Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

On A Collision Course With Discovery

Date:
October 29, 2005
Source:
Brandeis University
Summary:
In the universe of high-energy physics, the smallest building blocks of matter (or anti-matter) make the biggest news. Take subatomic particles, for instance. Colliding into each other at nearly the speed of light in the world’s highest-energy particle accelerator, protons and antiprotons produced some of the biggest physics news of the decade in 1995: the top quark. The tenth anniversary of the discovery is being celebrated by physicists around the world.

Electronic signatures produced by collisions of protons and antiprotons in the Tevatron accelerator at Fermilab provided evidence that the elusive subatomic particle known as top quark has been found.
Credit: Image courtesy of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

In the universe of high-energy physics, the smallest building blocks of matter (or anti-matter) make the biggest news. Take subatomic particles, for instance. Colliding into each other at nearly the speed of light in the world’s highest-energy particle accelerator, protons and antiprotons produced some of the biggest physics news of the decade in 1995: the top quark.

The tenth anniversary of the discovery -- it was the last unknown particle of the six-member quark family predicted by current scientific theory -- is being celebrated by physicists around the world and at the Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) in Batavia, Illinois, where the experiments took place inside the Tevatron, a four-mile long particle accelerator.

The discovery of the top quark, the result of a global collaboration among 74 universities, is particularly meaningful to Brandeis, whose high-energy physics group was deeply involved in the subatomic quest to find it. In a singular contribution, Milciades Contreras, then a doctoral student in physics, observed the first “top quark event” that led to its discovery.

“With a lot of enthusiasm I decided to go and search for the top quark, being quite aware that I was facing a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Contreras. “One on occasion, while scanning data, I happened to find the first event seriously regarded as a top quark candidate – it was beautiful!”

Although Contreras could not claim discovery with only one recorded event, it provided the basis of his doctoral thesis and later became one of the two discovery channels for the top quark, explained Brandeis physicist Jim Bensinger.

“Discovering the top quark took many years and the work of hundreds of our collaborators who imagined, built and ran the experiment,” Contreras added.

In high-energy physics, observing a top quark, paired with its anti-top quark, is a fairly rare event, so enough experiments have to be run to statistically verify it is not other events. As Brandeis physicist Craig Blocker put it, “you have to get enough data to convince yourself you’ve seen it.”

Of course in physics, “seeing” takes on new meaning. In each of the 150 recorded top quark events that confirmed its discovery at Fermilab, neither the top nor bottom quark could actually be detected. Instead, computers graphically recorded the electronic signatures created by the various subatomic particles blasted apart in each collision. Once in a few billion collisions, physicists find the signature of top.

Since its discovery, the Brandeis group has been researching key questions about the properties of top and other particles. It’s all in pursuit of greater understanding of matter, energy, space and time, which particle physicists believe will help us understand how we got here and where we’re going.

Says Blocker: “We’re trying to understand how the universe works on a small scale.”


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Brandeis University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Brandeis University. "On A Collision Course With Discovery." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 October 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/10/051029094857.htm>.
Brandeis University. (2005, October 29). On A Collision Course With Discovery. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/10/051029094857.htm
Brandeis University. "On A Collision Course With Discovery." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/10/051029094857.htm (accessed September 19, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Friday, September 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Virtual Reality Headsets Unveiled at Tokyo Game Show

Virtual Reality Headsets Unveiled at Tokyo Game Show

AFP (Sep. 18, 2014) Several companies unveiled virtual reality headsets at the Tokyo Game Show, Asia's largest digital entertainment exhibition. Duration: 00:48 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Apple's iOS8 Includes New 'Killswitch' To Curb Theft

Apple's iOS8 Includes New 'Killswitch' To Curb Theft

Newsy (Sep. 18, 2014) Apple's new operating system, iOS 8, comes with Apple's killswitch feature already activated, unlike all the models before it. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stocks Hit All-Time High as Fed Holds Steady

Stocks Hit All-Time High as Fed Holds Steady

AP (Sep. 17, 2014) The Federal Reserve signaled Wednesday that it plans to keep a key interest rate at a record low because a broad range of U.S. economic measures remain subpar. Stocks hit an all-time high on the news. (Sept. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Space Race Pits Bezos Vs Musk

Space Race Pits Bezos Vs Musk

Reuters - Business Video Online (Sep. 16, 2014) Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' startup will team up with Boeing and Lockheed to develop rocket engines as Elon Musk races to have his rockets certified. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins