This symmetry violation makes hydrogen possible, a requirement for life
Scientists at the Indiana University Cyclotron Facility in Bloomington have made the first unambiguous detection of a rare process, the fusion of two nuclei of heavy hydrogen to form a nucleus of helium and an uncharged pion. The pion is one of the subatomic particles responsible for the strong force that holds every nucleus together. The achievement will be announced Saturday (April 5) at the meeting of the American Physical Society in Philadelphia.
"Scientists have searched for this rare fusion process since the 1950s," said IU physicist Edward Stephenson, the leader of the research team. "The process would not happen at all if nature did not allow a small violation of what is known as charge symmetry. If this symmetry violation had happened to be in the other direction, hydrogen would not have survived after the Big Bang, and the universe would not have the hydrogen fuel that keeps stars shining, including our sun, making human life possible. Sometimes large consequences hang on delicate balances in nature."
Hal Kibbey | EurekAlert!
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