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back to article Standard Model goes PEAR-SHAPED in CERN experiment

It's only a small thing, but it could be big news: researchers at CERN have turned up the first evidence of exotic (and short-lived) atoms with pear-shaped nuclei. The reasons the boffins are excited is they believe the eccentric nuclei can help them probe one of physics' official Big Questions: how come there's something …

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Matter/anti-matter

Nothing really matters. Anyone can see.

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Happy

Re: Matter/anti-matter

Exotic matter. Lets build a stargate!

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Re: Matter/anti-matter

"Exotic matter. Lets build a stargate!"

But would it be pear shape....?

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Re: Matter/anti-matter

...Anyway the wind blows...

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At last

LHC begins to justify its expence as it opens doors to new knowledge.

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Re: At last

ISOLDE != LHC

The ISOLDE lab is fed by the Proton Synchotron - a much smaller accelerator ring which predates the LHC by about 60 years or so ...

If it helps:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cern-accelerator-complex.svg

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Re: At last

Actually it may even only be fed off the initial PS Booster ring (older still than the PS and much smaller). I do like how they just keep taking the output of one accelerator and throwing into the next bigger one the make - can't wait to see what the LHC feeds in 50 years ;)

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Re: At last

Er - are you quoting the Torygraph? Because if so, the stats are probably made up.

Even if they aren't, in controlled scientific tests astrologers and tarot readers consistently outperform the predictive abilities of bankers and economists - although they still don't as well as picking stocks at random.

Our economies are run by dangerous self-destructive morons. If they were run by sane people, there would be a lot more cash around for useful science, and invention, and bigger experiments, and that kind of thing.

It would also help if all the clever people concentrated on science instead of wasting their time as quants.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: At last @TheOtherHobbes

"Even if they aren't, in controlled scientific tests astrologers and tarot readers consistently outperform the predictive abilities of bankers and economists - although they still don't as well as picking stocks at random."

No.

Just no.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: At last

Oh yes, psychics and their ilk are so good, aren't they ??

http://www.livescience.com/29394-psychic-claimed-amanda-berry-dead.html

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Re: At last @TheOtherHobbes

I think @TheOtherHobbes might be right: the most effective stock picks are random, then psychics (slightly less random), then bankers (much less random). If the claim had been that the psychics could beat random, then I would absolutely agree with you that the claim is rubbish, but I can see a mechanism where the more people think they know about stocks, the worse they do (because they exercise the least randomness when choosing).

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Re: At last

And Bernanke, Krugman, and the UK & EU equivalents are so good at determining economic outcomes.

Poster may have been off about psychics, but not about economists and bankers.

Economics is not science.

[icon of klueless Krugman]

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WTF?

Re: At last

"To give an example, the Italians alone spend more money on Tarot card, astrology and fortune teller readings EVERY YEAR than it costs to make an LHC."

If you're going to make daft comparisons you might as well say italians spend more on toilet ducks/dog whistles//whatever than on the LCH. However there's a qualatative difference that you're conveniently ignoring - one is a large number of individual people making their own unrelated decisions , another is a government body spending a large sum of money on a physics experiment - and lets not pretend its anything else - that may or may not pay dividends.

And while personally I'm all for blue sky research that doesn't mean it should be given a blank cheque. Science doesn't exist in a vacuum , its part of society and society has to foot the bill and therefor society has a say on whether its worth the money whether you like it or not.

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Re: At last

"Science doesn't exist in a vacuum , its part of society and society has to foot the bill and therefor society has a say on whether its worth the money whether you like it or not."

If, at this point where we can fly to Australia, give children to unfertile couples, pack millions of working parts into half a square inch, see through objects, go to the bottom of the deepest ocean, and talk to our kids no matter where they are when we want to, "society" still thinks there's some question about the value of such small amounts of money being spent on science, then there is clearly a problem with society and I for one would be happy to point the finger at the aforementioned Tarot cards, astrologers, fortune tellers (and priests and imrans and rabbis) and all the other pedallers of lies and easy answers.

