The long search is over for Princeton University scientists who claim they have discovered a particle, an elusive particle, that has the characteristics of both matter and antimatter.
This discovery was published online at the journal Science.
Already speculation as to what this new particle will be applicable for are being bounced around by scientists. Many people had been taught that if matter came into contact with antimatter that the two would annihilate one another in a burst of powerful energy. Antimatter is rare and to find a particle that has both matter and its antimatter characteristics is enough to make everyone stand up and take notice.
Known as the Majorana fermion, after it’s Italian physicist theorist Ettore Majorana, who postulated it in 1937, this new particle is just what he had envisioned. Scientists had been hunting for the particle for almost 80 years. The Princeton team engineered a basic experiment to see what they referred to as an “emergent particles” that can be found inside a material instead in the vacuum of a giant collider like the Large Hadron Collider that recently discovered the Higgs Boson particle or “God Particle”.
Scientists are practically leaping with joy as this discovery might lead to applications in the quantum computing field.
The researchers achieved this amazing observation by placing a thin, long chain of magnetic iron atoms that were pure on a superconductor constructed from lead. Cooling the materials to -457 degrees Fahrenheit and looked the the results via a 20ft tall scanning tunneling microscope. Suddenly, bingo, the researchers discovered an electrically neutral signal found at the ends of the wires made of iron. This observation the “key signature” that led them to determine they had found that elusive Majorana Fermion once and for all.
Again, the application for quantum computing means that now the engineers can make a quantum bit, the first stage in making a quantum computer.
For over 70 years this particle had been sought after. Theorized and debated. Some other scientists caution that its too early to make all the claims that the research teams are making and that further testing and observation be done to make the discover conclusive. If all pans out and quantum computing becomes feasible, the entire world will be looking at a new age of computing the likes of which only science fiction writers could come up with.
This discovery indeed must have further research before a practical application can be done and it may be several years before anything hits the store shelves but then again there’s no telling. In today’s computing and commerce driven society the competition is so fierce that even with agreed upon regulation there will be those who will breach it for monetary gain.
Mr. Majorana’s theory is now reality. The second groundbreaking particle physics change since the Higgs Boson discovery of a few years ago.