdoc -- to start a scientific career in any one, specialized field. People can, and sometimes do, get two PhD's in different fields (usual
        • Relativity and Quantum Mechanics describe much of the universe very well.

          It's unlikely they'll be proven wrong, even if lower-level details are revealed. There were experimental problems with classical models of gravity and atomic structure which were solved by these new equations - you wouldn't have today's level of technology (e.g. microchips) without them.

          As a science progresses the big picture gets 'done' and you have to work on the details. That doesn't mean it's less important, and often it's hard
      • Re:When? (Score:3, Funny)

        by jamesh (87723)
        It has been proposed that the sum of the intelligence of mankind is a constant. Lets just hope this isn't true, 'cos the population is increasing rapidly.
        • Sadly, in my experience, I have no evidence to refute that theory. The more people I meet, the dumber they all seem to be. :)
    • Re:What? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by black mariah (654971) on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @04:11AM (#9819792)
      Is it just me, or are scientists trying to make science fit the theory?
      It's just you. Scientists come up with a theory, then try to find out whether it is true or not. What you're describing is best referred to as pseudoscience, willfully bending facts and evidence to support one's own version of the truth. This is not real science. This is not trying to come up with an explanation to a problem. This is the equivalent of a conspiracy theorist being presented with papers that refute one of his theories, then writing those papers off as PART OF the conspiracy. It's idiocy at its finest.
      • Re:What? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by nine-times (778537)
        GP: Is it just me, or are scientists trying to make science fit the theory?

        P: It's just you. Scientists come up with a theory, then try to find out whether it is true or not. What you're describing is best referred to as pseudoscience...

        Well, then Mr. Smarty-Pants, I guess the question then is whether most people who describe themselves as "scientists" are, in fact, scientists, or are they "pseudoscientists"?

        I mean, it seems like that's the question the OP was asking. Are these "scientists" making a th

        • Re:What? (Score:4, Informative)

          by Ayaress (662020) on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @05:49PM (#9825798) Journal
          Much as I have a rule againt replying to posts that resort to insults, I always end up doing it.

          Your problem comes from the fact that you, like so many other people, insist on a ass-backwards concept of how science works.

          These scientists are not creating a theory. You don't have a theory unless you have observation to base it on.

          They're making a hypothesis, which is just that - a hypothesis. They throw out a few ideas that give them some inkling of what to look for. It doesn't tell us anything, but it grows out of things we already know.

          Then, they go to the observation, and try and see what there actually is. You don't need a hypothesis to do observation, but with extremely complex stuff like this, it's a good idea to know what you're looking for first, or you'll be hit with information overload. They've already got a few thousand particles on the books, so if they don't have an idea of a new one they're looking for, they'll never find it underneath all the protons and electrons and pions and morons. If the observations fit the hypothesis, they start throwing it all into equations.

          When they derive equations that hold true, it becomes a law. Law still doesn't really tell you very much. So e=mc^2. It doesn't tell you anything useful about mass or energy.

          Theory is the highest level of scientific understanding, and is not just far above theory, but it's actually higher on the scale than law (which is why the "If it was true, it wouldn't be a theory anymore, it would be a law" is wrong. You go from hypothesis to observation to law and lastly to theory).

          It comes after you've made your hypotheses, observed confimation, and derived laws from the observation. Theory tells you WHY your hypothesis worked (or didn't, as they case may be), and why the laws do what they do. All the fancy things you can read out of e=mc^2 (like mass being variable, energy and matter being interchangeable, and so on) are Theory. Theory outranks law.

          All we have here is hypothesis, nothing more. You're trying to equate hypothesis with theory, but they're completely different things, separated by two levels of understanding.
          • Much as I have a rule againt replying to posts that resort to insults, I always end up doing it.

            Oh, come on. That was supposed to be funny. I mean, not really funny. I didn't expect my post to get modded up "Funny". But certainly not serious. I mean, who gets insulted by being called "Mr. Smarty Pants"?

            Anyway, all this hypothesis, law, theory talk... it's all semantics. The problem here is not that some guy came up with some hypothesis and we're claiming, "this stinks because it isn't proven yet".

