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First Creation of Anti-Strange Hypernuclei 179

Posted by kdawson
from the quark-gluon-plasma dept.
runagate writes "Brookhaven National Laboratory has created a heretofore unknown form of matter. The matter we normally encounter, and are composed of, has nuclei of protons and neutrons that contain no strange quarks. It was known that anti-strange matter could exist, and using the Solenoidal Tracker at Brookhaven's RHIC, scientists detected a couple of dozen instances of antihypernuclei. The 'Z' axis of the Periodic Table has already been extended in the positive direction by the discovery of hypernuclei, but this new discovery extends it in the negative direction for this new type of 'strange' antimatter — which may exist in the core of collapsed stars and may provide insight into why our universe appears to be made almost solely of matter and not antimatter." The Register's coverage reproduces a helpful diagram.
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First Creation of Anti-Strange Hypernuclei

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  • heh (Score:4, Funny)

    by Pojut (1027544) on Friday March 05, 2010 @11:47AM (#31372376) Homepage

    I can follow stuff like this, but every time I hear it, Treknobabble comes to mind. [wikipedia.org] Strange quarks, you say!

    • Re:heh (Score:4, Funny)

      by jellomizer (103300) on Friday March 05, 2010 @12:19PM (#31372732)

      We will fire the Anti-Strange particle emitter into the temporal distortion field to correct the change in the timeline.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        It's not working! Reverse the polarity!

      • I'll create a GUI interface in Visual Basic and see if I can track these strange particles.

      • to correct the change in the timeline.

        And give us our damn flying cars already?

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by jonadab (583620)
        > We will fire the Anti-Strange particle
        > emitter into the temporal distortion field
        > to correct the change in the timeline.

        It's not working, Captain. The chroniton radiation emanating from the distortion field is creating too much quantum interference. I'm rerouting auxiliary power through the lateral sensor array, but it's not having any effect.
  • by abbynormal brain (1637419) on Friday March 05, 2010 @11:50AM (#31372396)

    Quote: "Hypernuclei bring a third dimension into play, based on the strangeness quantum number of the nucleus, thus allowing the territory of antinuclei with nonzero strangeness." ... Just when I thought I was starting to get it ... :-\

  • "Atomsmash boffins' reverse alchemy bizarro-stuff triumph"

    "Sometimes there is more strangeness than none at all. Or less."

    the article is complete with a "Bootnote"

    so i'm under the impression of having advanced quantum physics described to me by a drunk with a cockney accent. i guess that's helpful...

    • by Obyron (615547)
      I found the article pretty amusing, but that's El Reg for you. I like their suggestion to refer to "negatively-strange" antihypernuclei as, perhaps, "ultramundane," or maybe "hyperboring."
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by SnarfQuest (469614)

      so i'm under the impression of having advanced quantum physics described to me by a drunk with a cockney accent. i guess that's helpful...

      Isn't that what it takes to be able to understand Quantum Mechanics? To normal folks, there isn't any difference between Quantum Mechanics and bellybutton lint, both are totally incomprehensible.

      • by Entropius (188861)

        This stuff is simpler than high school chemistry (making nuclei out of nucleons, made out of quarks), actually.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by hey! (33014)

      so i'm under the impression of having advanced quantum physics described to me by a drunk with a cockney accent. i guess that's helpful...

      Nah. Then then they'd call "Anti-Strange Hyypernuclei" something like "Panty-mange wiper pukey pie."

    • by wiredog (43288) on Friday March 05, 2010 @12:20PM (#31372754) Journal

      Preferably while tripping.

  • so what happens (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rossdee (243626) on Friday March 05, 2010 @11:52AM (#31372428)

    when this new form of matter comes in contact with the normal matter that the rest of the universe is made of? Do we get a gigantic explosion (as we would with matter and anti-matter), of do the particles just avoid each other like the plague?

    • Re:so what happens (Score:4, Insightful)

      by mapsjanhere (1130359) on Friday March 05, 2010 @11:59AM (#31372510)
      It really has to hurry up to do that, 100 ps doesn't give you much time to do anything. Plus,with energy in greater energy out, you can't get a bigger explosion than the one you created to create the particles to begin with. In case the annihilation of two strange atoms should destroy earth, please give yourself a Noble price on the way out.
    • Re:so what happens (Score:5, Informative)

      by Entropius (188861) on Friday March 05, 2010 @12:03PM (#31372560)

      No.

