An intriguing paper in Physical Review Letters this week reports on an international team’s efforts to dig deep into the Standard Model of physics. The paper itself (PRL) is very technical (not to be attempted by the faint-hearted). But the Edinburgh University press release on the work (not available online, sorry) gets the quote-of-the-day prize for this succinct summary:
Professor Richard Kenway of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Physics said: “Although the Standard Model has been a fantastic success, there were one or two dark corners where experimental tests had been inconclusive, because vital calculations were not accurate enough. We shone a light on one of these, but to our enormous frustration, nothing was lurking there.”
According to the press release, the team used a supercomputer to compare recent experiments studying the decays of bottom quarks to be compared with earlier, strange quark experiments (that’s experiments on strange quarks, not strange experiments on quarks). The comparison result agrees with the predictions of the Standard Model of particle physics and implies that the particle-anti-particle asymmetry (technically known as “CP-symmetry violation”) seen in these two different decay processes have a common origin.
In other words they confirmed the six-quark theory of particle-anti-particle asymmetry.
In other, other words they confirmed what they thought they knew about quarks, and didn’t find anything new. That may be disappointing to people looking to push the boundaries of physics, but I must admit to being a bit relieved: surely we have enough mysteries in the world of particle physics, thanks very much, without turning up new ones.