            • Re:What? (Score:5, Interesting)

              by ekuns (695444) * on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @11:20PM (#9828003) Journal

              Are scientists being close minded and protective of their current understanding, and plowing ahead on a path that they should, within reason, be able to predict is heading the wrong way?

              I'm a particle physicist by training (although not by career). The answer to this question, IMHO, is "No." Most particle physicists I know -- of many dozens -- would prefer to find something that the current standard models clearly cannot explain. The problem is that with only a few tweaks, so far, the current standard model is been able to predict just about every measurement thrown its way, and with a dismaying degree of accuracy.

              See, here's the problem. The standard model of particle physics accurately predicts all measurements made thus far to as much accuracy as people have been able to bring the calculations. Many consider the standard model to be quite ugly because it has so many "arbitrary" parameters with no underlying theory of where those values come from: It has about 20-ish measured values that go into it. Many of those arbitrary values are the measured masses of particles, and the measured interaction strength of the three forces (not including gravity).

              All of the physicists I know and most of the physicists I've ever met in the particle physics field are quite willing to be pursuaded by a new theory, but no such theory has presented itself. Some have thought that string theory will be that paradigm shift, but so far there is not enough evidence to prove or disprove.

              When a convincing quantum theory of gravity appears, that will probably fix many of the complaints people have about the standard model.

              So the issue at hand here is some scientists who are making a hypothesis within the current framework, extending the current framework, to explain some seemingly unrelated measurements. This is not epicycles on top of epicycles, although it might appear as such.

              From reading the article, it appears that this hypothesis is disprovable, and thus a strong scientific hypothesis. It will be interesting to see how this theory holds up against evidence.

              • I'm a particle physicist by training (although not by career). The answer to this question, IMHO, is "No." Most particle physicists I know -- of many dozens -- would prefer to find something that the current standard models clearly cannot explain.

                I guess you wouldn't believe me if I told you I knew more than might be immediately obvious. I've known many of what I'd like to call "science believers". Sounds silly right? Point is, for some out there, science isn't an open discussion, its a religion. These

                • Re:What? (Score:4, Interesting)

                  by ekuns (695444) * on Thursday July 29, 2004 @01:41AM (#9828654) Journal

                  I guess you wouldn't believe me if I told you I knew more than might be immediately obvious

                  I hadn't yet made any assumptions about what you do or do not know. I aim to make as few assumptions as I can, because assumptions are so frequently incorrect.

                  And yes, many of these people I have in mind are even "scientists" by trade.

                  I'm open to believing this. I have definitely encountered some "true believers" in physics and in other sciences. Most of the people I know and knew did not fall into that camp, but there's a selection there because I tend to find "true believers" annoying. Because by definition they are not open to evidence.

                  I have changed my mind on major scientific issues several times during my life. I expect I will do so on major theories at least a few more times. I certainly hope so! The alterntative is boring! Personally, I hope that they do NOT find the Higgs Boson. It will be much more interesting if they do not find it, because it is getting more difficult with time to construct a theory that can explain why we haven't found it. If the Higgs Boson is not found in the next decade, that will have serious consequences for many current theories.

                  Along with that, I will say that very few of non-believers I know would say that quantum machanics "makes sense".

                  I understand what you are saying. But quantum physics really does make sense. It's just not intuitive, because our experience with the macroscopic world does not correlate well with the behavior of very small things. You're right in that I give huge value to a theory that predicts accurately, and that I value more highly a theory with predictive power than a theory with less predictive power that is more understandable.

                  To a point. Adding epicycles upon epicycles blindly can become an obsessive exercise in not looking elsewhere. The good news is that lots of physicists are looking strenuously for alternative theories. Practically all of these theories get disproven within a few years, but eventually, someone will find a cleaner more beautiful theory than the current standard model -- I hope! -- that has the same or better predictive power as the current model.