      Strange quarks behave just like down quarks (which are one of the two constituents of protons and neutrons). The only difference is that they have a higher mass.

      Y'know how heavy water is just like light water, except one of the hydrogens is replaced with a deuterium atom? This stuff is similar, except one of the down quarks is swapped with a strange.

      Unlike deuterium, though, these lambda baryons are unstable, because the strange quark is unstable. They can decay by the weak interaction (the same thing responsible for beta decay) into an up quark and a couple of leptons (electrons and neutrinos). The amount of time that weak decays take is very long compared to the time-scales involved in quark physics, but it's still very short compared to a second.

      • Re:so what happens (Score:4, Informative)

        by Chris Burke (6130) on Friday March 05, 2010 @12:18PM (#31372726) Homepage

        That's all good, but the major discovery here is actually anti-hypernucleons made with anti-strange quarks. So yeah, they will annihilate on contact with normal matter just like non-strange anti-matter.

      • by Viol8 (599362) on Friday March 05, 2010 @12:49PM (#31373108)

        Never mind its nuclear differences its:

        Heavier
        Different hydrogen bond strength (which causes toxicity in biological systems in large doses)
        Completely transparent to visible light spectrum - light water is slightly blue due to red end absorbtion
        Different melting/freezing points
        Heavy water ice will sink if put in normal water

        • by Mindcontrolled (1388007) on Friday March 05, 2010 @02:50PM (#31374682)
          Actually, D2O is not generally toxic to biological systems. Multicellular organisms don't exactly like it, but it is possible to grow bacteria and yeasts in heavily deuterated media. It is generally used to produce deuterated proteins for various analytical methods. Bacteria do tolerate 12C and 15N diets rather well, too - of course, the isotopic effect is lower there than for hydrogen. I am not exactly sure where the difference between unicellular and multicellular organisms comes from in that regard.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Viol8 (599362)

            The difference in hydrogen bond strength affects cell division but also messes about with enzyme and protein operation.

          • by Khashishi (775369)

            D2O is harmful in moderate quantities. You don't want to just drink the stuff.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by sdpuppy (898535)
        What would be interesting is if there was some combination of nucleons which would make the particle with the strange quark stable.

        For example, the half life of a free neutron is 10 minutes decay via the weak interaction, but when in a nucleus of appropriate configuration (any stable elements) it is stable.

        Would would the properties of a atom containing a strange particle be like?

      • by srealm (157581)

        ahhhh ....

        Thanks, I needed a geekgasm.

  • I have, of course, discovered and documented both at work. prior art does exist.

  • by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Friday March 05, 2010 @12:02PM (#31372556)

    Atomsmash boffins' reverse alchemy bizarro-stuff triumph.

    I like The Register, but it seems all their article (sub)titles are generated in the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider at Brookhaven as well...

    • by Chris Burke (6130)

      Actually they're created in the Relativistic Heavy Irony Collider, which is distributed throughout London pubs.

  • by Entropius (188861) on Friday March 05, 2010 @12:11PM (#31372628)

    We've known for quite a while that this sort of thing is possible. All quarks have the exact same strong interactions, after all. This is like strontium displacing calcium in bones -- it's got the same valence structure, it has similar properties, and it's no surprise that it happens.

    RHIC is a nifty machine for a lot of reasons. It provides an experimental counterpart to lattice QCD calculations of the equation of state of the quark-gluon plasma, which is the natural state of the universe at very high temperatures. But "OMG! An antistrange wound up in a bound state!" isn't why this machine is worthwhile, even if it does give El Reg something funny to write about.

  • by RevWaldo (1186281) on Friday March 05, 2010 @12:11PM (#31372636)
    No, seriously, I'm asking.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yes, I know what an anti-strange hypernucleus is.

      - GOD

  • welcome our new Anti-Strange Hypernucleic over... er, I mean under... I mean inside-out .... Um. Let me get back to you on that one.

