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Matter, Anti-Matter, and a New Subatomic Particle? 175

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the those-quarky-particles dept.
sciencehabit writes "Physicists may have finally figured out why the universe contains more matter than antimatter. The key lies in a flaw in the relationship between the two and a potentially new subatomic particle. 'Other researchers, however, say the results, published today in Nature, should be interpreted cautiously. It could all be an effect produced by run-of-the-mill particles'."
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Matter, Anti-Matter, and a New Subatomic Particle?

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  • Dark Matter? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by TFer_Atvar (857303)
    Where does dark matter fit into that cosmological view?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Zymergy (803632) *
      I am no theoretical astrophysicist, but me thinks "Dark Matter" is the name of the current fad stop-gap physics widget which is necessary to balance out equations in their current hypotheses and models.

      Doctors once thought that wellness and illness within the human body were caused by the balance between the body's four humors: Yellow Bile, Black Bile, Phlegm, and Blood.
      Obviously, there is MUCH more to it than that. It is no different with this.
      The actual answers to the universe and its mass-energy
      • Re:Dark Matter? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by TapeCutter (624760) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @02:13AM (#22827236) Journal
        IIRC dark matter is required to make the observed rotation of galaxies fit our current model. OTOH: When I was a kid in the 60's black holes were mathematical curiosities.
      • Re:Dark Matter? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by timmarhy (659436) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @02:15AM (#22827242)
        our grandchildren will probably look back 50 years from now and wonder how we could be so stupid.
        • by JohnFluxx (413620) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @03:54AM (#22827570)
          Because we look back at Einstein and wonder how he could be so stupid to think quantum mechanics was wrong..

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by vertinox (846076)
            Because we look back at Einstein and wonder how he could be so stupid to think quantum mechanics was wrong..

            I was thinking more on the lines of who we voted into office and our reality TV shows, but to each his own.
        • Re:Dark Matter? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by kestasjk (933987) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @04:18AM (#22827654) Homepage
          Implying modern day theoretical physicists are stupid probably isn't something you should do unless you know what you're talking about
          • Re:Dark Matter? (Score:4, Insightful)

            by TheRaven64 (641858) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @10:41AM (#22829140) Journal
            From a sufficient distance it's easy to mistake ignorance for stupidity, and modern theoretical physicists are incredibly ignorant. The community as a whole has only been working seriously at the problem of understanding the universe for a hundred years or so - how could they possibly be anything else?
          • Precisely. To do that you would have to be a skilled phycisist, and we certainly don't know what we're talking about. ; )
      • Re:Dark Matter? (Score:5, Informative)

        by wizardforce (1005805) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @02:21AM (#22827266) Journal

        I am no theoretical astrophysicist, but me thinks "Dark Matter" is the name of the current fad stop-gap physics widget which is necessary to balance out equations in their current hypotheses and models.
        yes, the concept of dark matter was conceived as a gap filler for a few observations- that the amount of mass in galaxies appeared to exceed the visible quantity by about 10x and that the velocity curves for stars orbiting in galaxies was all wrong. now we have additional observations of areas of very little visible matter but a noticeable gravitational bending of space. large masses warp space around them and light bends as well- we can observe this and when we see light bend where there isn't that much visible matter, we can actually map the dark matter its self. one region in particular contained a halo of dark matter that was wrenched away from the visible in the area.

        Does "Dark Matter" cease to be dark if you shine a light on it?
        it depends on what it is. if it is baryonic then yes, if it isn't like many of our models show, then maybe not.
      • Re:Dark Matter? (Score:4, Informative)

        by starwed (735423) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @02:37AM (#22827326)

        I am no theoretical astrophysicist, but me thinks "Dark Matter" is the name of the current fad stop-gap physics widget which is necessary to balance out equations in their current hypotheses and models.
        The dark matter model has actually made successful predictions. That makes it actual, real science, not just a "stop-gap" widget. From a paper of The Dark Matter Scientific Assessment Group:

        ...evidence from galactic rotation curves, gravitational lensing, hot gas in galactic clusters, precision measurements of the cosmic microwave background and measurements of large scale structure in the Universe all support the existence of dark matter in the Universe.
        • Re:Dark Matter? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Zymergy (803632) * on Saturday March 22, 2008 @04:06AM (#22827612)
          I agree there is "something" out there that does have mass and therefore also has gravitational fields.
          Since we can't currently *see it* I'll also agree that because it is currently not directly observable it is therefore "Dark" and made of "Matter".

