A Quantum Leap in the world of physics

August 16, 2020

The revolutionary discovery made by the physicists at CERN opened up whole new vistas. The particle so-called “ Tetraquark “ was freshly revealed by the LHCb collaborators at CERN. By a process named “peer review” the treatise written by more than 800 authors is yet to be evaluated but has already been presented in a seminar. It even satisfies the usual statistical threshold for the discovery of new particles.


To understand the weightage of the discovery, we must precede backward to 1964 when particle physics was amidst a mutiny. In New Jersey, two young radio astronomers had just discovered the most potent evidence for the Big Bang Theory. On the other side of the US at Caltech and in CERN, Switzerland two particle physicists were publishing two independent papers on the tallying subject.


Many physicists struggled to concur that several elementary particles could exist in the universe, a concept called “particle zoo”. The question was if all these different particles were built of simpler particles akin to an atom constructed of protons, electrons, and neutrons?  George Zweig from Caltech and Murray Gell-Mann from CERN had struck upon the identical panacea. Gell-Mann opted for the term “quarks”.

There are six different quarks- up, down, charm, strange, top, bottom. These particles also have receptive antimatter companions with opposite charges which bind together with simple rules of symmetry. 


The exotic hadron was found as it decayed into two J/ψ  mesons each of which constitutes a charm quark and a charm antiquark. The particle is the first known tetraquark entirely made up of “heavy quarks”. ( Not the heaviest quark- top). “Up until now, the LHCb and other experiments had only observed tetraquarks with two heavy quarks at most and none with more than two quarks of the same type ” says Giovanni Passaleva, who just stepped down as the spokesperson of LHCb. The new tetraquark is dubbed X(6900), with the number referring to its mass of 6900 MeV/c2 (6.9 GeV/c2). The X denotes the fact that LHCb physicists are not yet confident about the key characteristics of the particle including its spin, parity and quark content.


A vital query encapsulating the tetraquarks is the nature of the internal structures. There is a strong force of interactions which is undoubtedly onerous to calculate. In a tetraquark, for example, the quarks and antiquarks could all be tightly bound together – or they could be arranged as two quark-antiquark pairs loosely bound in a molecule-like structure. Or indeed, a tetraquark could have a configuration somewhere between these two extremes.


The new outcome has proved to have the utmost gravity and offers climacteric evidence towards the behaviour of quarks.






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