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Matter, Anti-Matter, and a New Subatomic Particle?

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the those-quarky-particles dept.

Science 175

sciencehabit writes "Physicists may have finally figured out why the universe contains more matter than antimatter. The key lies in a flaw in the relationship between the two and a potentially new subatomic particle. 'Other researchers, however, say the results, published today in Nature, should be interpreted cautiously. It could all be an effect produced by run-of-the-mill particles'."

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Star Trekkin' Across the Universe (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22827122)

Anyone remember the particle-of-the-week on Star Trek? Yeah. Modern physics feels like that sometimes.

Re:Star Trekkin' Across the Universe (2, Funny)

evwah (954864) | more than 6 years ago | (#22827202)

you actually REMEMBER the particles-of-the-week?

my screen started spraying Nerdion particles at me when I read your comment

Re:Star Trekkin' Across the Universe (4, Funny)

jamesh (87723) | more than 6 years ago | (#22827206)

Yeah. Where are the particles we can actually use and relate to, like Bogons, Cluons, and Unobtaneons.

Re:Star Trekkin' Across the Universe (1, Insightful)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 6 years ago | (#22827208)

Except in real life, they don't really invent a new particle too often, they just make one up and name it after something dumb like themselves and hope at some point it's proven that it's real, which the majority of the time it's not. Seriously, any unexplained affect or experiment result or calculation that doesn't add up MUST be a particle according to some physicists. Which is funny cuz others claim it's all cuz of strings and string theory and others say it must be a fifth major force and the crazy liberal whackjobs say we're all in the matrix and this is just a computer simulation and other assorted lunacy. Just to keep it real, it's not a particle unless they actually find/make/detect one.

Re:Star Trekkin' Across the Universe (4, Insightful)

JohnFluxx (413620) | more than 6 years ago | (#22827474)

> Except in real life, they don't really invent a new particle too often, they just make one up and name it after something dumb like themselves and hope at some point it's proven that it's real, which the majority of the time it's not.

For example? Can you list some of these please?

Re:Star Trekkin' Across the Universe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22828686)

Here's one [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Star Trekkin' Across the Universe (1)

JohnFluxx (413620) | more than 6 years ago | (#22828748)

Most scientists expect to find the Higgs particle. In fact it will be a great surprise if it's not found.

Re:Star Trekkin' Across the Universe (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 6 years ago | (#22828726)

> Except in real life, they don't really invent a new particle too often, they just make one up and name it after something dumb like themselves and hope at some point it's proven that it's real, which the majority of the time it's not.

For example? Can you list some of these please?
I read a book called the Physics of Star Trek, it came out before TNG ended. The guy who wrote it said that they actually used terms circling throughout communities, albeit incorrectly at times. I remember he appreciated that they at least took a stab at it. That said, though, the poster you're replying to may have been referring to Cochrane. He was the fabled inventor of the warp drive and they used his name as a measure of energy, if I recall.

But ... that's vague, sorry folks. I don't remember much about that book, it was years ago when I read it, and that doesn't cover DS9, Voy, or Enterprise. I imagine if somebody put a little too much energy into it, they could probably find examples in both cases. The book itself, though, and the sequel that followed it was fun to read. Just don't leave it around for a chick to find. =)

Re:Star Trekkin' Across the Universe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22829284)

> I imagine if somebody put a little too much energy into it, ....

I may have only watched the first run of Star Trek, but even I know what happens when "someone puts a little too much energy into it"! Watch your language, youngun!

Re:Star Trekkin' Across the Universe (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22828930)

I think the Graviton is named after some guy named Gravy. And the s-particles are named after S-particus.

*cough*

Hey! (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 6 years ago | (#22829384)

I am Sparticus!!!

Re:Star Trekkin' Across the Universe (5, Insightful)

Gromius (677157) | more than 6 years ago | (#22828070)

I think thats a little harsh although has some grounding in reality. It is true that theoretically, there are many many theories out there which predict unobserved particles and one is invented almost every week. The Higgs for example, supersymmetry (SUSY) is another mainstream one. Simply put we have no idea whats going on except that the Standard Model seems to describe it amazingly well. However its incomplete, has many prob such as the baryon asymmetry one being discussed, then the many theories which try to solve these problems and all (or almost all) bring in new particles. This is the scientific method, we do an experiment, we note we dont full understand it and then we hypothesize a theory to explain it. We then test this theory to see if its correct and this is where most of the new theories fall down.

In particle physics right now, the problem is that we have a model, the Standard Model, which we know is incomplete (doesnt include gravity for a start) but it more or less explains every experimental result we've every produced (neutrino masses are argueably accommodated with some small extension). We lack experimental data to even give us a hint what might be beyond it and this has been the case for a long time. So theory has had nothing to do but invent crazy models and wait for the experimentalists to catch up (which we hope to do this year, it'll be exciting). Hence why you see a lot of crazy models around with zero experimental evidence supporting them.

The other problem is that we are all tired and sick of the Standard Model, we want to know whats beyond it so people really really want to find evidence of new physics beyond it. This means that people are quick to jump on small effects and claim its new physics which is probably where you are coming from. Usually they get shouted down by the rest of the quickly community but it does happen with alarming regularity (see pentaquarks, 160 GeV Higgs last year as two recent examples). Whats worse is that for something like the result in the article, its an indirect evidence in a QCD environment which basically means there are so many effects going on, this could easily be explained by the Standard Model. So basically nobody believes it for now. QCD is what binds mesons (such as the B+,B0) and baryons (such as the proton and neutron) together. Unfortunately, we cant solve it right now, except for high energies so often there are many effects which later turn out just because we make a mistake in our approximations in order to get a solution. Compare with the CDF Run I jet excess which later just turned out because QCD effects werent being taken into account. This is the reason that physicists wont believe anything which says new physics right now unless theres a clear unambiguous peak in a mass spectrum, ie make and detect a new particle in your detector. Now this could be genuine evidence but we've all been here before so I think the community takes the feeling that we'll wait for more supporting evidence and for people to offer up alternative explanations before we say its new physics.