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FAIL

Re: At last

"the value of such small amounts of money being spent on science"

I'm sorry , what? You think 6 BILLION euros is a "small" amount of money to spend on an experiment for one niche area of physics that hasn't produced much in the way of usable technology in 50 years??!

You my friend are in dire need of getting a sense of perspective. Do you think newton or einstein or telsa went to went to their governments and said "give me 1% of your GDP and I'll do some really cool experiments and I'll see what I can come up with." I don't think so!

I'm not entirely sure why particle physicists seems to think they live in a bubble and are worth unlimited amounts of money spending on their pet subjects when other areas of scientific research are being cut do the bone and are left to beg for scraps but I can assure you that not everyone is of the same opinion.

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Re: At last

"I'm sorry , what? You think 6 BILLION euros is a "small" amount of money to spend on an experiment for one niche area of physics that hasn't produced much in the way of usable technology in 50 years??!"

Well, you're wrong about the usable technology issue and 6 billion spent over several years is a drop in the ocean compared to what we threw away in a moment on the banks and what we waste on nuclear weapons that will never be used, or indeed on building roads or high speed rail links which will be used but mostly for pretty trivial reasons.

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Re: At last @Robert Long 1

I upvoted you but I don't totally agree. Tarot cards and fortune tellers are not in the same category as priests, imams and rabbis.

In a prescientific age, paying people to think about the nature of reality, even if they were looking at the wrong book, was a step forward. It's the educated clergy who usually had the time and inclination to get involved in science. It was people like Francis Bacon (a Franciscan friar) who had the time and intellectual curiosity to look into optics and explosives, and the religious attitude to suggest that all these new ideas should be used to improve the lot of the poor. It was mostly those clerical drones at Oxford and Cambridge that spent their spare time doing geology and optics. I realise that this is an oversimplification and that there are plenty of counter examples, but until society developed and protected a class of people who had time to think about things, progress was going to be limited.

We're having a kind of debate nowadays about moving on from the religious era, but when I compare, say, Dawkins with his apparent social Darwinism and classification of people like himself as "bright", and the new A of C who despite a privileged background is calling for social justice, I don't think the case is proven that religious ideas are completely out of date.

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Re: At last

"Well, you're wrong about the usable technology issue "

Really? Well you'll be able to fill us in then on what exactly particle physics has produced in the way of usable technology recently then.

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Pear shaped matter?

Let's see - they smash a heavy atom into another not as heavy atom and the shape is asymmetric? hmmm. If a big car hit a not so big car, would one be pear shaped? just saying. Maybe the image they captured is at a moment of recoil. It would reason that atoms deform under appropriate stress.

The fact that this image is produced is amazing enough in itself don't u think?

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Facepalm

Re: Pear shaped matter?

"... they smash a heavy atom into another not as heavy atom ..."

So a job for a Quantum Panel-beater rather than a Quantum Mechanic then.

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Re: Pear shaped matter?

You, sir, owe me a new keyboard.

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Re: Pear shaped matter?

I studied to be a quantum mechanic. I had to give it up. I never knew whether the tool I needed would be in the toolbox until I opened the box. It was very difficult to grasp a quantum part.

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Re: Pear shaped matter?

"I studied to be a quantum mechanic. I had to give it up. I never knew whether the tool I needed would be in the toolbox until I opened the box. It was very difficult to grasp a quantum part."

I took the exam to be a quantum mechanic and everything: when I asked if I'd passed, they said "yes and no".

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Re: Pear shaped matter?

What's irritating about banging quantum panels is that every time you knock a dent out of one, the entangled panel gets one knocked in.

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Joke

Re: Pear shaped matter?

I hitched a lift with a quantum mechanic once. We got pulled over by the Old Bill. This officer asked him "Do you know how fast you were going?"

"No," he said, "but I know exactly where I was!"

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Re: Pear shaped matter?