  • This story is really a marketing gimmick for the new Alice in Wonderland movie that opened today, isn't it?

  • by Bahumat (213955) on Friday March 05, 2010 @12:24PM (#31372812) Homepage Journal

    I swear to god I'm going to write a script for my browser that blocks loading any page with the word "boffin" in it.

    Anywhere I can get a SERIOUS interpretation of this event that isn't busy self-fellating over how gigglingly clever it's own writers are?

    • It's not one of my usual sources, but on a first reading it seems decent:
      http://www.world-science.net/othernews/100304_antimatter.htm [world-science.net]

    • by Hotawa Hawk-eye (976755) on Friday March 05, 2010 @01:33PM (#31373716)

      I'm not a physicist, but what I got from the article (+ some background for those who have forgotten/never took nuclear physics:)

      * Atoms are made up of protons, neutrons, and electrons. Atomic nuclei contain just protons and neutrons.

      * Protons and neutrons themselves are made up of smaller particles called quarks.

      * In regular matter the protons and neutrons are made up of two different types of quarks, called up and down quarks.

      * Two up quarks + one down make up a proton, one up + two down give you a neutron.

      * If you replace some or all of the up or down quarks with a different type of quark (up -> strange, down -> charm I believe) then you get a new type of subatomic particle. If you think of the periodic table as being a building, the regular periodic table makes up the ground floor, while atoms using these strange/charm subatomic particles would live on higher floors.

      * If you replace all the up and down quarks with antiup and antidown quarks, you get a new type of subatomic particle (the antiproton or antineutron.) They live in the other wing of the periodic building.

      * This article reports that researchers have found particles where both the quarks have been replaced by antiquarks and some or all of those antiup/antidown quarks have been replaced by an antistrange quark. These are in the basement of the periodic building, the first particles discovered there.

      • I find your summation brilliantly succinct, and perfect for someone like me.
        Not a rocket scientist - but a former rocket operator.

        Why have I been getting 15 mod points a day lately, and have none when I need 'em.

      • by jeff4747 (256583)

        I'm sorry. This is Slashdot so your building analogy is just too confusing. Perhaps if you used a car analogy?

    • by HiThere (15173)

      Something predicted by theory, but never seen before, has now been seen.

      Current practical significance: None, unless you are a quantum mechanic.

      Current theoretical significance: Chalk up another one that our theory got pretty much right. Now we need to check the detailed predictions against what we measured.

      This was all there to be read in the Register article, but the story was being presented in a humorous way. (But not, I think, demeaning. The article did poke a bit of fun as the way quarks are name

      • by sdpuppy (898535)

        (But not, I think, demeaning. The article did poke a bit of fun as the way quarks are named...but the names are rather silly, even if there are reasonable historical reasons.)

        Ha - don't forget, we're so used to the words used in Computer Science - bit, byte, aborting child processes, core dump -

        they are funny in their own right.

        Most of us just don't hear these words "charm" "strange" and so on used in the context that particle physicists so we think them ... strange.

        (I wouldn't even mention those pesky chemists with their degenerate orbitals and HOMO - LUMO levels, capitalization scheme of pH...)

  • is how not having strange quarks is the strange issue...

    Hum.. strange

  • Misleading summary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MikTheUser (761482) on Friday March 05, 2010 @12:28PM (#31372842)

    Hypernuclei with negative strangeness haven't been "created for the first time". They've been produced in RHIC collisions for as long as they've been running (with sufficient energy), and it's only now that we've been able to see them.

    That, however, is quite the accomplishment, as relativistic heavy ions collisions are so complex that we're hardly begun to understand what happens in them. Think a two-hundred-truck collision at 1,000 mph, and you're interested in what screw came from which truck and how the drivers' shoes were tied.

    [No truck drivers were hurt in the writing of this comment!]

  • by glwtta (532858) on Friday March 05, 2010 @12:36PM (#31372952) Homepage
    Particle physicists have basically been fucking with us for years, haven't they?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by svtdragon (917476)
      You're just figuring this out now?

      These are the same people who measure area in barns, sheds, and outhouses [wikipedia.org]. 1 square foot = 9.290304 × 10^26 barns. Or 9.290304 × 10^32 outhouses.
      • He shits you not!

