CERN makes a ‘impressive’ subatomic discovery at the LHC, according to UK experts.
SCIENTISTS at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s largest particle accelerator, have demonstrated for the first time that a subatomic particle can shift from matter to antimatter and back.
A new study published today (June 8) shows that so-called charm mesons can switch between matter and antimatter forms. Work by UK scientists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva, Switzerland, enabled the significant finding. Charm mesons can exist in a state of quantum superposition, according to ultra-precise observations made with the Large Hadron Collider beauty experiment (LHCb).
In simplest terms, a subatomic particle can exist as both itself and its antimatter counterpart at the same time.
Charm masons are subatomic particles that include a quark, which is an elementary ingredient of matter, and an anti-quark, which is the particle’s mirror image.
Antimatter, also known as antiparticles, is the polar opposite of normal matter in the strange and beautiful world of particle physics.
For example, the negatively charged electron has an antimatter counterpart, the positron, which has the same mass but a positive charge.
Scientists have known for more than a decade that charm mesons can move as a mixture of their particle and antimatter states, a phenomenon known as mixing.
However, a recent finding at CERN has established beyond a reasonable doubt that charm mesons oscillate between the two states.
When this happens, quantum superposition creates two particles, one heavier and one lighter, each with their own mass.
The charm meson can then switch or fluctuate between matter and antimatter as a result of the superposition.
The study was published in the journal Physical Review Letters and can be accessed on the arXiv.org preprint server. It was supported by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC).
The collected data has reached the required statistical significance of “five sigma” to be considered a finding.
To put the significance of the discovery into perspective, University of Oxford researchers had to calculate the mass difference between the two particles.
And the difference was around 0.000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000
This was made feasible because to new approaches pioneered by University of Warwick academics.
The measurement was possible because to the reams of data acquired by the LHCb, one of the biggest particle detectors along the way. “Brinkwire News in Condensed Form.”