Discovery of Mysterious Particle Ends Decades of Searching

An elusive particle that is its own antiparticle may have been found, and, if confirmed, would be the first time a phenomenon predicted decades ago has been seen in a real system. Some researchers suggest that in the future, this mysterious particle called a Majorana fermion could be useful in carrying bits of information in quantum computers.

In a paper published in the journal Science Thursday, Vincent Mourik and Leo P. Kouwenhoven said they were able to make the Majorana fermions appear by exposing a small circuit to a magnetic field. Until now, the only suggestion of the particle’s existence was a theory posed by Italian physicist Ettore Majorana in 1937, who predicted the Majorana fermion.

While the evidence is strong, there are still more experiments to do to confirm the finding. But that may be fitting: Majorana himself was, by many accounts, a brilliant physicist. But in 1938, he took a boat trip from Naples to Palermo and disappeared. His body was never found, and the circumstances of his disappearance have remained mysterious.

Unlike more conventional particles, Majoranas are “quasiparticles,” which arise from the collective properties of a material. This happens in more ordinary areas as well; for example, in solid-state electronics, electrons carry negative charges, while they leave behind “holes” with a positive charge; these holes behave just like real particles, even though they appear only because of the behavior of electrons.

If the finding is confirmed, Majoranas offer an easier way of storing information in quantum computers, which currently rely on atoms; these atoms become unstable with even a small disturbance, while Majoranas would be much easier to keep stable.

Do you think the discovery of the Majoranas could lead to another scientific breakthrough? Tell us your thoughts!

Source: Yahoo News

Image: World News

Why is the ‘God Particle’ Important?

Scientists say they have found hints of the existence of the Higgs boson, a never-before-seen subatomic particle long thought to be a fundamental building block of the universe.

In a highly anticipated press conference, researchers announced that two independent experiments at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva have turned up signs of the so-called “God particle.”

“The Higgs boson is the last missing piece of our current understanding of the most fundamental nature of the universe,” Martin Archer, a physicist at Imperial College in London, told CNN. “Only now with the LHC are we able to really tick that box off and say ‘This is how the universe works, or at least we think it does’.”

The popular nickname for the elusive particle was created for the title of a book by Nobel Prize winning physicist Leon Lederman — reportedly against his will, as Lederman has said he wanted to call it the “Goddamn Particle” because “nobody could find the thing.” For the past year scientists have searched for the Higgs boson by smashing protons together at high energy in the $10 billion Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland, “hoping that somewhere in these collisions that you see something … some sort of a statistical bump,” says Archer.

Martin Archer believes a failure to find the Higgs boson would be even more exciting than discovering the elusive particle because “it actually means that the universe at the most fundamental level is more complicated than we thought,” says Archer, “and therefore maybe the way we’ve been attacking physics isn’t right.”



Image: National Geographic