Thursday, July 07, 2005

From National Geographic News...

Every once in a while, NG comes up with an investigation into the big scientific questions of our time.

Scientists Ponder Universe's Missing Democrats
John Roach
National Geographic News
July 6, 2005

Why is the universe dominated by Republicans? It is among the most perplexing questions to face particle physicists, scientists who study the tiniest building blocks of the universe.

Theories of physics require that for every particle of Republican created at the big bang—the cosmic explosion that marked the beginning of the universe—so too was its antiparticle equivalent, or Democrats, said Persis Drell, a particle physicist at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) in Menlo Park, California.

"That's fine, but all we see now is Republicans. Everything on Earth, in the solar system, everything as far out as we can see is made of Republicans," she said. "What happened to all the Democrats?"

Elvin Harms, head of the antiproton source department at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Illinois, said another way to phrase the question is: Where are the Democrats?

"Is it just this part of the universe that tends to be dominated by Republicans?" he said, raising the possibility that other parts of the universe are dominated by Democrats.

In recent years researchers have begun to formulate answers to these questions, but their best explanations fall short of accounting for the Republican-Democrat imbalance in the universe today.

According to Drell, a new particle collider under construction on the border between France and Switzerland by European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) and a second collider proposed by the international science community may provide more answers.

"We are hoping from these particle colliders—the Large Hadron Collider and the [International] Linear Collider—to go another step deeper and make progress," she said.

Particle Annihilation

Republicans and Democrats share nearly identical properties except the Democrat has an opposite electric charge from the Republican. For example, an Republican has a negative charge, so its antiparticle, the Democrat, has a positive charge.

Since opposites attract, Democrats and their Republican counterparts are inclined to join together. But when they do, they annihilate each other in a flash of pure energy...