Alternate View Column AV-20
Keywords: CU-CU maneuver, Cygnus X-3, solar neutrino, 5th force, antimatter, positron, quadrupole, Penning trap, CPT
Published in the June-1987 issue of Analog Science Fiction & Fact Magazine;
This column was written and submitted 11/4/86 and is copyrighted © 1986, John G. Cramer. All rights reserved.
No part may be reproduced in any form without the explicit permission of the author.
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This Alternate View column marks three milestones: This is the 3rd anniversary of my start as an AV columnist for Analog, this is the 20th AV column I've written, and it is also the 7th anniversary of my first publication in Analog. I enjoy writing these columns on scientific subjects, but it can be frustrating. Science is continually changing as new experimental results and observations are made, as new ideas and theories are conceived and old ideas are rejected. Often by the time an Alternate View column on some new development in physics or astronomy appears in these pages the field has already progressed further and there is more to be said. So this third anniversary column will be used as an occasion for a backward look at some of the subjects covered in previous columns and articles, giving an update on more recent developments. An index of my first 20 AV columns and articles is provided below. This can be used as a reference guide to indicate which topics were discussed in which columns and articles.
The CU-CU Maneuver (Column 4) - The Mid-December 1984 issue of Analog was a special Kelvin Throop humor issue, and for the occasion I announced the formation of the American Association for the Retardation of Science and Engineering (acronym: AARSE) which each year presents Gold Plated AARSE Awards to those who have done most in the recent past to retard the progress of science. Among the lucky winners of the 1984 presentations were Columbia University and Catholic University in recognition of their achievement of inventing the CU-CU maneuver, persuading a powerful congressman (Tip O'Neill) to place in the Department of Energy budget a "nest egg" starting construction of $34 million in new buildings on the Columbia and Catholic U campuses, preempting money intended for the support of ongoing research in nuclear and particle physics. The other "baby birds "are thus pushed from the nest in the style that the cuckoo has demonstrated so successfully in the avian world.
Now, from a perspective of several more years, the CU-CU maneuver has proven its staying power. It has been used with great effectiveness by more than a dozen universities with strong congressional clout and flexible ethics to raid budgets not only of the DOE but also of the Departments of Defense, Commerce, and Agriculture, and the National Institutes of Health. Academic pork barreling is now a growth industry, and the use of the peer review system for the selection of worthy scientific projects has become the "old fashioned" way of obtaining federal funds for university research. We have these distinguished institutions to thank for this contribution to creative finance. If there are future presentations of Gold Plated AARSE Awards, Columbia University and Catholic University are certain to be strong contenders for this highly sought-after distinction.
Proton Decay (Columns 1, 9, and 12) - There are four large underground experiments that have been searching for the decay of the proton for over three years now. At this writing (11/86), not one verifiable proton decay event has been observed in these experiments. This negative result has eliminated the grand unified theories (GUTs) that predicted an observable decay of the proton into lighter particles (a positron and a 90 meson, for example). Fortunately, there are plenty GUTs to go around. The surviving theories predict that the proton has such a long decay half life as to make proton decay experimentally unobservable. The universe seems to be made of more durable stuff than we had expected. Woody Allen should be pleased.
Cygnons and Cygnets (Column 12) - A spinoff of the massive experimental effort to detect proton decay is that quite unexpectedly some of these experiments have observed mysterious neutral particles coming from Cygnus X-3 (see also the discussion in "Stranger than Fiction: Cygnus X-3", Analog,13/86). My column 12 used the term "cygnon" for the unknown particle because this terminology was used by one of my references. However, the editors of Physical Review are sticklers on terminology and naming, and they decreed that the new particles are to be referred to as cygnets, not cygnons. As yet, there is no new experimental information on what these particles are, but the speculations continue.
