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RHIC Finds Symmetry Transformations In Quark Soup

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 4 years ago | from the better-than-mom's dept.

Science 140

eldavojohn writes "Today scientists at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) in Brookhaven National Laboratory revealed new observations after creating a 'quark soup' that revealed hints of profound symmetry transformations when collisions create conditions in which temperatures reach four trillion degrees Celsius. A researcher explains the implications, 'RHIC's collisions of heavy nuclei at nearly light speed are designed to re-create, on a tiny scale, the conditions of the early universe. These new results thus suggest that RHIC may have a unique opportunity to test in the laboratory some crucial features of symmetry-altering bubbles speculated to have played important roles in the evolution of the infant universe.' These new findings hint at violations of mirror symmetry or parity by witnessing asymmetric charge separation in these collisions."

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140 comments

Delicious (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31146294)

Delicious first post soup

Re:Delicious (4, Funny)

courteaudotbiz (1191083) | more than 4 years ago | (#31146330)

But at 4 trillion degrees Celcius, isn't it a bit hot?

Re:Delicious (3, Funny)

algormortis (1422619) | more than 4 years ago | (#31146552)

4 trillion Celsius refers to the collisions, not the temperature of the collider. At that small scale, it's not exactly "hot". Now if it were 4,000,000,000,273 Kelvin, then THAT would be hot.

Re:Delicious (1)

Khashishi (775369) | more than 4 years ago | (#31147434)

I can't figure out if you are trying to make a joke or something, but those two values are the same, and they are both very, very hot.

Re:Delicious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31149240)

I can't figure out if you are trying to make a joke or something, but those two values are the same, and they are both very, very hot.

woosh

Re:Delicious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31147266)

Just think of all the law suits. This soup is an accident waiting to happen for very short time intervals in McDonald's near you.

Re:Delicious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31147334)

blow on it a couple of times before you taste it.

Re:Delicious (1)

martas (1439879) | more than 4 years ago | (#31147534)

mmmm, quark soup... [drools]

Re:Delicious (1)

u17 (1730558) | more than 4 years ago | (#31149800)

Maybe they meant 4 trillion Kelvin, that would explain it all!

Obligatory... (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 4 years ago | (#31146696)

And which one of you wanted the clean glass?

Waiter! (2, Funny)

rolandog (834340) | more than 4 years ago | (#31147278)

There is or there isn't a hair in my quantum soup!

Re:Waiter! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31147518)

actually it must be there is and there isn't a hair in my quantum soup!

Re:Waiter! (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#31149624)

It's not a hair. It's a string.

Well, duh (2, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#31146318)

Everyone knows that there is a slight asymmetry tending towards particles rather than anti-particles. It's common sense. It's the reason why the universe exists as matter rather thant antimatter.

You totally miss the point (3, Insightful)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 4 years ago | (#31146446)

Yes but they do not know why, and research such as this may help reveal something about that.

We've known you need air to live for millenia and some short sighted folk back then probably said 'duh' too. Others tried to find out why. Now we know why. Are we better off not knowing?

Re:You totally miss the point (1)

nextekcarl (1402899) | more than 4 years ago | (#31146824)

According to Arkham's Razor, we might be.

Arkham's Razor: A theory which suggests that the simplest explanation tends to lead to Cthulhu. I wish I could take credit for coming up with that one, but I can't.

Re:You totally miss the point (1)

martas (1439879) | more than 4 years ago | (#31147582)

sounds more like a guillotine to me...

better off knowing? (1)

Gary W. Longsine (124661) | more than 4 years ago | (#31148550)

That depends. Finding out why we need air to breathe didn't entail the possibility of ripping a hole in the space time continuum, with dire consequences for the solar system, the galaxy, and possibly the local universe. My money is on a certain percentage of Gamma Ray Bursters [molvray.com] being the signature of an advancing civilization snuffing out its first really high energy particle accelerator, and its planet, and that the effects are localized to the vaporization of the planet or solar system. Since we're conducting our experiments on Earth, it's unlikely that I'll be able to collect, should any of you take up this bet.

