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The incredible shrinking proton

Subatomic particle may be smaller than theory dictates

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.

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