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The incredible shrinking proton

Subatomic particle may be smaller than theory dictates

3:46pm, July 7, 2010

Nothing is immune to downsizing in these tough economic times — not even subatomic particles. New measurements published in the July 8 Nature suggest that the proton has a radius about 4 percent smaller than previously thought.

The result could just be a mistake. But if confirmed, a smaller proton could have enormous implications, scientists say.

“If this result holds up there’s something drastically wrong,” says Jeff Flowers of the National Physical Laboratory in England.

It could be that there’s a problem with quantum electrodynamics, a major unifying theory that’s been called the jewel of physics. QED basically describes how light and matter interact by in

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