                  The big philosophical question once the math works is -- what does the math mean? Many physicists happily totally ignore that question and just rely on the predictive power. Some other people get the accuracy of prediction confused with the concept of whether the theory or model is "true." Hey, it's just a model! No-one I know thinks that the current theory is the end of the road. What does the math mean? That is an excellent question. I am hoping for a new theory that explains at least some of the following questions:

                  Why three dimensions of space, and not two or four? (I'm ignoring any "curled up" dimensions which we cannot participate in.) Why do the particles we know of have the masses they have? Are space and time continuous, or discrete? What causes mass to exist? Why three "generations" of quarks and leptons, and not two or four? Is there a reason that the (observable) universe has the amount of energy that it does, and not less or more?

                  • To a point. Adding epicycles upon epicycles blindly can become an obsessive exercise in not looking elsewhere.

                    I'm finding I agree with you quite a bit. Perhaps thee difference in opinion is, I already feel like we've started adding epicycles to epicycles, and maybe you feel like you are still within reason?

                    By the way, I have mixed feelings on the epicycles reference. The shift to a heliocentric model is, in many ways, a terrific example, but one of the things I liked about Ptolemy is that, well, at leas

                    • by Salis (52373)
                      Even Einstein did not operate in a vaccuum.

                      The math behind Einstein's relativity is closely related to the work of Maxwell, Gibbs, and Dirac (among others).
                      What do you think Eistein read while he was working in the Swiss patent office? Papers on what he was interested in!

                      Most people think Einstein pulled the idea out of the air, but that's only because most people do not understand relativity or the math behind it.
                      I don't want to sound inconsiderate towards Einstein, because his theory was a major paradig
                    • You'll like this quote from physicist Michael Turner, from the current issue of Discover Magazine (Sep 2004 for anyone reading in the future!). The quote is on the middle of page 74.

                      "I coined the tern "dark energy" for the whatever-it-is that is causing the universe to speed up. The possibilities being discussed for dark energy range from quantum vacuum energy to the influence of the unseen extra dimensions predicted by string theory. Perhaps the most radical idea, and the one I am pursuing now, is tha

                    • I just wanted to remind you that science almost never materializes out of thin air and, even for the most 'unique' theories, it always originates from previous work of some type.

                      No, of course not "out of thin air". But here's what's at issue: A lot of people, at the same time, had all the access to the same data that Einstein had, the same mathematical equations, and the same theory. It took Einstein to interpret it. What ultimately makes up the "discovery" of "special relativity" is Einstein's reinter

                    • Sorry, I thought you replied to a different one of my posts on this subject, so some of this doesn't apply.

                      I just don't think people saw relativity coming. Who, before Einstein, had in mind a 4 dimensional space-time model with both space and time being relative? A lot of the math was there to support it once someone had the idea, there were a lot of ideas for Einstein to feed off of, but someone still needed to have the idea.

                    • Actually, an important part of Einstein's special relativity was known before him.

                      Many important parts were known before him.

                      Special relativity was, one could say, waiting to be formulated.

                      Sure... I guess. But what does that mean?

                      It could have been Maxwell, had he lived longer, not Einstein.

                      Well, maybe. I mean, Maxwell was a pretty smart guy, I'll give you that, if that's what you mean. It could have also been Leibnitz or Newton, or Gallileo or Aristotle, or, god, I don't know who could have come

                    • by Salis (52373)
                      True in most respects, but the relationship between an electric field and a magnetic field is mathematically similar to the idea of space and time being relative. It's a mathematical shift.

                      I should warn that I'm not a physicist (I've just taken quite a few physics classes) and so don't ask me what exactly the shift is, but I remember having known it at one point. ;)

                    • True in most respects, but the relationship between an electric field and a magnetic field is mathematically similar to the idea of space and time being relative. It's a mathematical shift.

                      True, you can draw similarities. However, people were looking for electricity and magnetism to be connected, since they both fell into the category of "forces we don't understand". It didn't take scientist long to figure out that they were connected somehow, and they both had similar attractive/repelling forces, so vari

    • Re:What? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Alsee (515537) on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @05:08AM (#9819929) Homepage
      as I understand it, we have an assumption of science that requires that we account for mass that is not present. Voila! Dark Matter

      You have it backwards. They are trying to account for matter that apparently *is* present, we just can't see it and don't know what it is.