Re:Well, duh (4, Insightful)

hansraj (458504) | more than 4 years ago | (#31146458)

Clearly we should abandon all science and just go with whatever our common sense tells us.

Is symmetry breaking fundamental to the conditions in early universe, or is it just that we don't have big chunk of anti-matter nearby?

If it is indeed fundamental, what causes it? You have a bunch of theories predicting that it is fundamental but the mechanisms of each theory are ever so slightly different. How are we supposed to test which ones are wrong if we don't go about doing these experiments?

Those were just two questions off the top of my head. I am sure there are others.

Maybe you were just going for funny mods but every time there is a story about fundamental physics someone jumps in to say that it is pointless.

Re:Well, duh (2, Insightful)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 4 years ago | (#31148002)

I think the idea that we just don't have a big chunk of anti-matter nearby has been pretty much ruled out. If there were big chunks of anti-matter somewhere in the universe, then there would be border areas where they meet big chunks of regular matter and that should be very easy to spot.

Re:Well, duh (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#31148284)

If there were big chunks of anti-matter somewhere in the universe, then there would be border areas where they meet big chunks of regular matter and that should be very easy to spot.

Unless the border region were beyond our horizon of observation.

Re:Well, duh (3, Funny)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 4 years ago | (#31146604)

How do we know that we aren't the anti-matter and that what we think is anti-matter is really matter? Not so common sense, is it?

Re:Well, duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31146760)

How do we know that we aren't the anti-matter and that what we think is anti-matter is really matter? Not so common sense, is it?

It really doesn't matter. Just the same way that labelling negative charge as positive and vice versa doesn't affect anything.

Re:Well, duh (1)

JohnFluxx (413620) | more than 4 years ago | (#31146918)

Uh, if there's a broken symmetry then it does matter.

Re:Well, duh (2, Insightful)

KarrdeSW (996917) | more than 4 years ago | (#31147466)

matter

matter

matter

You're all overloading my brain with almost-puns... now I can't distinguish the funny posts from ones with valid points!

Re:Well, duh (1)

jitterman (987991) | more than 4 years ago | (#31149382)

Meh, it doesn't matter.

Re:Well, duh (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#31149724)

What's the matter?

Re:Well, duh (1)

History's Coming To (1059484) | more than 4 years ago | (#31146890)

Because we found matter first, probably because there's more of it and we're made of it. Semantics, linguistics, that's all...

Re:Well, duh (1)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 4 years ago | (#31146920)

but what about the anti-matter people? What if there are more of them? they could each touch one of us, destroy everyone, and they'd have more left over, so they'd win...

Re:Well, duh (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#31147256)

There doesn't seem to be enough anti-matter in the observable universe for that to be a problem, which is kinda the point of all of this. We're trying to sort out how exactly it is that matter, at least in the observable universe, outweighs antimatter by many orders of magnitude.

Re:Well, duh (1)

MartinSchou (1360093) | more than 4 years ago | (#31147442)

There doesn't seem to be enough anti-matter in the observable universe for that to be a problem

All of a sudden I had this really cool image of two galaxies colliding, one made of anti-matter the other of regular matter.

Biiiig badaboom!

Re:Well, duh (4, Funny)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 4 years ago | (#31147110)

How do we know that we aren't the anti-matter and that what we think is anti-matter is really matter?

We know because most of us are not wearing goatees.

Re:Well, duh (1)

martas (1439879) | more than 4 years ago | (#31147608)

so does that mean that if France came into contact with another country, there'd be a burst of gamma rays so intense that it would eventually wipe out half the galaxy?

Re:Well, duh (2, Funny)

SteveFoerster (136027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31149782)

Historically, it just tends to wipe out France.

Re:Well, duh (1)

lennier (44736) | more than 4 years ago | (#31149544)

How do we know that we aren't the anti-matter and that what we think is anti-matter is really matter?

We know because most of us are not wearing goatees.

