Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Discovery Of 'Broken Symmetry' At Subatomic Level Earns 2008 Nobel Prize In Physics

Date:
October 7, 2008
Source:
Nobel Foundation
Summary:
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for 2008 with one half to Yoichiro Nambu for the discovery of the mechanism of spontaneous broken symmetry in subatomic physics, and the other half jointly to Makoto Kobayashi and Toshihide Maskawa for the discovery of the origin of the broken symmetry which predicts the existence of at least three families of quarks in nature.

Electrons and quarks are the smallest building blocks of all matter. The Standard Model today unifies all the fundamental building blocks of matter and three of the four fundamental forces. While all known matter is built with particles from the first family, the other particles exists but only for extremely short time periods. To complete the Model a new particle is needed -- the Higgs particle -- that the physics community hopes to find in the new built accelerator LHC at CERN in Geneva.
Credit: Image courtesy of Nobel Foundation

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for 2008 with one half to Yoichiro Nambu, of the Enrico Fermi Institute at the University of Chicago, "for the discovery of the mechanism of spontaneous broken symmetry in subatomic physics," and the other half jointly to Makoto Kobayashi, of Japan's High Energy Accelerator Research Organization (KEK) and Toshihide Maskawa, of the Yukawa Institute for Theoretical Physics (YITP) at Kyoto University, "for the discovery of the origin of the broken symmetry which predicts the existence of at least three families of quarks in nature."

Passion for symmetry

The fact that our world does not behave perfectly symmetrically is due to deviations from symmetry at the microscopic level.

As early as 1960, Yoichiro Nambu formulated his mathematical description of spontaneous broken symmetry in elementary particle physics. Spontaneous broken symmetry conceals nature’s order under an apparently jumbled surface. It has proved to be extremely useful, and Nambu’s theories permeate the Standard Model of elementary particle physics. The Model unifies the smallest building blocks of all matter and three of nature’s four forces in one single theory.

The spontaneous broken symmetries that Nambu studied, differ from the broken symmetries described by Makoto Kobayashi and Toshihide Maskawa. These spontaneous occurrences seem to have existed in nature since the very beginning of the universe and came as a complete surprise when they first appeared in particle experiments in 1964.

It is only in recent years that scientists have come to fully confirm the explanations that Kobayashi and Maskawa made in 1972. It is for this work that they are now awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics. They explained broken symmetry within the framework of the Standard Model, but required that the Model be extended to three families of quarks. These predicted, hypothetical new quarks have recently appeared in physics experiments.

As late as 2001, the two particle detectors BaBar at Stanford, USA and Belle at Tsukuba, Japan, both detected broken symmetries independently of each other. The results were exactly as Kobayashi and Maskawa had predicted almost three decades earlier.

A hitherto unexplained broken symmetry of the same kind lies behind the very origin of the cosmos in the Big Bang some 14 billion years ago. If equal amounts of matter and antimatter were created, they ought to have annihilated each other.

But this did not happen, there was a tiny deviation of one extra particle of matter for every 10 billion antimatter particles. It is this broken symmetry that seems to have caused our cosmos to survive.

The question of how this exactly happened still remains unanswered. Perhaps the new particle accelerator LHC at CERN in Geneva will unravel some of the mysteries that continue to puzzle us.

Yoichiro Nambu, a US citizen, was born in 1921 in Tokyo, Japan. He obtained his D.Sc. in 1952 at University of Tokyo, Japan. And he is now Harry Pratt Judson Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus at Enrico Fermi Institute, University of Chicago.

Makoto Kobayashi, a Japanese citizen, was born in 1944 in Nagoya, Japan. He obtained his Ph.D. in 1972 at Nagoya University, Japan. And he is now Professor Emeritus at High Energy Accelerator Research Organization (KEK), Tsukuba, Japan.

Toshihide Maskawa, also a Japanese citizen, was born in 1940. He obtained his Ph.D. in 1967 at Nagoya University, Japan. And he is now Professor Emeritus at Yukawa Institute for Theoretical Physics (YITP), Kyoto University, Japan.

The prize amount is SEK 10 million. Nambu receives one half and Kobayashi and Maskawa share the other half.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

Nobel Foundation. "Discovery Of 'Broken Symmetry' At Subatomic Level Earns 2008 Nobel Prize In Physics." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 October 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081007104921.htm>.
Nobel Foundation. (2008, October 7). Discovery Of 'Broken Symmetry' At Subatomic Level Earns 2008 Nobel Prize In Physics. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081007104921.htm
Nobel Foundation. "Discovery Of 'Broken Symmetry' At Subatomic Level Earns 2008 Nobel Prize In Physics." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081007104921.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

AFP (July 25, 2014) — Europe's highest train, the little train of Artouste in the French Pyrenees, celebrates its 80th birthday. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans

TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans

AP (July 24, 2014) — TSA administrator, John Pistole's took part in the Aspen Security Forum 2014, where he answered questions on lifting of the ban on flights into Israel's Tel Aviv airport and whether politics played a role in lifting the ban. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

AP (July 24, 2014) — Mobile phone companies and communities across the country are going to new lengths to disguise those unsightly cellphone towers. From a church bell tower to a flagpole, even a pencil, some towers are trying to make a point. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Algonquin Power Goes Activist on Its Target Gas Natural

Algonquin Power Goes Activist on Its Target Gas Natural

TheStreet (July 23, 2014) — When The Deal's Amanda Levin exclusively reported that Gas Natural had been talking to potential suitors, the Ohio company responded with a flat denial, claiming its board had not talked to anyone about a possible sale. Lo and behold, Canadian utility Algonquin Power and Utilities not only had approached the company, but it did it three times. Its last offer was for $13 per share as Gas Natural's was trading at a 60-day moving average of about $12.50 per share. Now Algonquin, which has a 4.9% stake in Gas Natural, has taken its case to shareholders, calling on them to back its proposals or, possibly, a change in the target's board. Video provided by TheStreet
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