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Wayne State Physicists Find Tiny Quarks Are Charming Socialites

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This Wayne State University graphics shows a quark decaying into a particle and an antiparticle.

This Wayne State University graphics shows a quark decaying into a particle and an antiparticle.

(credit: istock) Technology Report
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DETROIT (WWJ) – Protons and neutrons, the particles in an atomic nucleus, are made of smaller pieces called quarks. And some types of quarks can form particles that exhibit surprising behaviors — and a new surprise has been found by researchers at Wayne State University in Detroit.

Mark Mattson, assistant professor-research, and Paul Karchin, professor, from Wayne State’s Department of Physics and Astronomy in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, led a large collaborative effort of physicists at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois reporting a bizarre “social” behavior of particles containing “charm” quarks: an observation of “charm mixing.” The result was published in the scholarly journal Physical Review Letters.

Since the discovery of the charm quark in 1974, physicists have postulated a rare process in which a charm particle spontaneously changes into its antiparticle. Evidence for this unique behavior was uncovered more than three decades later by experiments in the United States and Japan. However, conclusive observation did not emerge until this year from the CERN laboratory in Switzerland and Fermilab in the U.S.

Mattson and Karchin worked closely with team co-leaders from Fermilab and the University of Siena in Italy. Robert Harr and Alexey Petrov, professors of physics and astronomy at Wayne State, served as team advisors.

The charm mixing that has been observed could be due solely to known elementary particles but may also indicate the presence of previously undiscovered particles and force carriers. Future measurements with improved precision and refined theoretical interpretation may disclose why particle matter in the universe overwhelmingly dominates over antimatter.

More at http://www.research.wayne.edu.

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