      There is lots of evidence that there is *something* there, we can see its gravitational effects on the stuff we can see. Gravitational lensing and orbital speeds. And there's plenty of other evidence I don't know offhand.

      If you can somehow explain all of the evidence without "dark matter", well you'll be almost as famous as Einstein.

      -
      • Re:What? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by nine-times (778537)
        You have it backwards. They are trying to account for matter that apparently *is* present, we just can't see it and don't know what it is. There is lots of evidence that there is *something* there, we can see its gravitational effects on the stuff we can see. Gravitational lensing and orbital speeds. And there's plenty of other evidence I don't know offhand.

        It still illustrates his point. We measure activity that seems to be caused by strong gravity, but we can't account for it by the amount of matter th

        • So how do you suggest we understand the unexplained (by current theory) gravitational effects? You offered several hypotheses, but not a way to determine which is the best one.

          Obvoiusly, you have to take each hypothesis, *assume* that it's true, and then see if it makes any measurable predictions.

          Just because there are other possibilities does not mean that this one should be ignored - it is plausible enought that somebody ought to play around with the idea and see what happens. That doesn't in any way pr

          • Just because there are other possibilities does not mean that this one should be ignored - it is plausible enought that somebody ought to play around with the idea and see what happens. That doesn't in any way preclude investigating other possibilities.

            Sure, I'm not saying no one can investigate it. But with each new, rare, strange particle and force that gets added to the realm of "particle physics", I think it is a good question to ask, "Is this one particle too many?" After all, we don't even have a s

          • Obvoiusly, you have to take each hypothesis, *assume* that it's true, and then see if it makes any measurable predictions.

            I have a response which may be more relevant than the other one. When you "assume that it's true", I really think you should assume more for the sake of argument. Going back to my sarcastic comparison, I could hypothesize that it is angels that move the planets, assume that it's true, and spend hundreds of years trying to see if it makes measureable predictions. But I think you would

    • Re:What? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by hcdejong (561314) <`ln.tensmx' `ta' `sebboh'> on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @05:29AM (#9819984)
      No. It's always a matter of trying to make the theory fit your observations. Adding stuff to the theory, and then trying to prove or measure that addition is a perfectly valid way of working.
      Yes, sometimes a paradigm shift is needed. But that doesn't make the work done before it invalid. In fact, tracking the consequences of your current theory until you've painted yourself into a corner is a good way to find out if a paradigm shift is needed.
      Of course, human nature makes adding stuff to a theory you already have a lot easier than coming up with a completely new idea.
      Also, an entirely new theory will have to account for quite a lot. In this case, things like the components of an atom, the wave/particle duality, E=MC^2, etc, all of which took a century of work by the entire scientific community to figure out, will have to be explained by your new theory.
    • Re:What? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ghostlibrary (450718)
      "Is it just me, or are scientists trying to make science fit the theory?"

      It's neither :) The main thing is, when faced with a problem in the current theory, the scientists are saying "Okay, maybe it's _X_"-- but they make sure _X_ is testable.

      That's what keeps it from just being pseudoscience or fiction. As long as a theory is testable, it can be as wacky as you want.

      Subject to the usual criteria and Occam's Razor, of course-- really wacky ideas (like 'the Big Bang' or 'Sun is center of solar system')
    • > Is it just me, or are scientists trying to make science fit the theory?

      Don't worry, science will undergo a major revolution soon enough, when they stop being blind to the truth of the subjective.

      --
      I wasn't smart enough to be a Mathematician,
      and was too lazy to be a Engineer,
      so I became a programmer :)
    • Is it just me, or are scientists trying to make science fit the theory?

      This is my feeling as well.

      Ever since I read The Elegant Universe, I've thought that there was a pretty obvious source of the gravitational effects currently attributed to things like "dark matter" - gravitons entering our brane from other branes. Given that they're the only particle that isn't bound to a brane, it would seem pretty obvious to me that many trillions of them should be passing from brane to brane all of the time.

      It's k
      • Re:What? (Score:2, Interesting)

        by edgar_is_good (684481)
        Gravitons are massless (although Kaluza-Klein gravitons are not), so plain gravitons would make bad dark matter as they wouldn't clump and don't redshift appropriately.

