New Clue to World's Tiniest Particles

September 4, 2006

Particle physicists around the world will be designing their next generation of billion-dollar experiments following new findings from a University of Adelaide-led research team. The Holy Grail of the world's particle physicists is to discover and describe new particles that make up the Universe's tiniest building blocks.

The University of Adelaide's Associate Professor Derek Leinweber, leading a team of international theoretical physicists, has established a new approach to precision calculations on the properties of subatomic particles.

The proton, one of the three main components of an atom, is known to consist of point-like particles called quarks, bound together by gluons. There are six different types of quarks and the most mysterious of these is the strange quark, which "boils up" inside the proton and then "simmers back out of existence".

The new finding, published recently in the prestigious international journal Physical Review Letters, is a precise calculation of the strange quark's distribution within the proton. The calculation predicts that the short-lived strange quarks display an unanticipated level of symmetry in their journey.

"Technically the strange quark contribution to the proton's charge distribution has proven elusive," said Dr Leinweber, who is Deputy Director of the University’s Special Research Centre for the Subatomic Structure of Matter. "At the University of Adelaide, working with physicists at the University of Edinburgh and the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility in the US, we've been able to calculate the strange contribution with unprecedented accuracy by applying a unique combination of cutting-edge numerical and analytical approaches.

"We have combined expertise in fundamental Lattice Simulations on supercomputers together with breakthrough techniques in Effective Field Theory calculations. These are two separate areas of physics which have been used together in a way that no-one else has thought of. It gives particular strength to the University of Adelaide's research in this area.

"There is a huge industry in particle physics with groups of researchers around the world making new measurements that could reveal physics beyond the standard model of the universe. Our result presents a huge challenge to experimental physicists in planning the next generation of experiments. Billions of dollars are going to be spent, based on this result."

Source: University of Adelaide

Explore further: 'Material universe' yields surprising new particle

Related Stories

'Material universe' yields surprising new particle

November 25, 2015

An international team of researchers has predicted the existence of a new type of particle called the type-II Weyl fermion in metallic materials. When subjected to a magnetic field, the materials containing the particle act ...

The art and beauty of general relativity

November 26, 2015

One hundred years ago this month, an obscure German physicist named Albert Einstein presented to the Prussian Academy of Science his General Theory of Relativity. Nothing prior had prepared scientists for such a radical re-envisioning ...

Quantum computer coding in silicon now possible

November 16, 2015

A team of Australian engineers has proven—with the highest score ever obtained—that a quantum version of computer code can be written, and manipulated, using two quantum bits in a silicon microchip. The advance removes ...

Recommended for you

Turbulence in bacterial cultures

November 30, 2015

Turbulent flows surround us, from complex cloud formations to rapidly flowing rivers. Populations of motile bacteria in liquid media can also exhibit patterns of collective motion that resemble turbulent flows, provided the ...

Test racetrack dipole magnet produces record 16 tesla field

November 30, 2015

A new world record has been broken by the CERN magnet group when their racetrack test magnet produced a 16.2 tesla (16.2T) peak field – nearly twice that produced by the current LHC dipoles and the highest ever for a dipole ...

CERN collides heavy nuclei at new record high energy

November 25, 2015

The world's most powerful accelerator, the 27 km long Large Hadron Collider (LHC) operating at CERN in Geneva established collisions between lead nuclei, this morning, at the highest energies ever. The LHC has been colliding ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.