Speak for yourself. *I* come from the planet which worked out how to kill millions of people in a neat airdroppable package.

Isn't that what the Apollo plaque says? "Here men from the planet Earth first set foot on the Moon... we came to bring terror to all the galaxy. Muhahahaha!"

Re:Well, duh (1)

Americium (1343605) | more than 4 years ago | (#31147718)

It's irrelevant if you call us matter or anti-matter. We have defined matter as the stuff we are made out of, and anti-matter, it's opposite that we don't find any of.

We look all around the universe and only see matter, i.e. all the stars, planets, gas, and blackholes that we see are made out of matter. If there was even a little bit of anti-matter it would annihilate with interstellar or intergalactic gas immediately. It's incredibly hard to create lasting quantities of anti-matter, since you have to keep it suspended in a vacuum, making sure that no matter touches it.

According to the standard model, when the big bang occurred equal amounts of matter and anti-matter should have been created. This would lead to all the matter and anti-matter annihilating and no matter existing in the universe at all. Obviously this didn't happen, so the model is incomplete. To explain the dominance of matter requires symmetry breaking, either in the creation or annihilation of matter/anti-matter. But there are lots of possibilities, it could be a major break in symmetry that hasn't been discovered but can be found out using CERN or this acceleator, or something very much harder to discover - perhaps the symmetry only breaks in a single possibility of certain particle interactions at extremely high energies, so high you need the energy of an entire galaxy to power your particle accelerator.

Re:Well, duh (1)

Warbothong (905464) | more than 4 years ago | (#31148156)

How do we know that we aren't the anti-matter and that what we think is anti-matter is really matter? Not so common sense, is it?

Erm... Because we invented the arbitrary labels "matter" and "anti-matter", and they have little to do with the Universe and much more to do with our internal thinking apparatus and the ways we interface them with each other (talking, writing, etc.)...

Re:Well, duh (1)

mhajicek (1582795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31146990)

Unless they got it backwards and what we call matter is really antimatter... (sarcasm)

Re:Well, duh (1)

Ragzouken (943900) | more than 4 years ago | (#31147232)

If the universe existed as antimatter that would indicate the same asymmetry.

Re:Well, duh (For sure No Anti-matter) (1)

Script Cat (832717) | more than 4 years ago | (#31147982)

How do we know other galaxies and stars are not anti-matter. It's not like we can touch them and find out.
Would it not be likely that thermal explosions could have sorted the two into far flung clumps in the early days of the universe.
Interactions might not be observed if all of the clumps are already flying away from each other.

Re:Well, duh (For sure No Anti-matter) (4, Insightful)

amorsen (7485) | more than 4 years ago | (#31148494)

Galaxies collide a lot. You'd expect at least one of the collisions which we can observe to be antimatter-matter, but it hasn't happened. And it would be REALLY easy to tell if it did.

Re:Well, duh (For sure No Anti-matter) (1)

cowboy76Spain (815442) | more than 4 years ago | (#31149910)

I think it may be no so obvious... think of it, galaxies that collide are probably from the same local group, so that we don't see matter/anti-matter collisions shouldn't be strange.

I'll put a car analogy (in fact, the only reason of this post is to put the analogy): you are in Berlin a send a group of electric cars in a journey to Lisbon, and a group of diesel cars in a journey from Lisbon (and you go with them). Then you analize the crashes that happened in the journey, and since there are no signs of a collision of a electric car with a diesel car, you tell that all the cars were of the same type, and since yourself own a diesel car, you conclude that all cars were diesel.

Of course, not much of an scientific argument as a pointer to a logical weak point in your arguments...

Re:Well, duh (1)

lennier (44736) | more than 4 years ago | (#31148464)

Everyone knows that there is a slight asymmetry tending towards particles rather than anti-particles. It's common sense. It's the reason why the universe exists as matter rather thant antimatter.

Do we? I thought maybe they were exactly equal, and there'd been a huge bang when matter and antimatter annihilated themselves and we were a tiny local cluster of matter bits which got missed.