          My point is; that it to call it "Dark Matter" and to be done with it leaves things rather vague. Science rarely is so succinct and simple.

          Black Hole material is also "Dark Matter" as it too cannot be directly observed.
          Enough effects and gravity of the Black Holes' "Dark Matter" exists on the non-dark observable matter nearby to their hypothesized locations to convince scientists that Black Holes do exist (in addition to the math working out decently).
          Stephen Hawking is THE MAN.

          For all we know, the mysterious "Dark Matter" could really be just a very dense repository of all of the discarded fruitcakes from around the universe. We don't know.
          Scientists have an idea about what "Dark Matter" might be, and likely SOME of that will be correct, but chances are that a majority of it will be wrong. It will actually turn out to be something more complicated than 'matter we just can't observe' so it is now therefore decreed to be henceforth called "Dark Matter".
          I believe that atoms once were the smallest particles known, that changed. So will this. It may turn out to just be star ash, but Maybe not.
          It could be thousands of things or types of matter, likely even stuff that is NOT dark.

          If we can make a B2 bomber into "Dark Matter" from the POV of a man by using it's stealth features and electromagnetic radiation adsorbing coverings, maybe there's just plain ordinary matter out there that is rather cold and covered with some cosmic stealth paint.

          The math says it exists and there is enough circumstantial evidence that "something" is there. I doubt it has some mystical properties that make it invisible. There are other dimensions in the universe that mathematics has proven exist, maybe being close or intersecting in some way with matter in those other dimensions is actually causing the "Dark Matter" effect.
          I hope to live long enough to see "Dark Matter" become as archaic a term as the body's 4 humors are now from my original analogy.
          • by novakyu (636495)

            My point is; that it to call it "Dark Matter" and to be done with it leaves things rather vague. Science rarely is so succinct and simple.
            You misunderstand. This is the way it happens in science. If you don't understand something, you give it a name.

            At least that way, we know what we don't understand.
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Undead NDR (1252916)

            My point is; that it to call it "Dark Matter" and to be done with it leaves things rather vague.


            Fact is, in science you are never "done with it". So there's nothing wrong with a general classification like "dark matter", because you can take for granted that in the future it will be dissected into more specific kinds of matter.

            Just as we first had "atoms" and then discovered sub-atomic particles.

          • Re:Dark Matter? (Score:5, Informative)

            by PvtVoid (1252388) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @10:23AM (#22829044)

            For all we know, the mysterious "Dark Matter" could really be just a very dense repository of all of the discarded fruitcakes from around the universe.

            No, it couldn't. One thing that is definitely known is that the dark matter is not made of regular atoms (baryonic matter). Baryonic matter is known to comprise no more than about four percent of the total density of stuff in the universe, versus about 25 percent for dark matter. If the universe were 25 percent baryonic, all sorts of measurements would come out differently than they do:

            (1) The primordial abundance of elements, which is observed to be about 76 percent hydrogen and 24 percent helium and a trace of lithium, would be very different. See here [wikipedia.org]

            (2) The signatures of acoustic oscillations in the Cosmic Micrwave Background would be much larger than they are observed to be. See here [wikipedia.org]

            (3) Any extra baryons would show up in the hot gas between galaxies in large clusters, which is very accurately measured by X-ray satellites. See here [nasa.gov].

            (4) Dark matter consisting of small condensed objects like Jupiter-sized planets would show up in gravitational microlensing [wikipedia.org] surveys. They don't.

            We don't know what dark matter is, but we sure as hell know what it's not, and it is not ordinary matter that just happens to be dark. There are multiple, independent lines of evidence which support this conclusion.

      • by shess (31691)
        I am no theoretical astrophysicist, but me thinks "Dark Matter" is the name of the current fad stop-gap physics widget which is necessary to balance out equations in their current hypotheses and models.