Re:Star Trekkin' Across the Universe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22829542)

we hypothesize a theory to explain it
And do other people theory some laws?

Re:Star Trekkin' Across the Universe (1)

Gromius (677157) | more than 6 years ago | (#22829610)

okay fair enough, I hadnt had my morning cup of tea :)

Re:Star Trekkin' Across the Universe (1)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 6 years ago | (#22828386)

Except in real life, they don't really invent a new particle too often, they just make one up and name it after something dumb like themselves..

Ah, the famous Moron particle.

Re:Star Trekkin' Across the Universe (3, Funny)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 6 years ago | (#22827894)

According to Sturgeon's Law we just need to find the crap particle and got 90% solved.

Re:Star Trekkin' Across the Universe (1)

Rungi (1098221) | more than 6 years ago | (#22828548)

for Voyager, I believe it was the Omega Particle. (which was also the name of the classified order to destroy it.)

Re:Star Trekkin' Across the Universe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22828914)

ON THE STARSHIP ENTERPRISE...RUN BY CAPTAIN KIIIIRK!

It's alive Jim, but not as we know it, but not as we know it but not as we know it.

God i havent heard that in ages

Dark Matter? (1, Interesting)

TFer_Atvar (857303) | more than 6 years ago | (#22827126)

Where does dark matter fit into that cosmological view?

Re:Dark Matter? (2, Insightful)

Zymergy (803632) | more than 6 years ago | (#22827186)

I am no theoretical astrophysicist, but me thinks "Dark Matter" is the name of the current fad stop-gap physics widget which is necessary to balance out equations in their current hypotheses and models.

Doctors once thought that wellness and illness within the human body were caused by the balance between the body's four humors: Yellow Bile, Black Bile, Phlegm, and Blood.
Obviously, there is MUCH more to it than that. It is no different with this.
The actual answers to the universe and its mass-energy balances, origins, and "dark matter", etc.. are VERY likely to also NOT be so simple.

Does "Dark Matter" cease to be dark if you shine a light on it?

Re:Dark Matter? (4, Interesting)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 6 years ago | (#22827236)

IIRC dark matter is required to make the observed rotation of galaxies fit our current model. OTOH: When I was a kid in the 60's black holes were mathematical curiosities.

Re:Dark Matter? (1)

StarfishOne (756076) | more than 6 years ago | (#22827902)

You might find this interesting. Alternative, but interesting:

Thunderbolts of the Gods:
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=4773590301316220374 [google.com]

About mythology, but also about the electrical universe and plasma cosmology.

Re:Dark Matter? (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 6 years ago | (#22827986)

Sorry, but I think the EU stuff is bunk.

Re:Dark Matter? (3, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#22827242)

our grandchildren will probably look back 50 years from now and wonder how we could be so stupid.

Re:Dark Matter? (4, Funny)

JohnFluxx (413620) | more than 6 years ago | (#22827570)

Because we look back at Einstein and wonder how he could be so stupid to think quantum mechanics was wrong..

Re:Dark Matter? (1)

aca_broj_1 (1034904) | more than 6 years ago | (#22827636)

Or even because we look back at Newton and wonder how he could be so stupid, not to account for relativistic effects.

Re:Dark Matter? (2, Interesting)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 6 years ago | (#22828006)

Actually Newton gets a free pass, one of the two(?) assumptions he wrote down was "time is constant".

Re:Dark Matter? (2, Insightful)

vertinox (846076) | more than 6 years ago | (#22828630)

Because we look back at Einstein and wonder how he could be so stupid to think quantum mechanics was wrong..

I was thinking more on the lines of who we voted into office and our reality TV shows, but to each his own.

Re:Dark Matter? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22829082)

For pity's sake, Einstein did not think that "quantum mechanics was wrong". Einstein was one of the most significant developers of the theories of quantum mechanics. He didn't accept the (unproven, unprovable) hypothesis that there is no factor 'behind' the apparent randomness involved. You can accept 100% of quantum mechanics, accept the results of every experiment, do all the calculations, use it as working model for predictions etc. etc. while also believing that there is something more going on. And you can do all that without thinking that there is something more going on. Neither position involves thinking that "quantum mechanics was wrong".

Re:Dark Matter? (3, Insightful)

kestasjk (933987) | more than 6 years ago | (#22827654)

Implying modern day theoretical physicists are stupid probably isn't something you should do unless you know what you're talking about

Re:Dark Matter? (3, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#22829140)

From a sufficient distance it's easy to mistake ignorance for stupidity, and modern theoretical physicists are incredibly ignorant. The community as a whole has only been working seriously at the problem of understanding the universe for a hundred years or so - how could they possibly be anything else?

Re:Dark Matter? (5, Informative)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 6 years ago | (#22827266)

I am no theoretical astrophysicist, but me thinks "Dark Matter" is the name of the current fad stop-gap physics widget which is necessary to balance out equations in their current hypotheses and models.
yes, the concept of dark matter was conceived as a gap filler for a few observations- that the amount of mass in galaxies appeared to exceed the visible quantity by about 10x and that the velocity curves for stars orbiting in galaxies was all wrong. now we have additional observations of areas of very little visible matter but a noticeable gravitational bending of space. large masses warp space around them and light bends as well- we can observe this and when we see light bend where there isn't that much visible matter, we can actually map the dark matter its self. one region in particular contained a halo of dark matter that was wrenched away from the visible in the area.

