Tuesday, 11 September 2012

How Small Can Things Go?

by Ross Watkins


Graphs with data confirming existence of holons and spinons
(source: Cambridge University)

Until recently, scientists have thought it impossible to split the elementary particles and that they are the basis of all matter. But two scientists have now managed to split the electron into two new quasi-particles which carry the two properties of electrons. They are called holons and spinons. This is amazing as, before this, it was thought impossible to split the elementary particles.
This really leaves the thought of how small particles can get. Of course, there will have to be something which creates everything else, and therefore it was this that, after the Big Bang, joined together to create the universe we have today. Of course, there are many theories which suggest what this smallest particle must be.
One to note is String Theory, which argues that all matter is made up of vibrating “strings” or “loops” which, depending on the frequency of the “string” (or “loop”), will be a different particle. If this proves correct, the smallest thing full stop would be the “string” or “loop”.  But this is not at all conclusive and the theory has many flaws. This also throws into question the Higgs Boson or "God Particle", the particle that give all others their weight. It has just recently been confirmed and has been put on the list of elementary particles. However, the splitting of the electron calls this particle into question. Does it give weight or does some other particle inside it do that job?

In fact, this could mean an overhaul of all the elementary particles over time, because, for now, we do not have the right equipment to create the energy needed to split these so-called elementary particles. But why do we keep building multi-million (or even billion) dollar constructions to find the smallest particle? I believe that it is the human trait of curiosity that keeps us going, even though, at the moment, it seems to have no use to mankind. 

Supercollider
(source: michaelsguardian.blogspot)



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