        Also, to radiate gravitational energy, there has to be matter on the other brane (e.g. dark matter).

        I find it funny that you appeal to string theory because you don't like new particles. The thing with string theory is that it predicts a huge number of unseen particles, some of which could be dark matter and accelerons. You can't really tak
    • Actually, you could take any point in space and say the universe revolves around it. Motion is relative; it's justs that some motions are easier to write equations for.
  • Hello /. Editors. (Score:3, Informative)

    by pb (1020) on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @02:58AM (#9819624)
    It is spelled 'existence'; it's even correct in the article body. So please fix it in the title.
    Thank you.
  • Hmmm (Score:4, Funny)

    by advocate_one (662832) on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @03:39AM (#9819733)
    observations don't match your theory???

    postulate a new particle...

    how about working on the existing theory so that it doesn't require yet another particle???

    • how about working on the existing theory so that it doesn't require yet another particle???

      If you can do that I think I may have Nobel Prize around here somewhere to give you.
    • Re:Hmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Oddly_Drac (625066) on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @06:24AM (#9820098)
      "how about working on the existing theory so that it doesn't require yet another particle???"

      And if that particle actually exists?

      There was a furor that surrounded the nuetrino when it was first thought up and they did think that it was so weakly interacting that they'd never find it. Turns out that several hundred tonnes of chlorine and some sensitive photodetectors embedded in a mountain do the trick.

      The Higgs boson is another case in point; to find it in a collider requires extremely high energy collisions, but we don't have one. Do we write off the Higgs boson because we don't have a detector for it?

    • Not always bad (Score:3, Insightful)

      by levell (538346)

      Speaking as someone who has predicted new particles [arxiv.org] generally people come up with new model that do something novel (e.g. in the case of the paper I linked to, has a natural explanation of the relative electric charges of the particles.

      If the model seems particularly interesting then people will do calculations in it and either show it's wrong or come up with experiments to test it....If it turns out to be right (if only....), then it's a good job you predicted those extra particles because you've just ad

    • Re:Hmmm (Score:2, Interesting)

      by nine-times (778537)
      observations don't match your theory???

      postulate a new particle...

      Well, it's even worse, I think, then physicists' normal tendancies to make up new particals and forces whenever they get stuck. If you read the article, it sounds like these physicists are trying to describe "dark energy", and the only way they can think to do this is to say nuetrinos have mass. OK, but this means a lot of what they thought about nuetrinos makes no sense- and if you ask me, nuetrinos already fit into the classification o

      • Ideas like dark energy can be more accurately thought of as cloaks over unclear sections of our model of the universe. The idea is to slowly peel back the cloak from one direction or another as our understanding of the universe grows. Hopefully, at some point, the cloak will be removed entirely.
      • by pubudu (67714)

        Well, it's even worse, I think, than physicists' normal tendancies to make up new particals and forces whenever they get stuck. If you read the article, it sounds like these physicists are trying to describe "dark energy", and the only way they can think to do this is to say nuetrinos have mass. OK, but this means a lot of what they thought about nuetrinos makes no sense- and if you ask me, nuetrinos already fit into the classification of "suspect particles".

        If this is the impression of particle physics

      • by ekuns (695444) *

        Well, it's even worse, I think, then physicists' normal tendancies to make up new particals and forces whenever they get stuck

        This is not an accurate characterization. There are only four forces thus far, maybe five including "dark energy" depending on the theories. That's hardly a large number of forces, and the rules governing those forces are really very simple. And fundamental particles -- well, there are six quarks and six leptons plus the force carriers: The photon, W, Z, gluon, Higgs Boson, g

        • 5 forces isn't really a small number, especially when you can't link them. And the particles you've mentioned are just the particles that are pretty well accepted. Which is still a lot- again, with no way to tie them together. Sometimes it seems like every month someone proposes a new one.

          a) Insofar as "dark matter" and "dark energy" are placeholders for real explanations, and they're recognized as "not an explanation", I've no problem. Well, in fact, I'd want you to stipulate, as you implied, that th

          • by ekuns (695444) *

            Well, in fact, I'd want you to stipulate, as you implied, that this may be some unknown secondary function of some other force, or maybe even that we'll discover our methods for measuring the expansion of the universe are flawed.