Does "Dark Matter" cease to be dark if you shine a light on it?
it depends on what it is. if it is baryonic then yes, if it isn't like many of our models show, then maybe not.

Re:Dark Matter? (3, Informative)

starwed (735423) | more than 6 years ago | (#22827326)

I am no theoretical astrophysicist, but me thinks "Dark Matter" is the name of the current fad stop-gap physics widget which is necessary to balance out equations in their current hypotheses and models.
The dark matter model has actually made successful predictions. That makes it actual, real science, not just a "stop-gap" widget. From a paper of The Dark Matter Scientific Assessment Group:

...evidence from galactic rotation curves, gravitational lensing, hot gas in galactic clusters, precision measurements of the cosmic microwave background and measurements of large scale structure in the Universe all support the existence of dark matter in the Universe.

Re:Dark Matter? (3, Interesting)

Zymergy (803632) | more than 6 years ago | (#22827612)

I agree there is "something" out there that does have mass and therefore also has gravitational fields.
Since we can't currently *see it* I'll also agree that because it is currently not directly observable it is therefore "Dark" and made of "Matter".

My point is; that it to call it "Dark Matter" and to be done with it leaves things rather vague. Science rarely is so succinct and simple.

Black Hole material is also "Dark Matter" as it too cannot be directly observed.
Enough effects and gravity of the Black Holes' "Dark Matter" exists on the non-dark observable matter nearby to their hypothesized locations to convince scientists that Black Holes do exist (in addition to the math working out decently).
Stephen Hawking is THE MAN.

For all we know, the mysterious "Dark Matter" could really be just a very dense repository of all of the discarded fruitcakes from around the universe. We don't know.
Scientists have an idea about what "Dark Matter" might be, and likely SOME of that will be correct, but chances are that a majority of it will be wrong. It will actually turn out to be something more complicated than 'matter we just can't observe' so it is now therefore decreed to be henceforth called "Dark Matter".
I believe that atoms once were the smallest particles known, that changed. So will this. It may turn out to just be star ash, but Maybe not.
It could be thousands of things or types of matter, likely even stuff that is NOT dark.

If we can make a B2 bomber into "Dark Matter" from the POV of a man by using it's stealth features and electromagnetic radiation adsorbing coverings, maybe there's just plain ordinary matter out there that is rather cold and covered with some cosmic stealth paint.

The math says it exists and there is enough circumstantial evidence that "something" is there. I doubt it has some mystical properties that make it invisible. There are other dimensions in the universe that mathematics has proven exist, maybe being close or intersecting in some way with matter in those other dimensions is actually causing the "Dark Matter" effect.
I hope to live long enough to see "Dark Matter" become as archaic a term as the body's 4 humors are now from my original analogy.

Re:Dark Matter? (1)

novakyu (636495) | more than 6 years ago | (#22828140)

My point is; that it to call it "Dark Matter" and to be done with it leaves things rather vague. Science rarely is so succinct and simple.
You misunderstand. This is the way it happens in science. If you don't understand something, you give it a name.

At least that way, we know what we don't understand.

Re:Dark Matter? (2, Insightful)

Undead NDR (1252916) | more than 6 years ago | (#22828418)

My point is; that it to call it "Dark Matter" and to be done with it leaves things rather vague.


Fact is, in science you are never "done with it". So there's nothing wrong with a general classification like "dark matter", because you can take for granted that in the future it will be dissected into more specific kinds of matter.

Just as we first had "atoms" and then discovered sub-atomic particles.

Re:Dark Matter? (5, Informative)

PvtVoid (1252388) | more than 6 years ago | (#22829044)

For all we know, the mysterious "Dark Matter" could really be just a very dense repository of all of the discarded fruitcakes from around the universe.

No, it couldn't. One thing that is definitely known is that the dark matter is not made of regular atoms (baryonic matter). Baryonic matter is known to comprise no more than about four percent of the total density of stuff in the universe, versus about 25 percent for dark matter. If the universe were 25 percent baryonic, all sorts of measurements would come out differently than they do:

(1) The primordial abundance of elements, which is observed to be about 76 percent hydrogen and 24 percent helium and a trace of lithium, would be very different. See here [wikipedia.org]

(2) The signatures of acoustic oscillations in the Cosmic Micrwave Background would be much larger than they are observed to be. See here [wikipedia.org]

(3) Any extra baryons would show up in the hot gas between galaxies in large clusters, which is very accurately measured by X-ray satellites. See here [nasa.gov] .

(4) Dark matter consisting of small condensed objects like Jupiter-sized planets would show up in gravitational microlensing [wikipedia.org] surveys. They don't.

We don't know what dark matter is, but we sure as hell know what it's not, and it is not ordinary matter that just happens to be dark. There are multiple, independent lines of evidence which support this conclusion.

Re:Dark Matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22829116)

There are other dimensions in the universe that mathematics has proven exist
No, there are other dimensions in the universe that mathematics has suggested might exist. No dimensions beyond the four original dimensions have been proven to exist with any kind of experiment (the only way to prove something).

Re:Dark Matter? (1)

shess (31691) | more than 6 years ago | (#22827502)

I am no theoretical astrophysicist, but me thinks "Dark Matter" is the name of the current fad stop-gap physics widget which is necessary to balance out equations in their current hypotheses and models.

As was quantum mechanics at one point. The equations do want to balance, one way or the other. The thing that balances them is by definition strange and wonderful.

Doctors once thought that wellness and illness within the human body were caused by the balance between the body's four humors: Yellow Bile, Black Bile, Phlegm, and Blood.
Obviously, there is MUCH more to it than that. It is no different with this.
The actual answers to the universe and its mass-energy balances, origins, and "dark matter", etc.. are VERY likely to also NOT be so simple.