"I hitched a lift with a quantum mechanic once. We got pulled over by the Old Bill. This officer asked him "Do you know how fast you were going?"

"No," he said, "but I know exactly where I was!""

If he got sent to jail, how did they know if he passed Go or not?

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Coat

Re: Pear shaped matter?

> It was very difficult to grasp a quantum part.

I dunno.

Personally, it was all fine, man!

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Re: Standard Model DOES predict asymmetry

In a basic sense, the weak nuclear force should obviously distinguish, because it distinguishes between handedness of particles, so that's OK. I think the problem is that the CP violation that the weak nuclear force gives isn't enough to explain the size of the matter-antimatter imbalance. But I could be wrong.

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Re: Standard Model DOES predict asymmetry

@DavCrav is correct. CP violation doesn't give enough asymmetry by a couple of orders of magnitude.

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*If* true that would make the Standard Model a pretty blunt tool.

However I recall a very old documentary on relativistic physics which talked about communicating with an alien race that might be made of anti-matter, making any meeting with them a very bad idea.

But how could you devise a test to find out if they were?

There is a difference. IIRC it was all about the asymmetry in gamma ray emissions from certain nuclei.

What I can't remember is if this demonstrated both a difference in emission angle and amount, which I think would be necessary to ensure the matter (over time) outnumbered the anti matter particles.

But definitely intriguing. Thumbs up for some neat physics.

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Re: *If* true that would make the Standard Model a pretty blunt tool.

If you want to test what would happen we could always use chavs! See they do have a use after all.

Back on topic, although not entirely understanding what the hell is going on at CERN (brain not big enough!). I applaud the fact that they are doing something to further figure out what is going on in the world. It shows that we don't know everything (and yes religous nuts, I am looking at you!), but we are not afraid to look! (still looking at you religous nuts)

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Re: *If* true that would make the Standard Model a pretty blunt tool.

I think I saw that documentary, too, donkeys years ago. IIRC, it revealed that a certain isotope of cobalt is seen to preferentially spit out electrons (beta decay) in a different way to its antiparticle.

The fact that there is an asymmetry in the universe has always troubled me. I imagined that if I was God, and created a left hand and a right hand, how would I know which is which? For a human, it's not too hard to do, because we're surrounded by large scale asymmetries, like generally having a heart on the left, and halves of the brain that work in different ways. But if you're the supreme being, dealing with the building blocks of nature, there can be no such external reference. "This is an anti-particle because I say it is, and this one is a particle because it's the opposite of the other one that I said was an anti-particle" sounds like a bit of a dodgy argument. How God gets away with it is a mystery to me.

And a mystery to me, it's likely to remain, since descriptions of the subject bring horrible imaginary numbers and matrix multiplications into the frame. Far too baffling for me to understand.

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JDX
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Re: *If* true that would make the Standard Model a pretty blunt tool.

Um, as a "religious nut" I applaud this kind of scientific progress...

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Re: How God gets away with it is a mystery to me.

Same way that the Invisible Pink Unicorn gets away with it.

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Asymmetry can be an emergent property.

The general belief is that the universe started symmetric but unstable, or evolved to become unstable, and then spontaneously changed into a more stable but less symmetric configuration. Imagine a ball perched on a mound in the exact middle of a dish, with perfect rotational symmetry about the Z axis. Precisely because it is perfectly symmetric, the ball doesn't move. The slightest fluctation of anything changes the situation from metastable to unstable. The ball starts to roll. Once this starts, it will ultimately settle down to stability in a lower part of the dish, displaced from the centre. The arrangement of ball and dish is no longer symmetric about its Z axis. Incidentally the ball is also merely metastable with respect to rolling to and fro in its sponaneously chosen X-Z plane and won't "ignore" its freedom to also move in the Y direction for very long.

If you ask how it got onto the mound, one answer is that the dish itself always retains perfect rotational symmetry, but is evolving in shape from one with the lowest point at the exact centre, to one with a mound at the centre. At the critical point where the centre is no longer the low point, the ball ceases to be stable and becomes metastable.