Re:Well, duh (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#31149754)

Everyone knows that there is a slight asymmetry tending towards particles rather than anti-particles. It's common sense. It's the reason why the universe exists as matter rather thant antimatter.

Do we? I thought maybe they were exactly equal, and there'd been a huge bang when matter and antimatter annihilated themselves and we were a tiny local cluster of matter bits which got missed.

And where's the corresponding antimatter gone?

Re:Well, duh (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#31149236)

So everyone speaks about LHC possibly creating earth-eating black holes, and then the people at RHIC break a fundamental symmetry, and nobody warned us. Surely they'll soon turn every matter in the surrounding into antimatter, ultimately annihilating the earth in a giant matter-antimatter explosion! STOP THEM! :-)

Laymen terms? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31146382)

Can I get a car analogy please?

Re:Laymen terms? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31146436)

'RHIC's collisions of heavy nuclei at nearly light speed are designed to re-create, on a tiny scale, the conditions of the early universe.

NTSB collisions of 18 wheelers at the speed of HWY 95 in North Carolina are designed to re-create, on a large scale, the conditions of the early universe.

Re:Laymen terms? (2, Funny)

Boronx (228853) | more than 4 years ago | (#31146454)

Imagine if two cars crashed together and their symmetry suddenly changed from bilateral to radial.

Re:Laymen terms? (1)

suomynonAyletamitlU (1618513) | more than 4 years ago | (#31146784)

You see, cars are actually made up of smaller pieces (I know, right? Science has advanced so far). But the funny thing is that you can take these "car parts" apart and get even more, smaller parts, especially when you use force. But the smaller the pieces get, the more we begin to wonder how it all ended up making a car in the first place.

That's why they're throwing really tiny minced-up bits of car at each other at really high speeds to see what happens.

Yeah, no, that analogy breaks down pretty quickly.

On the other side of the Universe.... (2, Funny)

CorporateSuit (1319461) | more than 4 years ago | (#31146414)

Some left-handed scientist just discovered that when puoS krauQ is cut through, it turns out symmetrical.

Re:On the other side of the Universe.... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31146550)

puoS krauQ

Qapla'!

Re:On the other side of the Universe.... (2, Funny)

EdZ (755139) | more than 4 years ago | (#31146608)

I read that as 'Soup Quark'. Undiscovered partner to the Crouton Quark?

New Daily Special at Quarks Bar: DS9 (1)

Orga (1720130) | more than 4 years ago | (#31146430)

That wily ferengi finally found some way to cook up Odo and serve him as a soup.

DS9 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31146448)

The owner of the bar that was selling the soup denied there was anything wrong with it.

Re:DS9 (1)

captjc (453680) | more than 4 years ago | (#31149830)

Rule of Acquisition #265: NO SOUP FOR YOU!

Can this thing make "strangelets"? (2, Insightful)

wisebabo (638845) | more than 4 years ago | (#31146456)

Any particle physicists out there who can tell (us) if this thing can make "strangelets"? I mean, I kinda buy the explanations of how the LHC won't make mini-black holes or if it does they will instantly "evaporate" but: 4 trillion degrees? Approximating the conditions not seen since the first billionth trillionth of a second (or something like that) of the big bang? And don't tell me that Nature regularly collides gold nuclei together in this fashion; they're not cosmic rays!

While we're at it, are "strangelets" (or strange matter) real, I mean are they a proven particle? (And if so, how did they prove their existence without supposedly creating any?) Anyway, if this thing does make (one) and the planet gets converted into a glob of it, hopefully it'll happen at the speed of light so we won't feel anything.

Also the phrase "symmetry-altering bubbles" when used in conjunction with the phrase "evolution of the infant UNIVERSE" makes me wonder just a little if they really want to be playing around with this stuff. At least I'm pretty sure that if a false vacuum bubble is created, it'll expand at the speed of light and we definitely won't feel a thing!

- I actually love science and physics and have full confidence in these guys. It's fun to be paranoid every now and then though.

