Mysterious size of proton suggests existence of a new particle




Mysterious size of the proton suggests the existence of a new particle

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Niels Bohr model of the atom through the eyes of an artist.

As St. Augustine said, “I know that this time is not really think about it.” About the same physics have to say on the size of the proton, which has long been well known. However, the new measure does not correspond to the size of a proton old. And then zavertyatsya …

The role of a successful driver’s nose elementary particles passed from hand to hand. Not so long ago, the Higgs boson began fooling physicists , as on April 13 at a meeting of the American Physical community, scientists have concluded that they do not have enough data to explain why the new measuring the size of a proton not agree with the old.

“The difference is quite impressive,” – said Randolph Paul, a scientist at the Institute for Quantum Optics at the Max Planck. When asked how he speaks not only Paul, but also to his colleagues, there are two answers: boring – someone made a mistake in the measurements, and fun – which give rise to new theories in physics.

Incredible proton

Proton – is a positively charged particle, part of the nucleus of the atom building block of all that you know. Over the years, measurements have shown that the radius of the proton is 0.8768 femtometra (femtomer – is one millionth of a billionth of a meter).

However, the new method of measurements in 2009 gave a different result: 0.84087 femtometra, a difference of 4%.

In previous measurements to determine the radius of the proton used electrons, negatively charged particles that orbit the nucleus in a cloud. To make a measurement with electrons, scientists need to do one of two things. First, you can shoot electrons into a proton and figure out how to get reflected electrons. This method of electron scattering gives an idea of ​​the amount of positively charged proton.

Another option – to make the electron move. Electrons orbit around the nucleus of an atom, where it hides a proton, at different levels, which are called orbitals. They can jump from one orbital to another, increasing or decreasing their energy, at which time the electron will emit or receive an elementary particle of light called a photon. The amount of energy required to move an electron from one orbital to another, and the physicists tell what the size of the proton.

Paul and his colleagues did not use electrons to measure the proton. Instead, they are connected to another case negatively charged particle called a muon. Muon 200 times heavier than electrons, so its orbit relative to the proton is 200 times closer. This weight makes it easier for scientists predict what the muon orbital shifts, and therefore more accurately know the size of the proton.

“Muon closer to the proton, and it is better to be seen,” – says Paul.

Possible explanations

These measurements using sensitive muons and physicists have provided unexpected results. Quite unexpectedly. Now physicists are trying to explain the discrepancies.

The simplest explanation may be the elementary error in the calculations. About the same physics goof when discovered that neutrinos can move faster than the speed of light. Paul says that “boring explanation” most likely, but not all physicists agree with him.

“I can not say that the error has crept into the experiment,” – says physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Yang Bernauer.

He also does not deny that the measurements were carried out using electron many times, and that if the muon experiment error crept in and it was conducted properly, the results are, of course, will be void.

But if the “experiment innocent”, there may be errors in the calculations, which means “we know what’s going on, just feel wrong,” said Bernauer.

The most exciting may be that the discrepancy will initiate a new physics that is not explained by the Standard Model and order all tired , but still works correctly. Perhaps something of physics do not know how to muons and electrons interact with other particles. So says John Arrington, a physicist at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois.

Perhaps photons – not only particles that carry the force between the particles, and in the case entered a hitherto unknown particles, which gave rise to strange results in the measurement of the proton.
What’s next?

To find out what’s going on, launching a series of physics experiments in different laboratories. One of the main areas of research will be testing the electron scattering, to make sure it is working properly and not to seek a no-fault guilty muon.

Another object – with the scattering experiments, but instead of electrons to bombard the muons will be used. This project is called MuSE (Muon Scattering Experiment, or muon scattering experiment) will take place in the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland. There is everything necessary for the installation of high-precision experiments, moreover, there will be an opportunity to electron and muon scattering in a single experiment.

“Hopefully, we can for the second time to repeat the results of the first experiment,” – says Arrington. – “If the discrepancy remains, we look into the same box and see if there is a certain dependence on the location of the experiment, electrons or muons and treat us to something new?”.

Data collection will begin in the 2015-2016 year. Arrington said that the question of the size of a proton while will be in limbo.

“It’s not that simple. We hope to update it at least 10 years old, but it’s optimistic projections. ”

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Tags: Higgs boson , Proton , the Standard Model .


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