It would be pretty depressing if things were this "simple". I think a much more relevant example would be the ether. The humors of the body were imagined out of the whole cloth, with no experimental basis at all. The ether explained experimental results (light has wave-like properties, and waves propagate through a medium), except it was wrong.

Does "Dark Matter" cease to be dark if you shine a light on it?

Do electrons spin like a carousel?

Re:Dark Matter? (1)

edwardpickman (965122) | more than 6 years ago | (#22827672)

Does "Dark Matter" cease to be dark if you shine a light on it?

It's a particle so it just changes it's state to "Not So Dark Matter".

Re:Dark Matter? (1)

nicklott (533496) | more than 6 years ago | (#22827744)

As I recall it was mainly invented because galaxies spin a lot faster than we think they should. But in most of science if the observation doesn't match your theory, you change your theory, not the observation.

Experimental methods for confirming dark matter seem to have failed (WIMPS) so we're just left with observations that don't match our theory. Go figure.

Having said that, Dark matter is at least slightly more plausible than dark energy, and string theory makes them both look like fundamental tenets of physics (I still can't believe that so many otherwise bright people are allowed to waste their life, and good research grants, on something that is so clearly hokum).

Number Fudging, not only for tax fraud (3, Funny)

espiesp (1251084) | more than 6 years ago | (#22827128)

Does it ever seem as if they are fudging in new particles and forms matter to account for discrepancies in math or observation? Well, it IS tax season...

What would be really impressive.. (1)

LaskoVortex (1153471) | more than 6 years ago | (#22827132)

Is if they could figure out the reasons behind a similar type of disparity in the chirality of naturally occurring amino acids.

Re:What would be really impressive.. (2, Funny)

tabrnaker (741668) | more than 6 years ago | (#22827214)

I believe the kabbalists and yogis have already explained that.

Though i guess most physicists don't study jewish and/or indian spirituality.

Re:What would be really impressive.. (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 6 years ago | (#22827230)

F.Y.I the presence of certain amino acids such as glycine can affect the rate at which certain enantiomers of amino acids form- certain chemical synthesis reactions favor one product over another depending solely on the chirality of the catalyst used. zeolites may have even played a role in creating the disparity in chirality of the amino acids. proteins constructed from right handed amino acids work just as well on achiral substrates as the left handed ones do so that's probably not a factor in why we only see one chiral form dominating in biology- it's probably just a relic from 3.5 billion years ago when life first evolved.

Re:What would be really impressive.. (1)

lazy genes (741633) | more than 6 years ago | (#22827868)

I am not a scientist, I do enjoy the riddle of the protien folding problem. It seems to me that DNA RNA and amino acid chains are all double helix. In my model I made glycine pass through itself like a revolving door,I had to do this to explain prions refolding after they have been cut. Hmm,will glycine work the same in both forms? Life may be older than the earth. My model represents the quantum backbone of the amin acid chain so the double helix idea took a log time to figure out. I am still working on it. I may be wrong but it worth a try.

The obvious joke (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#22827140)

Matter, Antimatter and it doesn't matter. I knew it all along.

So. We now have the ancient joke out of the way, let's start the discussion.

Well if it does not matter (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#22827212)

then go ahead and mix a little of matter and antimatter together.

Re:Well if it does not matter (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#22827314)

Well, afterwards certainly nothing matters anymore.

QED.

A flaw? A FLAW? (2, Funny)

Jafafa Hots (580169) | more than 6 years ago | (#22827150)

A flaw in God's perfect creation?!?!

Re:A flaw? A FLAW? (3, Insightful)

sltd (1182933) | more than 6 years ago | (#22827282)

It isn't so much a flaw in creation, it's a flaw in how we try to explain it.

Re:A flaw? A FLAW? (1)

emeitner (513842) | more than 6 years ago | (#22829534)

The article says "The key lies in a slight flaw in the mirrorlike relationship between matter and antimatter. Dubbed charge-parity (CP) violation, the asymmetry was first seen in 1964 ..."

Since when was the universe supposed to be perfectly symmetrical? Why is asymmetry a flaw? These expectations of symmetry are funny coming from creatures with their circulatory pumps offset from their midline by a few inches.

Re:A flaw? A FLAW? (5, Funny)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 6 years ago | (#22827306)

well he's a programmer after all. the big bang was the beginning of the alpha, blackholes are memory leaks, spatial expansion is feature bloat and the disparity between matter and antimatter resulted because of a calculation error in Excel.

Re:A flaw? A FLAW? (1)

12357bd (686909) | more than 6 years ago | (#22828100)

No, it was because He used C++ and garbage collection. Guess what dark matter is, it will be a funny time when it will be collected!.

Re:A flaw? A FLAW? (3, Interesting)

glitch23 (557124) | more than 6 years ago | (#22827392)

A flaw in God's perfect creation?!?!

A flaw in our understanding of it. Quit making flames for the sake of making flames because there is no basis in the article for what you said. You'll look less stupid in the process.

Re:A flaw? A FLAW? (1)

dookiesan (600840) | more than 6 years ago | (#22827916)

If you filter out all but the informative posts, you may not have much left here. The parent is one of the more informative purely for calling someone an idiot and for having a subscription to Nature (right ?).

Re:A flaw? A FLAW? (1)

Jafafa Hots (580169) | more than 6 years ago | (#22828318)

It was not a flame, it was a joke. A deliberately silly joke. I may look stupid for making a silly statement as a joke, but not as stupid as you do for the silly statement in your sig made in complete seriousness.

Re:A flaw? A FLAW? (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 6 years ago | (#22829230)

It was not a flame, it was a joke.

I believe that, as a prerequisite to getting mod points, you have to prove that 1) you have no identifiable sense of humor and 2) that your sarcasm meter has been permanently fried. Funny mods are just randomly generated by slashcode.