Re:Can this thing make "strangelets"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31146630)

> While we're at it, are "strangelets" (or strange matter) real, I mean are they a proven particle?

The first six words of the Wikipedia article will tell you that.

The answer is "no(t yet)".

Re:Can this thing make "strangelets"? (4, Informative)

chrylis (262281) | more than 4 years ago | (#31147068)

I'm not currently a research physicist, but I'm a (prior) collaborator on the experiment in question.

No "strangelet" has ever been observed, and their behavior depends on certain parameters that are unknown... because they've never been observed. It's reasonable to guess at this point that the strangelet-eats-the-world scenario is probably bogus just due to the anthropic principle.

The concern over the eating-the-world scenario was allayed to physicists' satisfaction based on calculations about cosmic rays. The kinds of collisions that would produce strangelets happen constantly to the moon because of the lack of an atmosphere or magnetic field to shield it, and the moon's still there. Statistics suggest, therefore, that these particular concerns are unlikely to be realized.

Re:Can this thing make "strangelets"? (4, Funny)

lennier (44736) | more than 4 years ago | (#31149604)

The concern over the eating-the-world scenario was allayed to physicists' satisfaction based on calculations about cosmic rays. The kinds of collisions that would produce strangelets happen constantly to the moon because of the lack of an atmosphere or magnetic field to shield it, and the moon's still there. Statistics suggest, therefore, that these particular concerns are unlikely to be realized.

Or that the moon itself is part of the conspiracy! It got eaten by a giant strangelet millions of years ago and it's been watching us all this time. Pretending to be nothing more than a rock.

Think about it, people. How did we manage to fake the Apollo landings so easily? Because the moon was in on it!

Re:Can this thing make "strangelets"? (3, Informative)

mhajicek (1582795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31147160)

And don't tell me that Nature regularly collides gold nuclei together in this fashion; they're not cosmic rays!

Consider the particle collisions near the event horizon of a black hole; they're likely to occur at much higher energies.

"Energies at the Large Hadron Collider are likely to peak at 14 teraelectronvolts. In contrast, the energies around a black hole would theoretically be limitless, says West. However, you needn't go beyond the so-called "Planck energy" - the point at which our mathematical understanding of particle interactions, in particular gravity, breaks down at the quantum level. This energy is in the order of 1018 gigaelectronvolts - 100 trillion times more energetic than the LHC." - http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20327253.800-black-holes-are-the-ultimate-particle-smashers.html [newscientist.com]

This doesn't make sense. (1)

Elrac (314784) | more than 4 years ago | (#31149224)

  1. Energies at the Large Hadron Collider are likely to peak at 14 teraelectronvolts

  2. breaks down at the quantum level. This energy is in the order of 1018 gigaelectronvolts

  3. 100 trillion times more energetic than the LHC

If I convert all those frighteningly big numbers to scientific notation, I get:

  1. 1.40 E 13
  2. 1.02 E 12
  3. 1.00 E 14 * 1.40 E 13 = 1.4 E 27

The parent is saying that the LHC puts out about 10x as much energy as that at which we lose all idea of what's happening. He's also saying that 1.02 e 12 is 100 trillion times 1.4 E 13. Something is not right here. Anyone care to set him/me/us straight?

Re:This doesn't make sense. (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#31149816)

The 1018 GeV should obviously have been 10^18 GeV. Typical error doing cut&paste from text with <sup> tags.

Re:This doesn't make sense. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31149834)

Obviously a copypasta fail - no sup tag. You could just read the link the guy posted. 10^18 geV

Re:Can this thing make "strangelets"? (1)

Progman3K (515744) | more than 4 years ago | (#31148990)

if this thing does make (one) and the planet gets converted into a glob of it, hopefully it'll happen at the speed of light so we won't feel anything.

There are those who believe that if these accelerators ever do create the exotic matter we are looking for the universe will instantly be replaced by something strange and inexplicable.

There are those who believe this has already happened.

Big Deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31146472)

I did that yesterday in my basement using a toaster, a bathtub, some aluminum foil, and a microwave.

