In research performed at the Department of Energys Jefferson Lab, nuclear physicists have found that strange quarks do contribute to the structure of the proton. This result indicates that, just as previous experiments have hinted, strange quarks in the protons quark-gluon sea contribute to a protons properties. The result comes from work performed by the G-Zero collaboration, an international group of 108 physicists from 19 institutions and was presented at a Jefferson Lab physics seminar June 17.
Protons are found in the heart of all matter: the nucleus of the atom. Physicists have long known that protons are primarily built of particles called quarks, along with particles called gluons that bind the quarks together. There are three permanent quarks in the proton that come in two "flavors": two "up" and one "down." Up and down quarks are the lightest of the possible six flavors of quarks that appear to exist in the universe.
In addition to the protons three resident quarks, the peculiar rules of quantum mechanics allow other particles to appear from time to time. These ghostly particles usually vanish in a tiny fraction of a second, but its possible that they stay around long enough to influence the structure of the proton. Nuclear physicists set out to catch some of these ghostly particles in the act. They determined that the next-lightest quark, the "strange" quark, would be the most likely to have a visible effect.
Kandice Carter | EurekAlert!
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