Re:A flaw? A FLAW? (1)

snoopaloopa (1260430) | more than 6 years ago | (#22827454)

EXPELLED! No Intelligence Allowed.

Not a flaw...a design feature (3, Interesting)

Roger W Moore (538166) | more than 6 years ago | (#22827486)

Without this "flaw" matter and anti-matter would have cancelled out almost perfectly early on in the Big Bang leaving nowhere near enough matter (or anti-matter) to form galaxies or stars. So this "flaw" is what allows us to exist. I would not call it a flaw, but rather a design feature. Without breaking this symmetry the Universe would be a really boring place, in much the same way that a tree is more interesting than a cube even though the cube has far more symmetry.

Re:Not a flaw...a design feature (1)

ThreeGigs (239452) | more than 6 years ago | (#22827976)

leaving nowhere near enough matter (or anti-matter) to form galaxies or stars

Actually, matter + antimatter = energy.
Energy, if it's 'dense' enough (like what they're trying to accomplish in the LHC), will 'condense' to form matter or antimatter.

All that's needed is a very slight tendency toward that condensation to be biased for a universe full of one or the other after a big bang.

Think about the scenario:
Matter and antimatter start 'condensing' out of the early big bang. The newly formed particles collide and turn each other back into energy, which then re-condenses. If there was even a slight tendency toward matter, then through all the matter->energy->matter->energy->matter cycles, matter would tend to accumulate, while antimatter would become increasingly rare.

Or to put it slightly differently, 100% energy -> (51% matter + 49% antimatter) -> 2% matter + 98% energy -> 3.98% matter + 96.02% energy, etc. Any antimatter formed would wind up back as energy only to 're-condense' with a greater chance at being matter, again and again.

The 'flaw' might not even be needed. If it could be shown that the presence of matter near a high concentration of energy would affect the condensation of that energy in such a way as to bias it toward condensing into matter, as opposed to antimatter, that too would explain the preponderance of matter in the universe. The LHC might provide insights into this possibility, too.

Re:Not a flaw...a design feature (1)

wasted (94866) | more than 6 years ago | (#22827980)

Without this "flaw" matter and anti-matter would have cancelled out almost perfectly early on in the Big Bang leaving nowhere near enough matter (or anti-matter) to form galaxies or stars. So this "flaw" is what allows us to exist. I would not call it a flaw, but rather a design feature.

Microsoft Physics?

(sorry, couldn't pass that one up.)
 

Re:Not a flaw...a design feature (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22828458)

Without this "flaw" matter and anti-matter would have cancelled out almost perfectly early on in the Big Bang leaving nowhere near enough matter (or anti-matter) to form galaxies or stars. So this "flaw" is what allows us to exist. I would not call it a flaw, but rather a design feature.


Hi, God here, I just thought I would interject... I was having a really crappy day when I engineered the B-mesons, the Devil was prank-calling me (Caller-ID hadn't been invented yet), Cloud-9 had smashed into the Bodhi tree, and Quasars close to each other started to flash in sync which looked really stupid. So I messed up and the asymmetry happened... OK? There, I admit it, I messed up. Thanks for focusing on this one bad day I had billions of years ago and making me feel bad. Hmmm... where's my FAQ for floods....

Re:Not a flaw...a design feature (1)

KKlaus (1012919) | more than 6 years ago | (#22828712)

Does antimatter give off a different type of light? If not, how do we know the two types aren't simply segregated?

Re:Not a flaw...a design feature (1)

Medieval_Gnome (250212) | more than 6 years ago | (#22829564)

I believe the way this is known is based off the intergalactic gas. It's incredibly diffuse, but still exists. If there were to be a section of the universe with antimatter being the most prevalent, the intergalactic gas would be made of antimatter. Where the matter-based gas and the antimatter-based gas would meet there would be a violent amount of energy released from their mutual annihilation, which would be noticeable via observation.

Make mine a Lite please. (1)

Justabit (651314) | more than 6 years ago | (#22827152)

Ive always wondered, as there seems to be an opposite for everything in Physics, why we dont call it lite matter?

Will we? (2, Funny)

stevedmc (1065590) | more than 6 years ago | (#22827160)

When that much matter and antimatter are brought together... aye, that we will.

Biased? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22827218)

Why do we assume there is more positive matter than negative matter? It seems to me that we might have a bias here, considering we're made out of positive matter...

Re:Biased? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22827452)

Why do you assume they are assuming there is more matter than anti-matter? Physicists tend to make observation and measurements before saying such things.

Re:Biased? (1)

jlarocco (851450) | more than 6 years ago | (#22827802)

What makes you think we're made of positive matter?

Re:Biased? (2, Informative)

mcelrath (8027) | more than 6 years ago | (#22827810)

If there was antimatter floating in the universe we would see it via the annihilation of anti-matter with matter where they meet. In particular, an electron and positron annihilate into two gamma rays of a very specific energy, and we have space telescopes looking in that energy range. We just don't see them. You could postulate antimatter stars/galaxies, but their solar wind would run into other stars in the interstellar medium, and create these gamma rays along a boundary plane between them. We just don't see that. We've also put detectors in space looking for anti-protons (AMS). We do see some, but not very many. For more info, google "baryon asymmetry" which is the modern name of the anomaly, and is quite precisely measured.

-- Bob

Re:Biased? (2, Funny)

wasted (94866) | more than 6 years ago | (#22828020)

I think there is just more matter than anti-matter; the positive and negative charge pretty much balance. I think that means that I could be carrying a slight negative charge at the moment, but since I'm not a physicist, I'm not positive. (okay, that was weak...)

Run-of-the-mill particles? (4, Funny)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 6 years ago | (#22827414)

Would that be, um, flour? The universe is held together by flour?