Pedantic (1)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 4 years ago | (#31146546)

"four trillion degrees Celsius"

When you're talking "trillions," there's really not much difference between degrees Celsius and kelvins. And all "four trillion degrees Celsius" means to the layman is "really fucking hot."

So... why not just "4 terakelvins?" Or is it exakelvins?

Re:Pedantic (1)

M8e (1008767) | more than 4 years ago | (#31146672)

So... why not just "4 terakelvins?" Or is it exakelvins?

Because that does not means "really fucking hot" for most people.

Terakelvin? Is that a terrorist organisation? Execute what?

Re:Pedantic (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 4 years ago | (#31146732)

As you point out, anyone who knows what a Kelvin is can easily do an accurate enough conversion. If the article did use Kelvin then everybody who doesn't know what a Kelvin is would be lost. Is that really hot? Cold? In the middle?

Re:Pedantic (1)

Anpheus (908711) | more than 4 years ago | (#31147688)

Well sure but it's a lot easier to say 4 trillion Celsius than "Four trillion two hundred seventy three point one five degrees Kelvin."

Too Many Kevins (5, Funny)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 4 years ago | (#31147202)

That's way too many Kevins!
But I guess it's better than having none at all.

My home town nearly went to zero Kevins back in 1978.

It was a particularly cold winter, and we were already down to 3 Kevins (due to their low popularity at the time).

Kevin Thomas had flown out to be with his son's family for a wedding and got stuck in Boston for a whole week due to the weather. 2 Kevins left.

Kevin Lemmer was rushed to the hospital during my shift. I still remember the call from the EMTs as the ambulance was rushing toward us. "It's Lemmer. He's in bad shape. Drove right into the fucking ditch." We called the time of death at 6:15 PM.

At 6:16, all eyes turned to room 2217. Kevin Spencer was 82 and on his death bed with leukemia. His family being Catholic, he had already been given his last writes. If he couldn't hold out until Kevin Thomas returned, we would be at zero Kevins. Sure, we had 4 perfectly healthy Calvins, but they're just not the same.

It was 7:15 when Carla Brooks and her husband James burst through the main entrance. "She's not due for 2 weeks!", James exclaimed. As the staff bustled around getting the Brookses settled, they exchanged darting glances with each other. This was their first child, and they wanted to keep the baby's sex a secret. Of course, in a small town, secrets don't get kept. Nearly all of the hospital staff new that the child about to rip open Mrs. Brooks was indeed a boy.

The delivery was routine, and Kevin Brooks was born healthy, if a tad underweight, at 10:52 PM. Kevin Spencer was pronounced dead at 10:54.

It was, as they say, a close one. Kevin Thomas arrived two days later, the weather having finally cleared up. To this day, we still rib him about it.

Cedar Falls is currently at 5 Kevins.

Re:Too Many Kevins (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31149464)

Your score may stay at zero, but I had fun reading this anyway!

Re:Pedantic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31147352)

Because to the layman, the SI prefixes are probably more confusing, and in the end, it's not really that temperature anyway. They're measuring energy, and expressing it as a temperature, because it's convenient for their use.

Re:Pedantic (3, Informative)

Khashishi (775369) | more than 4 years ago | (#31147586)

Usually, in high energy physics, temperature is given in units of electron volts. One electron volt ~= 11600 Kelvin.
So this would be written, 0.4 GeV. Which is still extremely hot.

Re:Pedantic (1)

el_gato_borracho (1218808) | more than 4 years ago | (#31148978)

Electron volts are a unit of energy, not temperature. Those two are different physical quantities. For example, a test tube of liquid and a bathtub of liquid can both be the same temperature, but the bathtub holds more heat energy just because its mass is larger.

Re:Pedantic (1)

Apple1415 (1384427) | more than 4 years ago | (#31149058)

Also known as the Kari Byron temperature.

