The Toe of God

Scientists from the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, or Fermilab, for short, have submitted a paper to the Physical Review of some very interesting findings. The team of scientists, called the D0 Collaboration, measured a charge asymmetry 3.2 standard deviations away from that predicted from the Standard Model in the mixing of neutral B mesons — providing evidence towards CP-violation. CP-symmetry, in a nutshell, theorizes that a particle should follow the same laws of physics if its charge were interchanged and its parity were swapped. This leads back to the question of why the universe is composed of mostly matter and not anti-matter.

Now, I’m an engineer, not a physicist. I can read papers from IEEE all day. But stick a paper in front of me from Fermilab and I’ll just stare at it all googly-eyed. I just don’t have the background to understand this stuff. Regardless of my shortcomings, what’s really cool though is that the paper, posted on the Internet and downloadable at this link, has an authors list that’s over a page long and includes researchers from 81 universities worldwide from the following countries: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Czech Republic, Ecuador, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Korea, The Netherlands, Russia, Sweden, UK, and USA. It’s an astounding list and I wish I could understand all the terminology in the paper. Unfortunately, I can barely understand the abstract.

So why post this when I can’t really even understand the paper? Well, for one, I wanted to post this awesome quote from the NYTimes article on it:

Joe Lykken, a theorist at Fermilab, said, “So I would not say that this announcement is the equivalent of seeing the face of God, but it might turn out to be the toe of God.”

Also, for two summers, I worked at Fermilab learning how to solder. So whenever I hear any news coming from there, I get giddy because (even though my contribution was pretty small in the grand scheme of things) I helped to implement “slip stacking” for Fermilab’s Main Injector. Slip stacking is a method to increase the density of the proton beams used in the collisions through RF control. Fermilab is the place where my journey as an engineer really began.