Large Hadron Collider discovers new form of quarkonium

Eureka! Quarkonium! We've found it! While it's not a Higgs boson or anything, it's still pretty cool that the Large Hadron Collider has finally found something that's both brand new and named after everyone's second-favorite Ferengi.

There are lots of different types of quarkonium: you get it when you pair one quark (which is one of the basic constituents of things like protons and neutrons) with it's own antiquark (which is just like a quark, except with an opposite sign, the same way that matter and antimatter are related). Generally, when you combine matter and antimatter, stuff blows up, but quarkonium can be briefly held together (for at most a few hundred millionths of a second) by the same strong force that binds protons and neutrons.

The type of quarkonium that the LHC just discovered is a state of (and I'm totally not making this up) "bottomonium," since it's made up of a bottom quark and bottom antiquark. Specifically, it's the "χb(3P)" particle (or state, if you prefer), which is pronounced "kye-bee three pee." Particle physicists had predicted its existence, but we'd never seen one before, until it was discovered inside the LHC by researchers from the University of Birmingham and Lancaster University.

So, what's bottomonium quarkonium going to do for us now that we've discovered a new type of it? Well, uh, it's not going to let us make warp drives or gold-pressed latinum, but it may help us understand how the universe is held together. Meh, I guess that'll just have to do.

arXiv, via Slashdot

For the latest tech stories, follow DVICE on Twitter
at @dvice or find us on Facebook