(Thought I should attempt to reflect the Luddite perspective. Everybody else commenting on this post is being far too intelligent and rational.)

Duct Tape (1)

argent (18001) | more than 6 years ago | (#22829292)

The universe is held together by flour?

The universe is held together by Duct Tape. Except air conditioning ducts, because of the enormous quantities of Schrodinger particles emitted by shed cat hair. You need to use metallized tape to hold those together. Heavy-metallized if you have more than two cats.

Exceptionally Simply Theory of Everything (3, Interesting)

Bryan Ischo (893) | more than 6 years ago | (#22827436)

So did Garrett Lisi predict the new particles? Do they fit into the E8 algebra thing that his theory is based on?

Exceptionally SIMPLE (1)

Bryan Ischo (893) | more than 6 years ago | (#22827450)

Erm, sorry about the typo.

Re:Exceptionally Simply Theory of Everything (2, Interesting)

mcelrath (8027) | more than 6 years ago | (#22827726)

Garrett's theory does contain some new particles, which might be used to explain the effects described in TFA. What is required is new CP violation. I believe Garrett's theory contains higgs particles which could have CP violating interactions, but this is far from clear after re-reading his paper. As far as I know no one has done a detailed study using Garrett's theory. So far Garrett's paper has not been cited by any real particle physics (phenomenology) studies, so one cannot say for sure yet.

After seeing a talk this week at CERN on this subject, I'm fairly skeptical, and I think this effect will go away with more data (particularly from D0).

-- Bob

Re:Exceptionally Simply Theory of Everything (1)

Bryan Ischo (893) | more than 6 years ago | (#22827874)

You sound like you know what you're talking about. I'm a non-physicist who was intrigued by Lisi's paper, to the small extent that I understood it. I've been waiting to hear any kind of validation of it or further research in that direction, I even do a google search every couple of months to see what's up, but nothing seems to be forthcoming.

Was it really just a flash in the pan? Is there any hope that Lisi's theory will prove to have any relevence in modern physics?

Re:Exceptionally Simply Theory of Everything (5, Informative)

mcelrath (8027) | more than 6 years ago | (#22828000)

Very good question...

I do work on theoretical particle physics at CERN, so I would be the kind of person to take Garrett's paper and make predictions for colliders/astrophysics from it. (and hence, find methods to prove/disprove it) I'm not currently working on his theory, nor do I know of anyone who is. I only looked carefully at his paper when I posted the above comment (though I knew about it). I previously understood that he claimed the Standard Model was contained inside E8. If that is true then there are essentially no new predictions, just an interesting coincidence. However I see now that his theory is not the Standard Model, but a SU(2)xSU(2)xSU(4) Pati-Salam model. This implies several new particles that could be seen at the LHC. Garrett claims several things which are not totally justified and require some more calculations to find out (for instance...that the gauge groups unify).

The Pati-Salem model is well-studied (though not currently -- it was popular in the 80's). It is often known as a "leptoquark" theory. However I do not see in Garrett's paper the particle content necessary to make leptoquarks, nor the particles (higgses) to break the SU(2)xSU(2)xSU(4) to the Standard Model's U(1)xSU(2)xSU(3).

I think the problem is sociological. Garrett made a big splash in the gravity community, but I haven't heard a peep from any of my colleagues in particle physics. I will ask around at CERN next week. I know of no good reason why people are not studying it more carefully and making predictions (though, I'm sure Garrett is, but his background is gravity, not colliders).

Flash in the pan? Lots of stuff in the popular press is. For instance TFA is probably an effect of non-gaussian errors, but by making a splashy title they've gotten themselves a Science magazine article. Garrett got his flash partly because of his non-traditional lifestyle. Moral of the story is that the things that appear in the popular press are usually "hero" or "eureka!" stories. But science is full of neither heroes nor daily eureka's. I could complain further about the state of science reporting...

Keep in mind that there are literally hundreds of theories capable of explaining TFA (assuming it's not a statistical fluctuation), and you won't hear about them in the popular press because they're not sexy and hard to explain. For instance, a 4th generation of quarks or a complex higgs sector. Garrett's theory might be one of them, we don't know yet. We don't usually explain these theories to the public because explaining 100 different complicated theories, 99 of which must be wrong...is probably a waste of the public's time. Instead, we'll turn on the LHC this year, which will undoubtedly generate tons of popular articles, and hopefully at least one mostly-correct theory. ;)

-- Bob

Re:Exceptionally Simply Theory of Everything (2, Insightful)

Bryan Ischo (893) | more than 6 years ago | (#22828142)

Wow, that was a thoroughly awesome reply, I really appreciate it.

I only knew about Lisi's paper because it was posted on Slashdot; I do consider all of the lifestyle stuff to be completely superfluous and don't base my judgment on the paper on those things (however considering how sour the taste is in my mouth whenever I hear about string theory, the fact that he is very much outside the 'establishment' does have its appeal). Also there was some flack posted about his paper because it was titled 'An Exceptionally Simple Theory of Everything' which does clearly overstate its reach, but I forgive him because I have learned that the title was simply a tongue-in-cheek pun based on the mathematical names of the constructs he uses in forming his theory.

I really have tried hard to read and understand as much as I can about his theory, which is difficult when my formal education is in computer science and I know nothing of 'manifolds' and 'Higgs space' and the like. One thing reading his paper and the scientific community's online comments about it taught me is that advanced physics is communicated in terms that require quite a bit of background knowledge. Of course I kind of already suspected this but it's one thing to infer it, and another thing to experience it directly by trying to make sense of a paper when every sentence contains terminology whose meaning is assumed, and obvious to the target audience, but which is completely opaque to the uninitiated.

