It’s another great Sunday and it’s time to take a look at what’s been going on in the world of physics. Here are the top 3 news stories summarized below. For more news and other good stuff register for our email newsletter.
1. Does a New Particle Lurk in Data from Sleeping LHC? (June 11)
Hints of what may be a brand new particle have appeared in data generated by the Large Hadron Collider at CERN near Geneva, Switzerland, before it shut down for upgrades at the start of 2013. Patrick Koppenburg at the National Institute for Subatomic Physics in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and his colleagues have looked at data produced by the LHCb detector and spotted that Z bosons seem to decay into electrons 25 per cent more often than muons. This suggests some unknown particle may have popped up and skewed the rate. One possible culprit is a heavier type of Z boson, dubbed a Z’ (pronounced “Z prime”).
“There could be a whole hidden sector of nature that’s hidden because of the rareness of the events,” says Michael Roney at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada. But he cautions that signs of the imbalance could vanish with further data.
A new particle hiding in the data of the LHC?
2. Long – Range Tunelling of Quantum Particles (June 12)
Experimental physicists in Innsbruck, Austria, have directly observed quantum particles transmitting through a whole series of up to five potential barriers under conditions where a single particle could not do the move. Quantum tunneling explains nuclear radioactive decay, fusion reactions in the interior of stars, and electron transport through quantum dots. All the above systems have one thing in common: a single particle that penetrates through a single barrier. Now, the team of Hanns-Christoph Nägerl, Institute for Experimental Physics of the University of Innsbruck, Austria, have observed a more sophisticated effect of quantum particles transmitting through a whole series of up to five potential barriers. This can be explained by invoking the effect known as Bose enhancement.
The effect might be useful in quantum simulation and quantum information processing, or for different physical settings, for instance electronic quantum devices, molecular or even biological systems.
To celebrate the world cup, here’s a related story. According to NASA scientists the new ball design avoids the pitfalls of the unpopular 2010 version. Players complained the official Jabulani ball from four years ago was too unpredictable—a result of the almost perfectly smooth design. With memories of 2010 still fresh, Adidas worked to create a more predictable piece of sports equipment this time around.
“Adidas spent two and a half years developing and refining the ball, making it the most tested ball we have ever created,” the company wrote in a product description posted on the FIFA website, where the balls sell for $160 each.
The behavior of the ball in air mostly depends on the thin layer of air that is called the boundary layer. “There is a thin layer of air that forms near the ball’s surface called the boundary layer, and it is the state and behavior of that layer that is critical to the performance of the ball,” explained Rabi Mehta, chief of the Experimental Aero-Physics Branch at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California.