Re:Pedantic (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31148712)

I find it baffling that you'd pick up on the (microscopic) difference between Celsius and Kelvin - but ignore the utterly meaningless term "trillion". Nobody in the sciences uses that word since it may or may not imply 9 or 12 or 15 (or whatever) zeros, depending on which part of the globe you happen you stand on.

Oh, and 0.4GeV is nothing - the cosmic-ray spectrum peaks around 1GeV and cosmic-ray events have been observed another 11 orders of magnitude beyond that. Google term: "Fly's Eye".

Relativism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31146600)

How come we can have an absolute cold, but not hot? 250,000 times hotter than the center of the sun doesn't sound too impressive considering that the sun isn't particularly hot as far as suns go. So what's the hottest where absolutely nothing can exist?

Re:Relativism (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 4 years ago | (#31146766)

A sort of light speed for heat? Interesting idea... Where are the armchair physicists when you need them?

Re:Relativism (1)

algormortis (1422619) | more than 4 years ago | (#31146840)

That can never happen. Heat refers to basically motion. If there is a lot of motion (i.e. energy/heat), then it is obviously hotter. A particle can "not move" only so much, and there can't be conditions in which a particle cannot exist, yet still be in motion.

Re:Relativism (1)

am 2k (217885) | more than 4 years ago | (#31149884)

Uh, following your argument, since there is a maximum speed a particle can only reach tangentially (the speed of light), so if motion = temperature, there has to be a maximum temperature as well.

Re:Relativism (5, Informative)

mrsquid0 (1335303) | more than 4 years ago | (#31147508)

The Planck temperature is the highest temperature that our current physics can work at. Temperatures higher than the Planck temperature require a theory of quantum gravity to understand. The Planck temperature is about 1.4e+32 kelvin. One day, when we have a working theory of quantum gravity, perhaps the maximum possible temperature will be higher, but until then this is the highest temperature that is possible assuming the laws of physics that we know about.

Re:Relativism (2, Interesting)

Jeng (926980) | more than 4 years ago | (#31147562)

Ok, so the guy above me here says that heat is motion.......ok, so the fastest that a particle can go is the speed of light and only photons go the speed of light....so whats the temperature of a photon?

I wonder how wrong I am.

Re:Relativism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31147678)

We can have absolute cold because that's when the particles are completely at rest i.e. they are not moving anymore. At this point it has no longer any kinetic energy. On the other hand there is no maximum to the kinetic energy a particle can have and thus no limit on the hotness.

Re:Relativism (1)

Khashishi (775369) | more than 4 years ago | (#31147732)

That depends on which definition of temperature you use. In thermodynamics, absolute hot would be negative 0 Kelvin. Absolute hot only exists for systems with limited number of energy states. When you add more energy, eventually you start to fill up the energy states and you can't add more energy. In this case, the temperature scale is pretty weird. Negative values of temperature are hotter (contain higher energy) than positive temperatures. When the system is at minimum energy, you are near absolute 0, then as you add energy, the temperature increases. When you pass 1/2 energy capacity or so, the temperature reading shoots off to infinity, wraps around to negative infinity, and rises towards 0. When you reach full energy capacity, you return almost to 0.

This is only for the case of a system with finite energy states. As far as we know, the universe has infinite energy states, so there is no maximum energy capacity and there are no negative temperatures. It just goes up, up, up.

Re:Relativism (1)

Khashishi (775369) | more than 4 years ago | (#31147756)

Some space quantization theories purport that there is a limit on energy density of the universe, but I don't think any of these are mainstream.

Re:Relativism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31149912)

So you're saying that temperature is internally coded as a 32 (or 64) bits signed integer which can overflow at exactly half , and wraparound ?
I suppose it's not just a nerd joke but this is actually how this works, if energy state = 1 bit. Would there be more direct relation between physics system and information theory ?

Old news (3, Funny)

algormortis (1422619) | more than 4 years ago | (#31146632)

Einstein already suggested something like this, however he never did any research since the soup wasn't kosher.

And religious conservatives (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 4 years ago | (#31146710)

thought biomedical researchers were "playing God".

