Just as matter can be converted into energy, so too can energy become matter. That’s what five-dozen Jefferson Lab researchers were counting on for an experiment in Hall A
Albert Einstein figured it out by 1905, as he was formulating his special theory of relativity: while you can’t exactly get something from nothing, you can come close. His famous formula, E=MC2, works both ways. Just as matter can be converted into energy, so too can energy become matter.
That’s just what five dozen researchers were counting on with a Jefferson Lab experiment in Hall A that used the Lab’s electron beam and a liquid hydrogen target to bring to life an unusual particle known as a kaon. The kaon’s unique structure could prove of great help to cosmologists, who should be able to use the results of experiments like the Hall A effort to develop structural models of stellar objects made up of exotic, or "strange" matter, matter that includes kaons as part of their own subatomic architectures. Preliminary findings indicate that kaon production results from the interactions of the particles of light known as photons. The photons create more than just kaons, however. They also produce other particles, known as lambda and sigma, with their own distinctive quark structure. All arise from a constantly churning sea of "virtual" particles that can’t exist until bumped by a jolt of energy such as that provided by the Lab’s accelerator.
Linda Ware | EurekAlert!
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