        As was quantum mechanics at one point. The equations do want to balance, one way or the other. The thing that balances them is by definition strange and wonderful.

        Doctors once thought that wellness and illness within the human body were caused by the balance between the body's four humors: Yellow Bile, Blac
      • Does "Dark Matter" cease to be dark if you shine a light on it?

        It's a particle so it just changes it's state to "Not So Dark Matter".

      • by nicklott (533496)
        As I recall it was mainly invented because galaxies spin a lot faster than we think they should. But in most of science if the observation doesn't match your theory, you change your theory, not the observation.

        Experimental methods for confirming dark matter seem to have failed (WIMPS) so we're just left with observations that don't match our theory. Go figure.

        Having said that, Dark matter is at least slightly more plausible than dark energy, and string theory makes them both look like fundamental tenets

    • by HiThere (15173)
      Dark Matter just means it's heavy and we can't see it. This includes wandering planets, Black holes without an accretion disk, brown dwarf stars that are a few light years away, etc.

      But it comes in several different flavors. If the big bang theories are correct, most of the missing mass of the universe can't be baryonic. (I.e., it can't be built around protons and neutrons.) In that case what is it? Some of it's massive neutrinos...but not all. It can't be electrons, as there aren't any more electrons
      • Re: there aren't any more electrons than protons

        If there were more electrons than protons, their charge would need to be balanced by positrons, so we'd see gamma ray peaks indicating annihilation of electrons by positrons. We don't.

        OTOH, this is based on other theories. E.g. it presumes that the net charge is neutral. There are lots of good reasons to believe this, but a direct proof is obviously impossible. (We couldn't even do a direct proof that your hand was neutral...but there are lots of good reas
  • Does it ever seem as if they are fudging in new particles and forms matter to account for discrepancies in math or observation? Well, it IS tax season...
  • Is if they could figure out the reasons behind a similar type of disparity in the chirality of naturally occurring amino acids.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by tabrnaker (741668)
      I believe the kabbalists and yogis have already explained that.

      Though i guess most physicists don't study jewish and/or indian spirituality.

    • F.Y.I the presence of certain amino acids such as glycine can affect the rate at which certain enantiomers of amino acids form- certain chemical synthesis reactions favor one product over another depending solely on the chirality of the catalyst used. zeolites may have even played a role in creating the disparity in chirality of the amino acids. proteins constructed from right handed amino acids work just as well on achiral substrates as the left handed ones do so that's probably not a factor in why we on
  • Matter, Antimatter and it doesn't matter. I knew it all along.

    So. We now have the ancient joke out of the way, let's start the discussion.
  • A flaw in God's perfect creation?!?!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sltd (1182933)
      It isn't so much a flaw in creation, it's a flaw in how we try to explain it.
    • by wizardforce (1005805) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @02:31AM (#22827306) Journal
      well he's a programmer after all. the big bang was the beginning of the alpha, blackholes are memory leaks, spatial expansion is feature bloat and the disparity between matter and antimatter resulted because of a calculation error in Excel.
      • by 12357bd (686909)
        No, it was because He used C++ and garbage collection. Guess what dark matter is, it will be a funny time when it will be collected!.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by glitch23 (557124)

      A flaw in God's perfect creation?!?!

      A flaw in our understanding of it. Quit making flames for the sake of making flames because there is no basis in the article for what you said. You'll look less stupid in the process.

      • It was not a flame, it was a joke. A deliberately silly joke. I may look stupid for making a silly statement as a joke, but not as stupid as you do for the silly statement in your sig made in complete seriousness.
        • It was not a flame, it was a joke.

          I believe that, as a prerequisite to getting mod points, you have to prove that 1) you have no identifiable sense of humor and 2) that your sarcasm meter has been permanently fried. Funny mods are just randomly generated by slashcode.
    • by Roger W Moore (538166) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @03:26AM (#22827486) Journal
      Without this "flaw" matter and anti-matter would have cancelled out almost perfectly early on in the Big Bang leaving nowhere near enough matter (or anti-matter) to form galaxies or stars. So this "flaw" is what allows us to exist. I would not call it a flaw, but rather a design feature. Without breaking this symmetry the Universe would be a really boring place, in much the same way that a tree is more interesting than a cube even though the cube has far more symmetry.
      • by ThreeGigs (239452)
        leaving nowhere near enough matter (or anti-matter) to form galaxies or stars

        Actually, matter + antimatter = energy.
        Energy, if it's 'dense' enough (like what they're trying to accomplish in the LHC), will 'condense' to form matter or antimatter.