            I'm entirely open to that. Scientific consensus has so many times been entirely wrong -- or more accurately, insufficiently correct -- that I don't believe that we have the end-all-be-all answer. You're correct, some people DO believe that we do. There are definitely people o

            • Yeah, I remembered that they were postulated to account for missing momentum in nuclear reations, and I remembered that the neutrino couldn't really carry mass away with it, and I am willing to submit that I must have gotten "zero mass" and "effectively zero mass" confused.
  • Does anybody else get the feeling that the writers from Star Dreck:Voyager have moved into the particle physics business?

    This just reeks of the "Particle of the Week" writing that ST:V indulged in so frequently.

    What next - the hypothesis that the universe will undergo a "Big Rip", but then the interaction of the accelerons and the whetions will reset the timeline and everything will be back to normal?
  • Testable.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by kettlechips (769541)
    "This is the only model that gives us some meaningful way to do experiments on earth to find the force that gives rise to dark energy. We can do this using existing neutrino experiments."

    At least this theory could possibly be proven or disproven right here on earth. That's what's nice about it.

    Where it comes to hunting for clues concerning the evolution of the universe's expansion rate, or black holes/singularities (Now there's a gem of a postulated "particle"), you can freely conjecture with little chan

  • Understanding the phenomenon could help to explain why someday, long in the future, the universe will expand so much that no other stars or galaxies will be visible in our night sky,

    And here I thought the explanation would be the engulfing of our poor little planet by our sun-turned-red-giant. [wikipedia.org]

  • by Xentax (201517) on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @09:25AM (#9820951)
    I actually RTFA (no, I'm not new here...), and I think the submitter is wrong about one thing.

    As far as I can tell, the existence of this new particle is being *hypothesized*, and since there's discussion of using neutrino detectors to see if they're right, it may soon be *theorized*.

    A *postulate* is something else - a statement that is accepted as truth, usually as the basis of a theory or argument. Here's a helpful definition [reference.com].

    I'm sure these people don't expect anyone to simply "accept as truth" the existence of accelerons, but rather want to go do experiments and turn their hypothesis into either a theory or a failed hypothesis.

    A postulate is something along the lines of "Through a point not on a line, one and only one line can be drawn parallel to the given line."

    That is, you can accept it as truth or deny it, but trying to actually prove or disprove it *experimentally* is difficult or impossible. There's either a logical counterexample, or not (or we haven't found it yet).

    Xentax
    • A *postulate* is something else - a statement that is accepted as truth, usually as the basis of a theory or argument... I'm sure these people don't expect anyone to simply "accept as truth" the existence of accelerons, but rather want to go do experiments and turn their hypothesis into either a theory or a failed hypothesis.

      Actually, describing it as a postulate is fine. A postulate is not necessarily something that you believe is actually true; it can also just be something that you accept as true for t

      • This is starting to remind me of the whole graviton thing.

        I guess I agree with you - perhaps new theories that postulate the existence of accelerons will be formulated, and perhaps they'll hold up well experimentally.

        But if so, this is one of those postulates, like the one that there's a quantifiable unit/particle/whatever of gravity, where I hesitate to just blindly grant the assertion that it exists. How much is a seemingly-solid theory worth if it's built upon postulates that are contrived - compared,
        • How much is a seemingly-solid theory worth if it's built upon postulates that are contrived - compared, say, to a slightly-less solid theory based on less-stretchy postulates? I'd give a concrete example but none come to mind (there's probably a good one in the Newtonian vs. relativistic models of mechanics, though).

          This is tough, though. I know people who would argue that Newton's postulates are more solid, and I know people who might argue Einstein's are. Sometimes what's "self-evident" or "common sens

          • Well, I was *thinking* that Newton's postulates were simpler, but that relativistic mechanics have greater predictive power (Einstein explaining Newtonian physics basically as estimates that are reasonably accurate when relativistic factors are minimal, Newtonian mechanics as simply not extending into the realm of relativity). Anything dealing with the speed of light is going to quickly go outside the realm of self-evident :)

            It's hard to imagine two systems, built on different postulates, collapsing to a t
            • If it were to happen though, I think you'd fall back on something like Occam's Razor to try to decide which is 'right' - which relies on the fewest or simplest set of assumptions, IF you can even ascertain that (as above, it may be debatable).

