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New analysis boosts case for smaller proton

Controversy continues over size of subatomic particle’s radius

7:00am, November 14, 2016
Mainz Microtron

PETITE PROTON  An electron scattering experiment (shown) at the Mainz Microtron in Germany may have found evidence that supports the case for a smaller proton, according to a new analysis of old data.

Editor’s Note: After this article was published, Horbatsch and colleagues discovered an error in their analysis, which weakened the conclusions. The new calculation of the proton radius falls in between the two previous estimates, and therefore does not add much additional support for the smaller proton.

A spat over the size of the proton just got a bit more complicated.

Measurements of the proton’s radius disagree, with one group of scientists saying it’s smaller than the accepted estimate. Now, a new analysis of old data bolsters the case for a small proton. But the result may dash hopes that the discrepancy could point the way to new physics.

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