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Particle decays hint at new matter

8:34pm, September 14, 2003

Unexpected observations at a Japanese particle accelerator may signal the presence of previously unknown subatomic matter.

The conjecture, from the so-called Belle team at the High Energy Accelerator Research Organization (KEK) in Tsukuba, was inspired by the team's measurements of a specific type of decay of fundamental particles called bottom, or b, quarks and their antimatter counterparts, anti-b quarks.

Such measurements may ultimately help explain why there is so little antimatter in the universe, although matter and antimatter were presumably created equally in the Big Bang. The measurements could also point to alternatives to the prevailing theory of particle physics, known as the standard model.

Theorists have calculated just how different the decay rates of b and anti-b quarks should be. The predicted value for the newly measured disparity, which is a type of so-called charge-parity (CP) violation, is 0.73 ± 0.06.

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