A new measurement by a student and professor at the University of Rochester has shed new light on the limits of scientists standard model of physics. Doctoral student Ben Kilminster and Kevin McFarland, professor of physics, used the particle accelerator at Fermilab to conduct the first measurement ever done with enough precision to discern certain characteristics of how the top quark, the heaviest particle in known physics, decays. The work is reported in todays issue of Physical Review D.
The findings suggest there is no connection between the top quark and the weak nuclear force--an idea that had been attractive because the unusually high and similar energies of the top quark and the weak forces particle, the W-boson, stood out from the rest of the known particles. A link between the quark and the boson would have strongly suggested that the top quark held a special place in the quantum world, perhaps as a kind of "father" of the weak force, which is responsible for the characteristics of all known matter.
"No one has made this kind of measurement as precisely, and the findings are laying another brick in our knowledge of how the universe works," says McFarland. "People are trying desperately to understand why the weak force is weak. At the beginning of the universe, it and the force that is responsible for light, among other things, were essentially one and the same; but now, light can cross the cosmos, but the weak force cant even cross an atom. Weve come up with a lot of theories as to why this is, but these new findings mean that a lot of those theories are going to have to be crossed off."
Jonathan Sherwood | EurekAlert!
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