The Large Hadron Collider has produced another cool piece of science, as scientists have announced the the discovery of something that had previously only existed in theory.
A new particle, called the pentaquark, was first predicted to exist in the 1960s. However, scientists were only recently able to actually detect the elusive new type of matter.
From the BBC:
In 1964, two physicists – Murray Gell Mann and George Zweig – independently proposed the existence of the subatomic particles known as quarks.
They theorised that key properties of the particles known as baryons and mesons were best explained if they were in turn made up of other constituent particles. Zweig coined the term “aces” for the three new hypothesised building blocks, but it was Gell-Mann’s name “quark” that stuck.
This model also allowed for other quark states, such as the pentaquark. This purely theoretical particle was composed of four quarks and an antiquark (the anti-matter equivalent of an ordinary quark).
So for those of us without degrees in quantum physics and the like, what does this exactly mean?
“The pentaquark is not just any new particle,” said spokesperson Guy Wilkinson. “It represents a way to aggregate quarks, namely the fundamental constituents of ordinary protons and neutrons, in a pattern that has never been observed before in over fifty years of experimental searches… Studying its properties may allow us to understand better how ordinary matter, the protons and neutrons from which we’re all made, is constituted.”
The Large Hardon Collider is the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator. It was originally fired up in September 2008, but has been down for the past two years to complete repairs and upgrades.