        All that's needed is a very slight tendency toward that condensation to be biased for a universe full of one or the other after a big bang.

        Think about the scenario:
        Matter and antimatter start 'condensing' out of the early big bang. The newly formed particles collide
        • All that's needed is a very slight tendency toward that condensation to be biased for a universe full of one or the other after a big bang.

          That is not quite all that is needed. There are three conditions for matter dominance (called the Sakharov conditions) required in the Big Bang:

          • CP violation: need to create more matter than anti-matter
          • Thermodynamic dis-equilibrium (otherwise what ever process that created the matter excess will run equally fast in reverse cancelling it out)
          • Baryon number violation: need some way to create baryons e.g. proton without creating anti-baryons

          The 'flaw' might not even be needed. If it could be shown that the presence of matter near a high concentration of energy would affect the condensation of that energy in such a way as to bias it toward condensing into matter...

          That is precisely what the flaw is so you do need it. Yo

      • by wasted (94866)

        Without this "flaw" matter and anti-matter would have cancelled out almost perfectly early on in the Big Bang leaving nowhere near enough matter (or anti-matter) to form galaxies or stars. So this "flaw" is what allows us to exist. I would not call it a flaw, but rather a design feature.

        Microsoft Physics?

        (sorry, couldn't pass that one up.)
         
        • Microsoft Physics?

          I hope not. I would hate for us to turn on the LHC only to discover the Universe has a blue screen of death.
      • by KKlaus (1012919)
        Does antimatter give off a different type of light? If not, how do we know the two types aren't simply segregated?
        • I believe the way this is known is based off the intergalactic gas. It's incredibly diffuse, but still exists. If there were to be a section of the universe with antimatter being the most prevalent, the intergalactic gas would be made of antimatter. Where the matter-based gas and the antimatter-based gas would meet there would be a violent amount of energy released from their mutual annihilation, which would be noticeable via observation.
        • Anti-matter annihilations give of gamma rays. In particular electrons and positrons annihilate to give two 511 keV photons so if you saw these (or other gamma rays) it would be sure sign of matter/anti-matter annihilation.

          Since the solar wind does not do this with the galaxy, nor do any other stars within the galaxy, we can assume that our galaxy is 100% matter. Since none of the galaxies in the local cluster produce gamma rays with the sparse gas in between them then these too must be all matter. Furth
      • by ShakaUVM (157947)
        I find it interesting myself, especially since nature seems to exhibit symmetry nearly everywhere else.

        However, my understanding of it is that there's a rather large asymmetry between the amount of energy needed to create a matter particle vs. a much higher number to create an antimatter particle. Not the 1% they were talking about, but something like an order of magnitude more free energy. Hence the free energy ended up mainly creating bosonic matter.
        • I find it interesting myself, especially since nature seems to exhibit symmetry nearly everywhere else.

          Actually I would say that nature exhibits broken symmetries nearly everywhere. The matter/anti-matter asymmetry is almost perfect (it is a VERY small effect) but slightly broken. The mass of fundamental particles may well be the result of a broken symmetry. Weak interactions break a symmetry called parity (inversion of all space axes) maximally. There may also be a symmetry between matter and force, sup
  • by hyades1 (1149581) <hyades1@hotmail.com> on Saturday March 22, 2008 @03:02AM (#22827414)

    Would that be, um, flour? The universe is held together by flour?

    (Thought I should attempt to reflect the Luddite perspective. Everybody else commenting on this post is being far too intelligent and rational.)

    • The universe is held together by flour?

