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The Subatomic Dance: Uncovering the Secrets of the Beginning of the Universe

Article Originally published in the April 2006 issue of CLASnotes.

Under the leadership of UF physicist Jacobo Konigsberg, scientists at the Collider Detector at Fermilab (CDF) announced the precise measurement of extremely rapid transitions between matter and antimatter – an astounding 3 trillion times per second.

CDF physicists measured the matter-antimatter transition rate for the Bs (pronounced "B sub s") meson.  The meson is composed of a heavy bottom quark bound by the strong nuclear interaction to a strange anti-quark. The transition rate was found to be 3 trillion times per second, measured to a precision of 2 percent.

By measuring these transition rates, scientists hope to understand how strange, charm and bottom quarks interact with one another and why they exist.  Although these particles do not exist in nature today, they were present in large quantities in the early universe, and an understanding of them in crucial in understanding the development of the universe.  These particles can only be created today in large particle accelerators.

"If you think of matter and antimatter as performing a dance with each other, then we have measured the incredibly rapid tempo of that dance," said CDF cospokesperson Jacobo Konigsberg. "The Tevatron physics program has offered the promise of making such a precision measurement, and it has delivered on that promise. The collaboration was intensely focused on mining this measurement away from Nature."

The CDF is a collaboration of 700 scientists from 27 leading academic institutions.  Fermilab is a Department of Energy Office of Science national laboratory operated under contract by Universities Research Association, Inc.

Konigsberg has been invited to head the CDF for the next two years.  He his duties include monitoring scientific results, including research publications. He also is charged with ensuring the smooth running of the technology underpinning the experiments. Visit http://www.fnal.gov/pub/presspass/press_releases/CDF_04-11-06.html to read the entire release.

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Buffy Lockette

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