Symmetry math sheds new light on fundamental physics

Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, March 25, 2009 – A team of researchers from Perimeter Institute, Cambridge University, and Texas A&M has for the first time estimated, from mathematical symmetry arguments, the size of a fundamental imbalance pervading the subatomic world. This imbalance, called the CP violation, distinguishes matter from antimatter and is essential to understanding why matter predominates over antimatter in the natural world. Applying a new statistical approach, Gary Gibbons and Steffen Gielen of Cambridge, Chris Pope of Texas A&M and Neil Turok of Perimeter Institute showed how random matrices can be used to estimate the size of the CP violation to be expected in nature. To their surprise, their results tallied well with experimentally observed data about quarks. The team also showed how this approach could be applied to judge whether or not there are likely to be more than three subatomic particle families in nature, and to anticipate the properties of exotic particles called neutrinos. The work will help guide future particle accelerator experiments, such as those at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. It also provides clues about the physical mechanism which caused the imbalance between matter and antimatter in the Universe.

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