Por uma fração de tempo, cientistas podem ter quebrado uma lei da Física

quarta-feira, março 31, 2010

For One Tiny Instant, Physicists May Have Broken a Law of Nature

ScienceDaily (Mar. 30, 2010) — For a brief instant, it appears, scientists at Brook haven National Laboratory on Long Island recently discovered a law of nature had been broken.

This image of a full-energy collision between gold ions shows the paths taken by thousands of subatomic particles produced during the impact. (Credit: Image courtesy of Yale University)

Action still resulted in an equal and opposite reaction, gravity kept the Earth circling the Sun, and conservation of energy remained intact. But for the tiniest fraction of a second at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC), physicists created a symmetry-breaking bubble of space where parity no longer existed.

Parity was long thought to be a fundamental law of nature. It essentially states that the universe is neither right- nor left-handed -- that the laws of physics remain unchanged when expressed in inverted coordinates. In the early 1950s it was found that the so-called weak force, which is responsible for nuclear radioactivity, breaks the parity law. However, the strong force, which holds together subatomic particles, was thought to adhere to the law of parity, at least under normal circumstances.

Now this law appears to have been broken by a team of about a dozen particle physicists, including Jack Sandweiss, Yale's Donner Professor of Physics. Since 2000, Sandweiss has been smashing the nuclei of gold atoms together as part of the STAR experiment at RHIC, a 2.4-mile-circumference particle accelerator, to study the law of parity under the resulting extreme conditions.

The team created something called a quark-gluon plasma -- a kind of "soup" that results when energies reach high enough levels to break up protons and neutrons into their constituent quarks and gluons, the fundamental building blocks of matter.

Theorists believe this kind of quark-gluon plasma, which has a temperature of four trillion degrees Celsius, existed just after the Big Bang, when the universe was only a microsecond old. The plasma "bubble" created in the collisions at RHIC lasted for a mere millionth of a billionth of a billionth of a second, yet the team hopes to use it to learn more about how structure in the universe -- from black holes to galaxies -- may have formed out of the soup.

Read more here/Leia mais aqui: Science Daily