      The universe is held together by Duct Tape. Except air conditioning ducts, because of the enormous quantities of Schrodinger particles emitted by shed cat hair. You need to use metallized tape to hold those together. Heavy-metallized if you have more than two cats.
  • by Bryan Ischo (893) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @03:08AM (#22827436) Homepage
    So did Garrett Lisi predict the new particles? Do they fit into the E8 algebra thing that his theory is based on?
    • Erm, sorry about the typo.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mcelrath (8027)

      Garrett's theory does contain some new particles, which might be used to explain the effects described in TFA. What is required is new CP violation. I believe Garrett's theory contains higgs particles which could have CP violating interactions, but this is far from clear after re-reading his paper. As far as I know no one has done a detailed study using Garrett's theory. So far Garrett's paper has not been cited by any real particle physics (phenomenology) studies, so one cannot say for sure yet.

      After

      • by Bryan Ischo (893)
        You sound like you know what you're talking about. I'm a non-physicist who was intrigued by Lisi's paper, to the small extent that I understood it. I've been waiting to hear any kind of validation of it or further research in that direction, I even do a google search every couple of months to see what's up, but nothing seems to be forthcoming.

        Was it really just a flash in the pan? Is there any hope that Lisi's theory will prove to have any relevence in modern physics?
        • by mcelrath (8027) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @05:52AM (#22828000) Homepage

          Very good question...

          I do work on theoretical particle physics at CERN, so I would be the kind of person to take Garrett's paper and make predictions for colliders/astrophysics from it. (and hence, find methods to prove/disprove it) I'm not currently working on his theory, nor do I know of anyone who is. I only looked carefully at his paper when I posted the above comment (though I knew about it). I previously understood that he claimed the Standard Model was contained inside E8. If that is true then there are essentially no new predictions, just an interesting coincidence. However I see now that his theory is not the Standard Model, but a SU(2)xSU(2)xSU(4) Pati-Salam model. This implies several new particles that could be seen at the LHC. Garrett claims several things which are not totally justified and require some more calculations to find out (for instance...that the gauge groups unify).

          The Pati-Salem model is well-studied (though not currently -- it was popular in the 80's). It is often known as a "leptoquark" theory. However I do not see in Garrett's paper the particle content necessary to make leptoquarks, nor the particles (higgses) to break the SU(2)xSU(2)xSU(4) to the Standard Model's U(1)xSU(2)xSU(3).

          I think the problem is sociological. Garrett made a big splash in the gravity community, but I haven't heard a peep from any of my colleagues in particle physics. I will ask around at CERN next week. I know of no good reason why people are not studying it more carefully and making predictions (though, I'm sure Garrett is, but his background is gravity, not colliders).

          Flash in the pan? Lots of stuff in the popular press is. For instance TFA is probably an effect of non-gaussian errors, but by making a splashy title they've gotten themselves a Science magazine article. Garrett got his flash partly because of his non-traditional lifestyle. Moral of the story is that the things that appear in the popular press are usually "hero" or "eureka!" stories. But science is full of neither heroes nor daily eureka's. I could complain further about the state of science reporting...

          Keep in mind that there are literally hundreds of theories capable of explaining TFA (assuming it's not a statistical fluctuation), and you won't hear about them in the popular press because they're not sexy and hard to explain. For instance, a 4th generation of quarks or a complex higgs sector. Garrett's theory might be one of them, we don't know yet. We don't usually explain these theories to the public because explaining 100 different complicated theories, 99 of which must be wrong...is probably a waste of the public's time. Instead, we'll turn on the LHC this year, which will undoubtedly generate tons of popular articles, and hopefully at least one mostly-correct theory. ;)

          -- Bob

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Bryan Ischo (893)
            Wow, that was a thoroughly awesome reply, I really appreciate it.

            I only knew about Lisi's paper because it was posted on Slashdot; I do consider all of the lifestyle stuff to be completely superfluous and don't base my judgment on the paper on those things (however considering how sour the taste is in my mouth whenever I hear about string theory, the fact that he is very much outside the 'establishment' does have its appeal). Also there was some flack posted about his paper because it was titled 'An Except
            • by mcelrath (8027) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @11:13AM (#22829314) Homepage

              Glad I could be of service. BTW I think your "periodic table" comment is an apt description of the situation. I think what's missing is dynamics.

