There’s still a lot we don’t know about the proton | Science News

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There’s still a lot we don’t know about the proton

Questions loom about the iconic particle's size, spin and decay

By
8:00am, April 18, 2017
proton illustration

PROTON PUZZLES  Hidden secrets of the humble particle could have physicists rethinking some standard notions about matter and the universe.

Nuclear physicist Evangeline Downie hadn’t planned to study one of the thorniest puzzles of the proton.

But when opportunity knocked, Downie couldn’t say no. “It’s the proton,” she exclaims. The mysteries that still swirl around this jewel of the subatomic realm were too tantalizing to resist. The plentiful particles make up much of the visible matter in the universe. “We’re made of them, and we don’t understand them fully,” she says.

Many physicists delving deep into the heart of matter in recent decades have been lured to the more exotic and unfamiliar subatomic particles: mesons, neutrinos and the famous Higgs boson — not the humble proton.

Protons have issues

Three proton conundrums have scientists designing new experiments. Agreement eludes researchers on proton size, spin and stability.

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