August 21, 2013 Leave a comment
Earlier this year, a team of scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, led by Randolf Pohl, made a highly accurate calculation of the diameter of a proton and, at .841 fm, it turned out to be 4% less than previously determined (.877 fm). Trouble is, the previous measurements were also highly accurate. The significant difference between the two types of measurement was the choice of interaction particle: in the traditional case, electrons, and in Pohl’s case, muons.
Figures have been checked and rechecked and both types of measurements are solid. All sorts of crazy explanations have been offered up for the discrepancy, but one thing seems certain: we they don’t really understand matter.
Ancient Greeks thought that atoms were indivisible (hence, the name), at least until Rutherford showed otherwise in the early 1900s. Ancient 20th-century scientists thought that protons were indivisible, at least until Gell-Mann showed otherwise in the 1960s.
So why would it be such a surprise that the diameter of a proton varies with the type of lepton cloud that surrounds and passes through it? Maybe the proton is flexible, like a sponge, and a muon, at 200 times the weight of an electron, exerts a much higher contractive force on it – gravity, strong nuclear, Jedi, or what have you. Just make the measurements and modify your theory, guys. You’ll be .000001% closer to the truth, enough to warrant an even bigger publicly funded particle accelerator.
If particle sizes and masses aren’t invariant, who is to say that they don’t change over time. Cosmologist Christof Wetterich of the University of Heidelberg thinks this might be possible. In fact, says Wetterich, if particles are slowly increasing in size, the universe may not be expanding after all. His recent paper suggests that spectral red shift, Hubble’s famous discovery at Mount Wilson, that led the most widely accepted theory of the universe – the big bang, may actually be due to changing particle sizes over time. So far, no one has been able to shoot a hole in his theory.
Oops. “Remember what we said about the big bang being a FACT? Never mind.”
Flexi-particles. Now there is both evidence and major philosophical repercussions.
The ultimate in flexibility is pure data.