              Rather than google, if you want to keep up with Lisi (or anyone else's) papers, I suggest the SLAC Spires database. For instance, this is Lisi's "exceptionally simple" paper [stanford.edu]. Click on the "Cited..." to get a list of citations. This is updated daily from journal sources, and more importantly arxiv.org. This database generally has topics of relevance to high-energy physics, astrophysics, and gravity. Another good database is the NASA Astrophysical Data Service [harvard.edu], here's Lisi's "exceptionally simple" paper [harvard.edu] on ADS. I warn you however, everything retrieved this way will be technical in nature.

              This is what the web was invented for, by the physics community at CERN no less, and now days all our papers are freely available before they are sent to journals, and the public is welcome to read them. Indeed, I despise the "ivory tower" perception and think we are much better off by having outsiders look at what we're doing. I just with the popular press would wrap their heads around the idea of citing primary sources with a hyperlink....but I digress.

              -- Bob

  • A Non-Surprise (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DynaSoar (714234) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @03:23AM (#22827482) Journal
    I attended a lecture on the CP violation in B and anti-B meson decay at Virginia Tech in 1998. The theory and maths pointed to asymmetry in the binding force of the (respectively) anti-down and down quarks involved. The amount of asymmetry was calculated to be a few parts in a billion. It hadn't then been seen, but the exact nature of the experimental set-up had been worked out (that was the nature of the lecture). Now it has been seen. Now that it has, why pull an unknown particle rabbit out of the quantum hat? What happened to a perfectly good hypothesis derived from known factors which predicted exactly this?

    Astronomers noticed an anomaly. They dreamed up dark matter to explain it. Actually, they dredged it up -- the concept had been applied to other phenomena and always found not to be involved if it even existed. Then they set about looking for other signs that matched the theory, and in a fit of circular reasoning claimed it supported the hypothesized existence of the dream-stuff. Now that they're getting away with it so well that The Teaching Company even has a 12 hour lecture series on it for sale, it's encouraging others to invent all manner of invisible widgetons to blame it on, because hey, anyone can do science, but how many people get to dream up something imaginary and get taken seriously? Dream-stuff is sexy even if it doesn't exist. It gets you noticed. It gets you published, and if the publication is more a question than an answer, well, it's invisible or massless or some other quality which makes it unseen by everyone except you and your imagination.

    I'm not buying until I see how they dismiss the previous workable theory based on entirely known quanta that predates this supposed discovery by 10 years.

    • by Roger W Moore (538166) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @04:29AM (#22827702) Journal
      All this paper shows is that there is a difference between CP violation in the charged B mesons and the neutral B mesons. This is somewhat unexpected and while you cannot rule out something new it is also true that they cannot rule out QCD (strong force) effects.

      The problem the strong force is that it is so strong at low energy that our normal technique to calculate what is going on (called perturbation theory) does not work because, rather than small perturbations, the strong interaction causes huge changes. This means that theorists have to make approximations in order to calculate anything and so their results may well just show a flaw in their assumptions rather than a flaw in our understanding of physics.

      An excellent example of this was with my grad student experiment which was also measuring CP violation but with kaons. Before our measurement the theorists were saying that there was absolutely no way at all they could have a certain parameter (epsilon'/epsilon) to have a value greater than 1e-3 and it would likely be a lot lower. So, we measured it at around 1.7e-3 and, lo and behold, the theorists adjusted their models and suddenly it was in agreement with theory.

      So while this might be an indication of something new I am not yet convinces that it is anything more than an incorrect assumption in a QCD calculation somewhere. Such calculations are fantastically difficult and while in this case there are things that will make it easier, it is not yet convincing evidence.
      • So while this might be an indication of something new I am not yet convinces that it is anything more than an incorrect assumption in a QCD calculation somewhere. Such calculations are fantastically difficult and while in this case there are things that will make it easier, it is not yet convincing evidence./blockquote.
        Someone please mode the parent +1, Understated. Quantum Chromodynamics still give me a nightmares, and it's been 10 years since I last dealt with them.

