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I "Melting Quarks"?

  1. Nov 6, 2017 #1
    Okay, I've been seeing the following story circulating around various websites. I get the feeling that it's a scam, but I don't want to prejudge it. So I thought I'd ask the various experts about what they think of it.

    Melting quarks can produce 10 times the energy of nuclear fusion - HEALTH & SCIENCE - Jerusalem Post

    Now, there are various reasons I think there's something wrong here, but I'm not sure if it's as a result of the science itself, or if it's as a result of a poorly written article, or both? In one paragraph, they wrote:

    Now, obviously there is no way that a baryon is a "new" particle, we've known about baryons for decades, as they are just the protons and neutrons. I'm thinking that this is just poor reporting, from a reporter who doesn't understand particle physics. At least I sure hope the scientists involved in this study didn't claim to have discovered a baryon.

    Also, a baryon made with some charm quarks is obviously going to have higher energy than a baryon made with standard up/down quarks, but that's obvious based on their masses. But even regular fusion involves quarks reacting. So this term "melting quarks" sounds very marketing-driven, which I another reason I am skeptical about this.

    And finally, in another article about this story, they quoted one of the scientists as saying that they nearly buried this research, and that they feared it might be a "planet killer" bomb. But later they said this research has little to no practical applications! It all sounds like a big joke.

    'Breakthrough' in nuclear fusion produced by melting quarks
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 6, 2017 #2

    fresh_42

    Staff: Mentor

    Published here (pay wall): https://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v551/n7678/full/nature24289.html

    Quark-level analogue of nuclear fusion with doubly heavy baryons
    Marek Karliner & Jonathan L. Rosner

    Nature, 551, 89–91 (02 November 2017) doi:10.1038/nature24289
    Received 16 August 2017 Accepted 18 September 2017 Published online 01 November 2017

     
  4. Nov 6, 2017 #3
    Thanks, so they are not actually claiming actual observation of a new fusion process, they are only claiming to have done theoretical calculations and/or simulations on a computer?
     
  5. Nov 6, 2017 #4

    fresh_42

    Staff: Mentor

    It seems so, yes: (https://phys.org/news/2017-11-theoretical-quark-fusion-powerful-hydrogen.html)
    In addition this would be a one time only experiment, i.e. no chain reactions or multiple occurrences, which means that it cannot be used - at least not in combination with words like "fusion", "bomb" or similar nonsense.
     
  6. Nov 6, 2017 #5
  7. Nov 6, 2017 #6

    mfb

    User Avatar
    2016 Award

    Staff: Mentor

    There are so many bad news reports about this.

    The authors just used masses of hadrons measured by others, extrapolated to two undiscovered hadrons and then did some additions and subtractions of masses.

    ##\Lambda_c^+## lives about 0.2 picoseconds as it can only decay via the weak interaction. In the very unlikely case that LHC collisions produce two of them, and they form close together, and hit each other, they might react to produce ##\Xi_{cc} n##. That would release a bit of energy - but only energy we put in before, and just 13 MeV out of the initial 13 TeV, the remaining 99.9999% are released elsewhere. All these particles only decay via the weak interaction, so in principle they can live long enough for these reactions. It is unclear if the collision of two hadrons after hadronization can happen at all as the geometry would have to be very odd, and it is unclear if that would be observable at all. The authors don't investigate this, they just focus on the theoretical reactions if these hadrons hit each other. The analog reaction with b-quarks instead of c-quarks would be even less frequent.
     
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