At any rate, what I have concluded, very non-scientifically, is that Lisi's paper is basically just a 'periodic table of elements' for fundamental particles. Kind of like how the chemical periodic table of elements organized atoms in ways that both explained known phenomena, and predicted new atoms with new properties, Lisi's paper gives a mathematical model that encompasses known particles and the forces by which they interact, and and by nature of the fact that the mathematical models in question also describe particles and forces which have not yet been observed, predicts new subatomic particles.

I also concluded after my layman research that while this is interesting, and perhaps might help point scientists in a new direction of research, it does not answer any fundamental questions of 'why' physics works the way it does. Of course, I have to wonder philosophically whether or not there really is an answer to 'why' things are the way they are, and if the best we can do is perhaps to describe 'how' our universe works, but never 'why'.

However, I am still intensely interested in the outcome of his research because, like I mentioned, I am not a fan of string theory, and Lisi's stuff is, as far as I understand it, completely at odds with string theory, and if his stuff works and it obsoletes string theory, then I really want to know about it.

Once again, thanks for your awesome post. It is a laborious process to search via google and try to tease out understanding of Lisi's work and where it's going, and your comments gave me more insight than hours and hours of my own 'research' has done.

Re:Exceptionally Simply Theory of Everything (3, Informative)

mcelrath (8027) | more than 6 years ago | (#22829314)

Glad I could be of service. BTW I think your "periodic table" comment is an apt description of the situation. I think what's missing is dynamics.

Rather than google, if you want to keep up with Lisi (or anyone else's) papers, I suggest the SLAC Spires database. For instance, this is Lisi's "exceptionally simple" paper [stanford.edu] . Click on the "Cited..." to get a list of citations. This is updated daily from journal sources, and more importantly arxiv.org. This database generally has topics of relevance to high-energy physics, astrophysics, and gravity. Another good database is the NASA Astrophysical Data Service [harvard.edu] , here's Lisi's "exceptionally simple" paper [harvard.edu] on ADS. I warn you however, everything retrieved this way will be technical in nature.

This is what the web was invented for, by the physics community at CERN no less, and now days all our papers are freely available before they are sent to journals, and the public is welcome to read them. Indeed, I despise the "ivory tower" perception and think we are much better off by having outsiders look at what we're doing. I just with the popular press would wrap their heads around the idea of citing primary sources with a hyperlink....but I digress.

-- Bob

Re:Exceptionally Simply Theory of Everything (1)

Steve Max (1235710) | more than 6 years ago | (#22829288)

One thing I learned on this past few years: never accept "new physics" results from Belle/BaBar. Flavour physics is complicated, the statistics aren't that well understood, there's lots of systematics to be taken into account, and they usually make big announcements. I believe it was with B_s that each claimed a three-sigma deviation from the standard model (but each one was on a different side of the SM prediction), and after a few months both results converged to the SM prediction.

Other thing is: big claims require big evidence. And by "big evidence" I mean at the very least seven sigmafrom the prediction. We have a lot of things that are "incompatible with the standard model" at one or two sigmas, but nobody claims that those actually prove new physics. People just jumped the gun on this one.

Re:Exceptionally Simply Theory of Everything (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22829562)

a 4th generation of quarks

which would be "new subatomic particles...

Re:Exceptionally Simply Theory of Everything (1)

dmartin (235398) | more than 6 years ago | (#22829062)

Hey Bob,

    You actually read (and understood?) that paper? Jamison probably told you that we had a couple of talks on it, including a visit by Dr. Lisi himself. The whole thing seems completely numerological.....

    Hope you are enjoying CERN and Randall's talks!

A Non-Surprise (4, Insightful)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 6 years ago | (#22827482)

I attended a lecture on the CP violation in B and anti-B meson decay at Virginia Tech in 1998. The theory and maths pointed to asymmetry in the binding force of the (respectively) anti-down and down quarks involved. The amount of asymmetry was calculated to be a few parts in a billion. It hadn't then been seen, but the exact nature of the experimental set-up had been worked out (that was the nature of the lecture). Now it has been seen. Now that it has, why pull an unknown particle rabbit out of the quantum hat? What happened to a perfectly good hypothesis derived from known factors which predicted exactly this?

Astronomers noticed an anomaly. They dreamed up dark matter to explain it. Actually, they dredged it up -- the concept had been applied to other phenomena and always found not to be involved if it even existed. Then they set about looking for other signs that matched the theory, and in a fit of circular reasoning claimed it supported the hypothesized existence of the dream-stuff. Now that they're getting away with it so well that The Teaching Company even has a 12 hour lecture series on it for sale, it's encouraging others to invent all manner of invisible widgetons to blame it on, because hey, anyone can do science, but how many people get to dream up something imaginary and get taken seriously? Dream-stuff is sexy even if it doesn't exist. It gets you noticed. It gets you published, and if the publication is more a question than an answer, well, it's invisible or massless or some other quality which makes it unseen by everyone except you and your imagination.

I'm not buying until I see how they dismiss the previous workable theory based on entirely known quanta that predates this supposed discovery by 10 years.

...more like a non-result (3, Interesting)

Roger W Moore (538166) | more than 6 years ago | (#22827702)

All this paper shows is that there is a difference between CP violation in the charged B mesons and the neutral B mesons. This is somewhat unexpected and while you cannot rule out something new it is also true that they cannot rule out QCD (strong force) effects.

The problem the strong force is that it is so strong at low energy that our normal technique to calculate what is going on (called perturbation theory) does not work because, rather than small perturbations, the strong interaction causes huge changes. This means that theorists have to make approximations in order to calculate anything and so their results may well just show a flaw in their assumptions rather than a flaw in our understanding of physics.

