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Neutrinos Instead of Quarks


  12:32:59 am, by Nimble   , 777 words  
Categories: Announcements [A]

Neutrinos Instead of Quarks

Every now and again, I run across peoples' pet theories that are actually pretty interesting. That doesn't make them right, but they're often good thought-provokers, and can point out a few spots where current theories fall down.

Brian DuPraw's theory on how subatomic particles may be made up of neutrinos, not quarks, is one of the more interesting ones.

See what you think

Quarks under the auspices of the Standard Model are the 'party line' theory. They are purported to make up protons, neutrons, and a number of other, more exotic particles. They either occur in threes, or in quark-antiquark pairs, and are never seen outside of particles.

Quarks, as stated, are ascribed some peculiar properties. For example, their electrical charges are either +/- 1/3 or +/- 2/3. Neutrons are neutrally charged, in this view, because they have one "up quark" (with +2/3 charge), and two "down quarks" (with -1/3 charge).

Quarks, as they were originally posited, shouldn't technically have been able to live together. Hence one of the stranger theories, if anything in quantum mechanics can be described as not strange, quantum chromodynamics. In this scheme, the three quarks in, say, a neutron, have three different "colours" - not actual colours, of course, but an intrinsic property that lets them live together. Quarks can't account for all the mass or internal force of a neutron, so there are posited colour-to-colour gluons that have a colour and anti-colour charge. Follow the reference, you will see they get quite strange.

The masses of the quarks, particularly the up quark (the lightest), are still under debate. DuPraw's axe to grind with the masses, e.g. why a rho meson (up quark+anti-down quark) has five and a half times the mass of the more common pion (also up quark+anti-down quark), is still an outstanding problem.

It seems to have been a long time since advances and discoveries were made in particle physics - most discoveries were made during the 70s. The holy grail of the standard model, the Higgs boson, has not been found. The Large Hadron Collider, scheduled to go online in 2007, is potentially the last opportunity to find it.

Perhaps it's time for a fresh approach?

I like the simplicity of the DuPraw's neutrino-based theory. It simplifies the building blocks considerably (neutrino, anti-neutrino, electron, positron), there's no need for fractional charges, and particle stability and decay seem better-explained.

There's one implication I believe his theory has that could be interesting. The standard explanation of why particles appear out of thin air is that there are virtual particles with no real mass constantly being created and destroyed, and if a photon of the right energy 'catches' one of these pairs, they absorb the energy, and become 'real'.

What if, on the other hand, the particles came into existence because the ubiquitous free neutrinos absorb the energy instead? DuPraw doesn't posit a mechanism for how neutrinos combine into particles - reasonable, because most of what we actually know in particle physics is how particles absorb (energy or other particles) and decay (bursting into multiple jets).

Food for thought.

Whether quark theory succeeds or fails won't make much difference to quantum mechanics and quantum computing as a whole, though - most of the theory and research deals with common particles (electrons, photons, atoms and ions) in interesting states.

Comment by Paul Pruitt [NOTE - we have banned dot-info domains, so add an 'o' to the link to get to his page]:

I thought the spirit of the whole theory is excellent. Really seeing the forest for the trees, although in this case I'm not an arborist of physics so can only judge the underlying sense of simplicity it seems to have.

Update/Comment by Ritchie:

It's pretty nifty. He has recently added an adjunct to his theory, which I would like to dissuade him from - it doesn't have the same feel or grounding as the rest.

What struck me as pretty interesting, with what he's got on that new page, is the sheer number of mesons, most with a very small step of mass between them. I'd posit a guess that mesons are a lot like atoms in their own right, with their own stabilities and the like, and that charged mesons are like ions. I'd rather see him link them back all the way to neutrinos again, and not dig up extremely tenuous patterns :) Also, him doing the legwork of finding out that complex nuclei are almost never formed in the chamber.

Interesting, all of it :)

Further Update:

Brian DuPraw has, unfortunately, decided to take his web page off the web...
That shouldn't deter us, though, because we have a means to view it courtesy of the Wayback Machine :)

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