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Re: *If* true that would make the Standard Model a pretty blunt tool.

"I think I saw that documentary, too, donkeys years ago."

I don't know about the documentary, but you've remembered the experiment and, yes, this is fairly old stuff. I found out about it from Martin Gardner's "Ambidextrous Universe", which was itself first published before my time. I think he was the one who introduced the Ozma problem of talking to anti-aliens.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CP_violation

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ambidextrous_Universe

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Happy

Re: *If* true that would make the Standard Model a pretty blunt tool.

Ohh cmon, you know Im not on about the average, run of the mill, garden variety religious nuts. Im on about the religious nuts who believe the world was created in 6days with a 7th for rest 6000 odd years ago or the whackadoodles that blow themselves up in the name of (insert invisible deity of choice here) to "further their cause"!

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Anonymous Coward

Except that...

These results would be interesting, except for the fact that experiments that produce results at variance with the Standard Model (and GR and QM,) don't exactly have a really good track record...

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Re: Except that...

and that is precisely the reason to keep trying

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Rol
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Antimatter and anti-gravity anyone?

If the idea that antimatter has an inane dislike of crowds ever gets proven, then I do believe the answer to all this matter we happily gaze upon will be upon us.

Just like in a nuclear explosion, most of the material, as in almost 100%, gets explosively dispersed before it gets the slightest chance to go pop itself.

So, big bang. Matter and antimatter gets dispersed at light speed and bugger me, the antimatter just keeps on running away from all its neighbours and hence the disparity we "see" is not a disparity at all.

So, where's all the antimatter then, if it didn't hang around for the year zero party?

Well you know that weird dark stuff, we can't see, touch or sense, but seems to have a gravitational influence on galaxies and the like, well, err, might I suggest the gravitational effect is actually an anti-gravitational effect from the antimatter that prefers life outside of matter's domain and similarly likes to keep everything out of it's.

That antimatter dislikes company and actively pushes against all contact, might also point to the often not asked question, where are all the antimatter stars and black holes?

I get paid sod all for my scientific ponderings, so for those of you who can't take their eyes off the money, might I suggest you jog on and get back to me several years and several trillion dollars later.

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JDX
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Re: Antimatter and anti-gravity anyone?

Anti-matter responds to gravity in the regular way. AM in tiny quantities is easy to make as evidenced by the existance if the PET Scan.

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Rol
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Re: Antimatter and anti-gravity anyone?

but difficult to interrogate it's gravitational properties when it is swathed in a magnetic flux several orders of magnitude greater than gravity.

However some tentative experiments in our matter infested world has thrown up results showing antimatter does have anti-gravity properties.

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Re: Antimatter and anti-gravity anyone?

I thought the point about the apparent asymmetry of matter and antimatter was that there was an excess of matter, and so I suppose that almost all, or perhaps indeed all of the antimatter was annihilated. The same happened to _most_ of the matter, but since there was an excess of matter, what was left after the mutual annihilation is what we now see.

Nevertheless I stand ready to be corrected.

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Stop

Re: Antimatter and anti-gravity anyone?

Actually, that has not been tested yet. There are some experiments currently underway; this is one: http://home.web.cern.ch/about/updates/2013/04/alpha-novel-investigation-gravity-and-antimatter

Unfortunately actually measuring the motion of an atom of antihydrogen when you drop it is kinda hard, and the results aren't anywhere like conclusive.

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Rol
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Re: Antimatter and anti-gravity anyone?

We detect the existence of matter by the energy it reflects or emits.

If AM is as shy as I consider then;-

1.. It will avoid interaction with everything and therefore not be reflecting anything.

2.. Will not interact, even with its kith and kin and therefore not emit anything.

I suppose once the vastness of space is considered, it can easily be realised how widely dispersed antimatter can be, so like a neutrino can pass through a planet, energy can pass through space without ever hitting antimatter. Hence, we can't see it.

Elusive dark matter? Pah! Antimatter and nothing more.

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