        I take high-energy particle physics rese

    • Re:A Non-Surprise (Score:4, Insightful)

      by mcelrath (8027) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @06:06AM (#22828050) Homepage

      Ok I'll one-up you: I attended a lecture this week, on this particular paper, at CERN.

      why pull an unknown particle rabbit out of the quantum hat?

      Because in addition to the expected effects, TFA claims NEW effects not explainable by the standard theory. So, we need a new rabbit. The original theory is NOT sufficient if their claims are not due to statistical fluctuations.

      Astronomers noticed an anomaly. They dreamed up dark matter to explain it. [...] Then they set about looking for other signs that matched the theory...

      That's a pretty darn good description of the scientific method, minus your disparaging adjectives.

      Yes anyone can do science. That's the point. Observe, Hypothesize, test. Proving/disproving your dreamed up theory is hard work, and that's what we do. If their observations were explainable by the current theory, they would have been shot down in 5 seconds by their colleagues, in a seminar, or in the journals, and you wouldn't be reading about it in Science magazine. Science is incredibly adversarial. We're all trying to kill each other's theories.

      FYI, it's generally a bad assumption that some piece of science you read about in the press has a simple explanation, and the scientists are idiots.

      -- Bob

  • by creimer (824291) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @03:35AM (#22827512) Homepage
    If (theory != sense)
        then create.newParticle();
    Else
        publish.newTheory();
    • by nicklott (533496)
      No, you need to lose the Else from that stmt...
    • With an improved class library you can do both of those with one variable....

      if (theory != sense)
          theory.createNewParticle(BS)
      else
          theory.publishNewArticle(BS);

      Why carry around variables for "theory" and "publish"? Don't they belong together?
      • by VanessaE (970834)
        You know you're a geek when a person uses pseudocode to make a joke and you actually 'get it', but you know that you're dealing with a bunch of geeks when several others actually pick that code apart and go so far as to rewrite it! Gotta love Slashdot. :-)
  • by LM741N (258038) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @03:51AM (#22827562)
    Why do you think it is that pi often is needed in calculations? Because someone is using the wrong coordinate system. But pi is not a rational number. It is not the ratio of two integers.
    Its the same problem with particle physics. Using the same logic, having to find more and more particles to satisfy some mathematical model makes it pretty obvious that you are in the wrong paradism. People will claim that we have proof that this or that particle exists, but what is a particle to begin with? What exactly is an electron or proton? We have no idea YET.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Inter-domain calculations are quite common in electrical engineering, and I'd expect it to be true for at least a number of scientific disciplines. The fact that you need conversion factors from one domain to the other, or even from one quantity to another does not make the model wrong. It would be the same as arguing that our gravitational model is wrong because g is not exactly 1.0, or using the value of e as proof that our understanding of the electron is flawed.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Why do you think it is that pi often is needed in calculations? Because someone is using the wrong coordinate system.

      So what coordinate system should I be "using" to find the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter? What is e^(pi*sqrt(-1)) in this coordinate system? Can you perhaps give an example of a situation in which pi is eliminated in a non-trivial calculation by choosing a more correct coordinate system, and explain why is it so bad to have a pi appear in a calculation in the first place?

      • There is definitely at least one mathematical system where pi has a precise value that could be used as the base unit in geometries. In such a system, the area of a circle would be knowable with the same absolute precision as the area of a square.

        Unfortunately, the human mind is not constructed in a way that can comprehend such a system. It would always appear to us to be based on something that is inherently irrational, no matter how it is presented. That is, in fact, one of the defining limitations of

    • by LM741N (258038)
      OK, let me put this in a layman's perspective. Why does a mirror invert an image from right to left and vice-versa, but not from top to bottom? Do you see what I am getting at?
  • "run-of-the-particle-accelerator particles"?
  • Baryogenesis (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jbatista (1205630)
    This "old" question was first successfully addressed, in a scientific way, by Andrei Sakharov circa 1967, and was called Baryogenesis (meaning "generation of baryons"). Sakharov's paper had little exposure until several years later, partly because at the time it was published in then-USSR and scientific collaboration was not as permeable as it is nowadays and also because it involved then-new knowledge (Cosmic Background Radiation, and CP-violation), and (I think) few people had the expertise, time or other

panic: kernel trap (ignored)

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