        Shed and outhouse are uncommon these days, but only a year back, I calculated stuff in femtobarns in my exam of Particle Physics.

    • All the funding goes towards supporting quantum physics and other derivatives of round earth theories! The Roundies are corrupting the government and controlling your mind! I can find dozens of economists, statisticians and marine biologiests who'll support me on this!

  • Honest question? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AP31R0N (723649) on Friday March 05, 2010 @12:46PM (#31373082)

    Is anti-matter matter? Could we build stuff out of it?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by maxwell demon (590494)

      Anti-matter is matter which has exactly the opposite properties from normal matter (e.g. the proton has positive charge, the antiproton has negative charge). In principle you could build stuff out of it; the problem is that in our matter world that stuff would immediately annihilate with all that matter around. Well, and that we just don't have enough antimatter to begin with :-)

      • by AP31R0N (723649)

        Ah, so you'd need a way to isolate it from... everything.

        +1 Informative

      • by Khashishi (775369)

        More specifically, antimatter has opposite charge and opposite color, but it has the same mass, energy, and gravity (generally believed, but very hard to test). Not sure what other properties exist. The amplitude of the spin is the same, but the direction can vary.

    • Re:Honest question? (Score:4, Informative)

      by sdpuppy (898535) on Friday March 05, 2010 @02:01PM (#31374076)

      Is anti-matter matter? Could we build stuff out of it?

      Consider:

      The theoretical macroscopic properties of antimatter are the same as matter. Interaction with light, gravity, the fundamental forces, entropy would be all the same.

      If you had a world made of anti matter, everything should work the same.

      All electrical charges would be reversed - anti electrons (positrons) are positive charge.

      Anti Protons are negative charge.

      From a distance you would not know that world was made of antimatter, since properties would be the same. Electromagnetic wavelengths absorbed / emitted would be the same. Anti-Sodium would have the same yellow emission line as Sodium.

      However we have not observed antimatter besides as particles. Besides anti-hydrogen, no other anti-atoms (let alone anti-molecules) have been produced or discovered.

      Now building something made of antimatter in a matter world would be quite difficult - close proximity of a positron to an electron and you have neither particle, just a very energetic photons flying away. Any particle coming into proximity of its anti-particle results in annihilation (complete conversion of the masses of the particles to energy).

      Now if Fred meets anti-Fred (ignoring air) they explode not because macroscopic Fred sees his anti-self (no matter how many time you watch that Star Trek episode, it's not true) - it is because Fred is made up or protons, neutrons and electrons and anti-Fred is made up of positrons, anti-protons and anti-neutrons and those little guys go boom.

      How to handle such material that you cannot even get near - and "building" something means manipulating atoms, molecules - uncharged?

      • by AP31R0N (723649)

        Could tossing an anti-proton at a nucleus of mercury negate on proton to turn it into gold? i'm guessing "DOES NOT WORK THAT WAY".

        If we could create anti-matter safely and reliably... seems like it could make for an efficient sort of nuclear reactor. Instead of getting isotopes you'd be unravelling the nuclear bonds.

        Fun stuff.

        • Would possibly work, but one anti-proton would be more expensive than a huge amount of gold atoms. "Huge" as in "of the order of 10^23 (1e23, or 100 000 000 000 000 000 000 000) or more".

          A huge anti-proton "factory" works at Fermilab. It contains more antiprotons in a given instant than all those who were ever created by men anywhere else in this planet. Its current record is about 5*10^12 (5e12, or 5 000 000 000 000) antiprotons. Sounds huge? Well, you'd need about 10^11 times more antiprotons just to conv

          • by AP31R0N (723649)

            Fascintating.

            Heh. So what we need is a trade route to the anti-matter universe (that won't annihilate both).

      • by mbstone (457308)

        If you had a world made of anti matter, everything should work the same.

        All electrical charges would be reversed - anti electrons (positrons) are positive charge.

        Except all your diodes and batteries would have to be put in backwards.

        • by Chris Burke (6130)

          But at least all the signs on my current vectors would be pointing the right way!

        • by sdpuppy (898535)

          All electrical charges would be reversed - anti electrons (positrons) are positive charge. Except all your diodes and batteries would have to be put in backwards.

