Feeds

'Negatively strange' antihypermatter made out of gold

Atomsmash boffins' reverse alchemy bizarro-stuff triumph

New hybrid storage solutions

Topflight international reverse-alchemy boffins say they have managed to transmute gold into an entirely new form of "negatively strange" antihypernucleic antimatter, ultra-bizarre stuff which cannot possibly occur naturally - except perhaps inside the cores of collapsed stars.

The transmutation was carried out at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC), a powerful* atom-smasher located at America's Brookhaven National Laboratory. Blasting a pair of high-energy gold nuclei into each other as is their wont, RHIC boffins found they had created something very odd indeed.

Matter arranged by atomic number, neutrons and strangeness. Credit: Brookhaven National Lab

Sometimes there is more strangeness than none at all. Or less.

Essentially, according to their explanation, you've got your regular old Periodic Table of elements, which no doubt we all recall at least dimly from skool, which is based on the number of protons (Z) in an atom's nucleus. Then different isotopes of each element have differing numbers of neutrons (N), as in the case of hydrogen, deuterium and tritium (a proton and no, one or two neutrons).

Regular old boring antimatter, having antiprotons and antineutrons, simply has minus values of Z and N. Easy peasy.

But more advanced boffinry also calls for a third axis showing the number of "strange" quarks present - normal protons and neutrons contain only "up" and "down" quarks. An isotope containing one or more "strange" quarks is a hypernucleus, lying above the regular chart of stuff and anti-stuff on the Strangeness (S) axis.

All previous matter and antimatter seen had been normal or positively-strange hypernucleic sorts. But international boffins analysing the RHIC gold-buster results have now discovered a an anti-deuterium nucleus containing an antiproton, an antineutron - and, gobsmackingly - an "anti-strange" quark. It is thus a "negatively strange"** anti-hypernucleus lying below the plane of ordinary matter and antimatter, the first stuff ever known to do so.

“This experimental discovery may have unprecedented consequences for our view of the world,” comments Horst Stoecker, German boffinry chief. “This antimatter pushes open the door to new dimensions in the nuclear chart — an idea that just a few years ago, would have been viewed as impossible.”

Jinhui Chen, lead scientist probing the strangely-strange antimatter, believes that this confirmation that such bizarro-stuff can exist may help to explain what happens in such extreme cosmic environments as the heart of a collapsar.

“The strangeness value could be non-zero" [in such places] says Chen, a statement with which no doubt most would agree.

The nega-strange anti-deuterium was produced, according to a Brookhaven statement, probably not so much from the actual gold banging together at lightspeed but rather "from the quantum vacuum via the conversion of energy into mass in accordance with Einsteins famous equation E = mc2". It was detected by the Solenoidal Tracker At RHIC (STAR) detector complex.

Chen and his colleagues' research is published this week by Science Express, here. ®

Bootnote

*Though not, of course, to compare with the big daddy of the particle-punishment world, the Large Hadron Collider outside Geneva. However the RHIC has been around a lot longer and its teething troubles are well behind it, meaning that it is at the moment rather more useful.

**We would suggest a special name for the quality of negative strangeness. Perhaps "ultramundanity" or "hyper-boringness".

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Thought that last dinosaur was BIG? This one's bloody ENORMOUS
Weighed several adult elephants, contend boffins
Chelyabinsk-sized SURPRISE asteroid to skim Earth, satnav birds
Space rock appears out of nowhere, buzzes planet on Sunday
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
'Duck face' selfie in SPAAAACE: Rosetta's snap with bird comet
Probe prepares to make first landing on fast-moving rock
Square Kilometre Array reveals its 1.6TB-a-day storage and network rigs
Boolardy Engineering Test Array - aka BETA - is about to come out of Beta
LOHAN invites ENTIRE REG READERSHIP to New Mexico shindig
Well, those of you who back our Kickstarter tin-rattling...
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.