              Yeah, I agree. Interesting to think about though. What I was trying to remember- it wasn't a Newton/Leibnitz thing now that I think about it. It must have been a Huygens/Leibnitz thing. Both describing the refraction of light when changing media. One described it

          • What if two competing theories, with different postulates, come, eventually, to the same mathematical expression, and therefore exactly equal predictive capabilities?

            This has, in fact, already happened! Two decades ago there were four completing unrelated formulations of string theory. Then one person proved that all four formulations were in fact different ways of saying the same thing, and that mathematical transformations could convert one theory into another.

            Now, I'm not a big believer in string

      • Xentax's own example of a postulate, ""Through a point not on a line, one and only one line can be drawn parallel to the given line," describes Euclidian or parabolic geometry (flat space). Changing it allow one to think about curved spaces. From this reference [wolfram.com]:

        If, however, the phrase "exists one and only one straight line which passes" is replaced by "exists no line which passes," or "exist at least two lines which pass," the postulate describes equally valid (though less intuitive) types of geometries

        • Right...so, uh, where were you going with that?

          My point was that a postulate is an assertion - accepted as true or false, rather than something that can be proven or disproven via testing, logical proof, etc.

          From the Article, it looked to me like they were *hypothesizing* the existence of accelerons, which is far more interesting to me than merely postulating them.

          I could postulate that the universe is expanding at an increasing rate because it wants to get the hell away from Earth, now that we're MOSTLY
          • Rereading, I guess you were providing a concrete example of a substitute/contrary postulate and building off of it.

            Non-euclidean geometry is definitely fascinating stuff - it's hard, but not impossibly so, to imagine 2-d space being wrapped around a sphere (or an hourglass, etc.) rather than a plane, and thus making a different set of postulates - that's where justification for things like wormholes comes from.

            I agree 100% that you can do interesting things by changing postulates and reevaluating whatever
            • Yeah, I think he was just adding to the discussion by stating explicitly what we were dancing around: That you chose for your postulate the one that is denied in non-Euclidean geometry.

              I'd just be leery of going too far down those roads without some good reason for choosing a particular set of postulates

              I agree, but I'd like to modify a little. With Euclid's 5th postulate (which is what keeps being cited), any contrary case was considered pretty far out there. That a non-Euclidean system would be self

              • The universe isn't flat, so non-Euclidean geometry is very relevant to physics.
                • True. I think his point was that abstract math tends to be interesting - like your example, where what was considered abstract math turns out to have practical applications when you're talking about space-time.

                  But abstract *physics* is probably less interesting, since (so far) trying to wrap your head around some contrived alternate set of physical axioms and constants is much harder than (to reuse our running example) wrapping a plane around a sphere or a cone and seeing how that changes your perspective.
                  • But abstract *physics* is probably less interesting, since (so far) trying to wrap your head around some contrived alternate set of physical axioms and constants is much harder than (to reuse our running example) wrapping a plane around a sphere or a cone and seeing how that changes your perspective.

                    Yeah, this is pretty much what I had in mind. It seems to me that, in mathematical systems, you're always abstracting. That lends it a sort of independance from "how things actually are". A mathematical syst

  • Article text (Score:3, Informative)

    by TMB (70166) on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @03:09PM (#9823899)
    Here's a full pre-print of the article [lanl.gov].

    [TMB]
  • The Borges Schneidics Institute has announced the "schneidon", a particle with an informational equivalence of one queeb. Queebs have been described as "disconnection between oneself and the divine", and as "bad vibes", although schneidynamic research into that phenomenon is, as yet, inconclusive. Schneidons are believed to be the building blocks of "nemory": events not remembered, that never happened. Schneidons might be links in the "Time = Money" equivalence sought by BRI. Or I might just be making all t
  • ... Unobtanium ;-)

    Sorry, I had to do that...

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