          Ha ha. But just in case someone has a "whoosh" moment to your post, converting to antimatter nothing changes - the polarity of batteries would be reversed as well - "flow" of electricity would be caused by movements of positrons rather than electrons.

          Diodes would not have to be reversed, since the polarity of holes and charge carriers would be reversed as well.

          Everything on the macroscopic to microscopic level would be the same - until something comes in contact with matter and the party's over.

          (Alth

      • by IICV (652597)

        From a distance you would not know that world was made of antimatter, since properties would be the same. Electromagnetic wavelengths absorbed / emitted would be the same. Anti-Sodium would have the same yellow emission line as Sodium.

        Although I believe this is true, we are pretty sure that the observable universe contains a lot of matter and almost no anti-matter. Unfortunately I can't seem to find anything on how we tell them apart at the moment; it's probably something more exotic than emissions spectra

        • by sdpuppy (898535)

          Unfortunately I can't seem to find anything on how we tell them apart at the moment; it's probably something more exotic than emissions spectra - I would assume that anti-matter generates different EM radiation or something due to its different charge characteristics, but I don't know.

          Charge is the same - just sign flipped.

          Quantum number flipped.

          Mass, forces - everything else works the same.

          Spacing of orbitals in anti-atom and anti-molecules the same - so same EM radiation.

          The only way to tell is to interact with it - throw a rock at it and see if it goes boom - but at a distance it looks the same no way to measure the difference unless you can measure kaon particle decay.

          Only difference if you interchange matter with antimatter - Symmetry Parity for kaon particle decay.

          see: htt [wikipedia.org]

          • by IICV (652597)

            And yet the Wikipedia article on Antimatter [wikipedia.org] says,

            Almost all matter observable from the Earth seems to be made of matter rather than antimatter.

            So clearly we seem to have some way of discerning between matter and antimatter. From some more research [nasa.gov], this result seems to come from the fact that we know what matter/antimatter annihilation looks like, and almost nothing we see in the cosmos looks like that (there's apparently a lot of it near the center of the galaxy, due to the intense gravity doing something-

            • by sdpuppy (898535)
              Yes - unless there is something causing total isolation (such as remoteness), if there are regions of antimatter in the universe, we should see fronts of energy between the matter and antimatter regions as particles meet and annihilate. (think analogous to solar wind - particles leaving galaxies and meeting up wit matter)

              That would be the only evidence AFAIK.

      • by Fëanáro (130986)

        The theoretical macroscopic properties of antimatter are the same as matter. Interaction with light, gravity, the fundamental forces, entropy would be all the same.

        If you had a world made of anti matter, everything should work the same.

        Well, almost. There is a slight asymmetry between normal matter and antimatter in relation to the weak force, so you could at least tell the difference by carefull observation.
        Or these small differences might result in vast changes in the world.

        see http://en.wikipedia.org/wik [wikipedia.org]

  • I mean how will the Sorcerer Supreme combat such a thing?
  • by MikeURL (890801)
    Interestingly this is what the pseudo-science of the movie 2012 was loosely based on. Considering that the movie came out before this discovery that is pretty impressive. No I'm not saying this is exactly what the movie said was happening but it is eerily similar. In the movie the crust of the earth is heating because the sun is emitting a new type of neutrino.
  • The Guardian reporter is hopelessly clueless:

    But international boffins analysing the RHIC gold-buster results have now discovered a an anti-deuterium nucleus containing an antiproton, an antineutron - and, gobsmackingly - an "anti-strange" quark.

    The quark is not in addition to the antiproton & antineutron - it replaces an up or down quark in the antiproton or antineutron.

  • no surprise (Score:3, Informative)

    by Khashishi (775369) on Friday March 05, 2010 @04:50PM (#31376044) Journal

    Essentially, after you get by all the silly nomenclature, (negative strangeness hypernuclei? are you serious?), all it is is confirming what we already knew. For any matter particle, there is a corresponding antimatter particle.

  • by elnyka (803306)
    I have no fucking clue what all of this means, but I still find it fascinating! Ohhh, uber-cool particle thingies! Shiniiieee!

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