Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Fuzziness on the Road to Physics' Grand Unification Theory

08.10.2008
Leave it to hypothesized gravity to weigh down what physicists have thought for 30 years. If theoretical physicists, led by the University of Oregon's Stephen Hsu, are right, the idea that nature's forces merge under grand unification has grown fuzzy.

At issue are grand unified theories that first appeared in the 1970s. They have suggested that, at short distances or high-energy scales, electromagnetic forces, strong forces, which bind quarks in protons and neutrons, and weak forces, which drive nuclear decay, will coalesce into a single unified field. Indications of this idea could appear at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

Hsu and colleagues applied advanced computations to qualities that might exist in quantum gravity in distance-shortened, high-energy interactions. Working with Hsu on the project, to be described in the journal Physical Review Letters, were UO doctoral student David Reeb and Xavier Calmet, a former postdoc in the UO's Institute of Theoretical Science and now of the Center for Particle Physics and Phenomenology at Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium.

"The energy scale at which these three forces become equivalent is probably very high," Hsu said. "We do not have a direct way to probe what happens. We cannot actually produce the energies or produce the particles necessary to directly test whether unification occurs, so we look for hints at lower energy scales -- and look at how the interactions change. We have seen indications that these three interactions are starting to unify. If you extrapolate these trends to very high energy, it looks like, in certain models or theories, they could unify -- all based on experimental data. If grand unification exists, it might be shown at the LHC."

Enter quantum gravity. It's not the physical law version as seen under of Isaac Newton's apple tree but rather a physical theory about gravitational interactions of matter and energy that may be vital to grand unification. This is the realm of space time and its curvature. Hsu's team looked closely at quantum gravity and the interactions of the forces at work using extrapolations built by mathematical magnification.

"It is believed that at short distances and high energies the actual structure of space time will start to exhibit quantum fluctuations," Hsu said. "So there would be fuzziness in the nature of space and time. The scale at which this grand unification might occur is getting kind of close to the scale where quantum gravity might exhibit this kind of fuzziness."

The fuzziness, researchers theorize, blurs the envisioned highway to unification. The blurring, they say, is brought about in the interplay of nature's forces, where, in certain models of unification, there may be thousands of yet-unseen particles at the boundary, affecting the highway itself.

"The interplay of these forces, in our theory, creates more uncertainty than people previously though could exist in this whole discussion," said Reeb, who performed much of the number crunching. "It's an important result, because it is telling people that when you look at the low-energy data and you extrapolate them you may have to be much more careful than was thought."

If grand unification is to be found, the discovery would move particle physics closer to the proposed idea of supersymmetry, whereby particles at each level have corresponding qualities in another level as they spin. "Our research says there are more uncertainties to this argument than previously believed," Reeb said.

The bottom line, Hsu said, is that as data is generated in the LHC, interpretations as to relationships to grand unification may be more difficult for particle physicists to pin down.

The U.S. Department of Energy provided funding for the research.

About the University of Oregon
The University of Oregon is a world-class teaching and research institution and Oregon's flagship public university. The UO is a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU), an organization made up of 62 of the leading public and private research institutions in the United States and Canada. Membership in the AAU is by invitation only. The University of Oregon is one of only two AAU members in the Pacific Northwest.

Sources: Stephen D.H. Hsu, professor of physics, College of Arts and Sciences, 541-346-5128, hsu@uoregon.edu; David F. Reeb, physics doctoral student, dreeb@uoregon.edu

Jim Barlow | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.uoregon.edu

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht When AI and optoelectronics meet: Researchers take control of light properties
20.11.2018 | Institut national de la recherche scientifique - INRS

nachricht How to melt gold at room temperature
20.11.2018 | Chalmers University of Technology

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Nonstop Tranport of Cargo in Nanomachines

Max Planck researchers revel the nano-structure of molecular trains and the reason for smooth transport in cellular antennas.

Moving around, sensing the extracellular environment, and signaling to other cells are important for a cell to function properly. Responsible for those tasks...

Im Focus: UNH scientists help provide first-ever views of elusive energy explosion

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.

Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Optical Coherence Tomography: German-Japanese Research Alliance hosted Medical Imaging Conference

19.11.2018 | Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Nonstop Tranport of Cargo in Nanomachines

20.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Researchers find social cultures in chimpanzees

20.11.2018 | Life Sciences

When AI and optoelectronics meet: Researchers take control of light properties

20.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>