Devil's advocate (1)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 4 years ago | (#31146816)

I really enjoy and believe in science. However... we're really playing with shit that we don't understand here; yeah, that's the nature of science, but this is different. Is "recreating conditions at the beginning of the universe" (yeah, I know it's somewhat of an analogy) on the only planet we have really the best idea?

I'm not saying it shouldn't be done, but have rational scientists even asked the question?

Re:Devil's advocate (1)

JohnFluxx (413620) | more than 4 years ago | (#31146952)

> I'm not saying it shouldn't be done, but have rational scientists even asked the question?

No, nobody has ever considered the safety. Since you are so brilliant and have just thought of it by yourself, you should quickly write them a letter and tell them. I'm sure they'll be appreciative.

Re:Devil's advocate (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#31147328)

Fear is the enemy of innovation and knowledge.

Re:Devil's advocate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31147424)

have rational scientists even asked the question?

Yes. And "rational scientists" should be considered a tautology. And there is no definitive answer to the question, because we have not done enough experiments to know.

But if this eases your mind: we're talking about colliding particles that are at most a femtometer in diameter (which is a millionth of a millionth of 1/25th inch). Even if there would be adverse effects from the collision, it is not very likely that the effects will be noticable at an arm's length distance.

Re:Devil's advocate (1)

pwfffff (1517213) | more than 4 years ago | (#31149096)

Yeah I mean what the hell are we gonna do if we end up with two universes? This one sucks enough as it is. If you're creating new universes clean this one up first plzkthx.

what a surprise, we need more money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31147054)

fcall me cynical, but it looks like a thin excuse for continued emploment

rom the article
"The discoveries at RHIC have led to compelling new questions in the field of quantum chromodynamics (QCD), the theory that describes the interactions of the smallest known components of the atomic nucleus. To probe these and other questions and conduct detailed studies of the plasma, Brookhaven physicists are planning to upgrade RHIC over the next few years to increase its collision rate and detector capabilities."

in other words, based on these prelimminary, not exactly repeated byothers, to be published (but they didn't say if it passed peer review) results,
GIVE US MORE MONEY
after all, its really important to know what happens at 4 trillion degrees.....

Re:what a surprise, we need more money (3, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#31147296)

I'm not calling you cynical. I'm calling you a navel-gazing moron. Maybe you don't give a shit, and all the power to you, but trying to sort out things like symmetry breaking has been a goal of scientists for long time. And before you go on about how it doesn't put food on the plate or any of that crap, without basic research, the odds over the long-term of producing new technologies will decrease. Knowing what happens at 4 trillion degrees may not have any practical application today, but then again, neither did Galileo's or Newton's work have a lot of practical applications at the time, and yet we'd live in a more ignorant and technologically limited world without them.

Re:what a surprise, we need more money (4, Funny)

mrsquid0 (1335303) | more than 4 years ago | (#31147558)

Isn't it cute when idiots try to act all clever?

Re:what a surprise, we need more money (2, Insightful)

Elrac (314784) | more than 4 years ago | (#31149264)

Not really, no.

Symmetry violations? (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 4 years ago | (#31147086)

No soup for you!

Quark-gluon plasma (3, Informative)

Rising Ape (1620461) | more than 4 years ago | (#31148656)

The Higgs mechanism is often talked about as the source of mass, but what's less well publicised is that it's the dynamics of QCD (the strong interaction) that are responsible for the majority of the mass of ordinary matter, by a similar mechanism. Essentially, the vacuum isn't empty because the empty state isn't the lowest energy state - that requires a non-zero Higgs field and a non-zero quark condensate (from QCD).

The consequences of this are that particles behave as though they have mass when fundamentally they don't - they just behave that way because of their interactions with the background fields. If you excite the system to a high enough temperature though, there's a phase transition to the "free" state in a manner crudely analogous to boiling of a liquid releasing the confinement of adjacent molecules so they behave freely. In the QCD case, this temperature is low enough to be probed by experiments (not so much the electroweak/Higgs case), so we get free, low-mass quarks.

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