An excellent example of this was with my grad student experiment which was also measuring CP violation but with kaons. Before our measurement the theorists were saying that there was absolutely no way at all they could have a certain parameter (epsilon'/epsilon) to have a value greater than 1e-3 and it would likely be a lot lower. So, we measured it at around 1.7e-3 and, lo and behold, the theorists adjusted their models and suddenly it was in agreement with theory.

So while this might be an indication of something new I am not yet convinces that it is anything more than an incorrect assumption in a QCD calculation somewhere. Such calculations are fantastically difficult and while in this case there are things that will make it easier, it is not yet convincing evidence.

Re:A Non-Surprise (3, Insightful)

mcelrath (8027) | more than 6 years ago | (#22828050)

Ok I'll one-up you: I attended a lecture this week, on this particular paper, at CERN.

why pull an unknown particle rabbit out of the quantum hat?

Because in addition to the expected effects, TFA claims NEW effects not explainable by the standard theory. So, we need a new rabbit. The original theory is NOT sufficient if their claims are not due to statistical fluctuations.

Astronomers noticed an anomaly. They dreamed up dark matter to explain it. [...] Then they set about looking for other signs that matched the theory...

That's a pretty darn good description of the scientific method, minus your disparaging adjectives.

Yes anyone can do science. That's the point. Observe, Hypothesize, test. Proving/disproving your dreamed up theory is hard work, and that's what we do. If their observations were explainable by the current theory, they would have been shot down in 5 seconds by their colleagues, in a seminar, or in the journals, and you wouldn't be reading about it in Science magazine. Science is incredibly adversarial. We're all trying to kill each other's theories.

FYI, it's generally a bad assumption that some piece of science you read about in the press has a simple explanation, and the scientists are idiots.

-- Bob

And why not JP Petit's theory? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22827500)

Re:And why not JP Petit's theory? (1)

mcelrath (8027) | more than 6 years ago | (#22827760)

No citations in 4 years is usually a damn good signal of a crackpot paper. Also, it's in the math section of the arxiv. Great way to get physicists to notice it... It seems to contain a lot of copies of the formulas you'd find in the first chapter of most grad level physics texts, and not much else.

-- Bob

Red Rocket (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22827510)

There is more matter than anti-matter because otherwise we'd call anti-matter matter and matter anti-matter.

Same old science... (3, Funny)

creimer (824291) | more than 6 years ago | (#22827512)

If (theory != sense)
    then create.newParticle();
Else
    publish.newTheory();

Re:Same old science... (1)

nicklott (533496) | more than 6 years ago | (#22827820)

No, you need to lose the Else from that stmt...

Re:Same old science... (1)

B4D BE4T (879239) | more than 6 years ago | (#22828398)

Interesting language. The classes are verbs and the methods are nouns. What is it called?

Need a better class library there... (1)

maz2331 (1104901) | more than 6 years ago | (#22829568)

With an improved class library you can do both of those with one variable....

if (theory != sense)
    theory.createNewParticle(BS)
else
    theory.publishNewArticle(BS);

Why carry around variables for "theory" and "publish"? Don't they belong together?

Another flaw in the paradism (2, Insightful)

LM741N (258038) | more than 6 years ago | (#22827562)

Why do you think it is that pi often is needed in calculations? Because someone is using the wrong coordinate system. But pi is not a rational number. It is not the ratio of two integers.
Its the same problem with particle physics. Using the same logic, having to find more and more particles to satisfy some mathematical model makes it pretty obvious that you are in the wrong paradism. People will claim that we have proof that this or that particle exists, but what is a particle to begin with? What exactly is an electron or proton? We have no idea YET.

Re:Another flaw in the paradism (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22827738)

Inter-domain calculations are quite common in electrical engineering, and I'd expect it to be true for at least a number of scientific disciplines. The fact that you need conversion factors from one domain to the other, or even from one quantity to another does not make the model wrong. It would be the same as arguing that our gravitational model is wrong because g is not exactly 1.0, or using the value of e as proof that our understanding of the electron is flawed.

Re:Another flaw in the paradism (2, Insightful)

NewbieProgrammerMan (558327) | more than 6 years ago | (#22827832)

Why do you think it is that pi often is needed in calculations? Because someone is using the wrong coordinate system.
So what coordinate system should I be "using" to find the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter? What is e^(pi*sqrt(-1)) in this coordinate system? Can you perhaps give an example of a situation in which pi is eliminated in a non-trivial calculation by choosing a more correct coordinate system, and explain why is it so bad to have a pi appear in a calculation in the first place?

Shouldn't that be... (1)

toriver (11308) | more than 6 years ago | (#22827910)

"run-of-the-particle-accelerator particles"?

What if... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22828984)

...Feynman-Stueckelberg interpretation of antiparticles is literally correct (antiparticles are "basic" particles, only moving backwards in time) and we are seeing less antimatter because if, after Big Bang, we are floating "with the flow", futurewards, then we are less likely to meet particles going "upstream", counter to our own temporal direction (yes, I understand it is yet another self-centric anthropic argument, but still...). Ideal balance of matter and antimatter we would probably observe if we were left at the point of Big Bang, but instead we moved in time, since. Consequently, there is probably another, predominantly antimatter (anti-, relative to us, otherwise probably very similar) Universe propagating toward "before Big Bang" in direction symmetric to ours, as well as "ring of light" multiverse, aka background radiation to us.

Matter vs. Anti-matter (1)

HungSoLow (809760) | more than 6 years ago | (#22829556)

If there are any physicists out there, can they explain how we know the universe is predominantly matter? What's to say that the andromeda galaxy isn't 100% anti matter (i.e. all positrons and neg-protons.. negtons?). Is anti-matter unstable, even in a regular matter free environment? Or is there some other mechanism that shows the galaxies we observe are mostly matter?
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