Anomalons (Article A3) - Anamalons are the "accident prone" nuclei discussed in my 1983 science-fact article. They were "discovered" in emulsion experiments with cosmic rays and with high energy heavy ions at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory. Shortly after this Analog article was printed, they were christened "anomalons" because of the anomalously short distance they show between successive nuclear collisions. Since 1983 there have been a number of experiments designed to learn more about anomalons. It has become clear from these experiments that the anomanon is not a new particle. Unfortunately, it is an artifact of the emulsions in which they were "observed". This is one more case of an apparent "new phenomenon" that has been revealed as spurious.
The Solar Neutrino Problem (Column 13) - This column was written about a year ago about the Brookhaven solar neutrino detector, which for the past decade has detected only 1/3 of the expected number of neutrinos from the sun. In the past year a new solution to the problem of the missing neutrinos has been proposed. Neutrinos as they pass through the sun, should interact with the high density of electrons in the sun's interior. This interaction, under the right circumstances, can convert electron neutrinos into muon neutrinos which are undetectable by the Brookhaven apparatus. This explanation is now being taken quite seriously. It requires that electron and muon neutrinos do not have zero mass, but instead have extremely small masses, perhaps a billionth or less of an electron mass. This new theory has given added stimulus to the construction of new kinds of neutrino detectors using gallium or heavy water as the detector material. The lower energy solar neutrinos detected with these new devices would provide a stringent test of this new theory.
The Fifth Force (Column 15) - At this writing (11/86) the existence of the so called fifth force is still in doubt, 11 months after the publication of the paper that raised the issue. In laboratories around the world there are some 50 experiments being performed to detect effects of the fifth force, but there are no results which either eliminate the possibility of such a force or demonstrate it's existence. This important issue remains unsettled. There is a growing conviction among those working in this area, however, that if such a force exists, it is more likely to be related to baryon number, the number of neutrons and protons (or quarks/3) in a nucleus than to the more exotic concept of hypercharge. This is bad news for the science fiction "applications" of this phenomena, where one would like to use some nearly massless hypercharged particle to produce antigravity-like effects.
Antimatter Stars and Galaxies (Article A1) - My first science fact article for Analog in 1979, "Antimatter in the Universe" was a popular version of a paper that I had just published in Physical Review Letters. It described a way of telling whether a star in the process of supernova in a distant galaxy was made of matter or of antimatter. At the time the article was written, the possibility that neighboring galaxies might be made of antimatter was still quite a live issue. Since 1979, however, both experimental evidence and our understanding of cosmology have lead us to the strong conviction that the universe contains essentially all normal matter, with no antimatter stars and galaxies. Active stars produce a stream of protons called the "solar wind". For antimatter stars this would be a fairly strong source of antiprotons streaming into space. But measurements of the antiproton fraction in cosmic rays show only the tiny fraction of antiprotons produced by the collision of very high energy protons in cosmic rays with random gas molecules in space.
Moreover, the energetic gamma rays produced when antiprotons annihilate with normal matter are not seen in the quantities expected if nearby galaxies were sending antiprotons in our direction. There are also theoretical grounds from GUTs cosmology for expecting that the stars and galaxies of the universe are made of matter, never antimatter. Thus, the nifty trick for detecting an antimatter supernova has lost much of it's appeal because no antimatter supernovas are expected.
Trapped Antiprotons (Column 10) - The column described plans of a group at the University of Washington to trap accelerator-produced antiprotons in a Penning trap. Those plans were successful: in July of 1986 the group trapped about 6000 antiprotons from a beam supplied by the LEAR facility at the CERN laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland. The protons were slowed by passage through matter and passed into a strong cylindrical magnetic field. Electric "barrier fields" at the ends of the cylinder were switched on as the antiprotons passed through, trapping low energy protons in the system. They remained in the trap for several minutes until they finally were annihilated by combining with random gas molecules in the system. This was only a preliminary test, and both the trap and the vacuum system of the apparatus will be greatly improved before the work continues next year. But the very significant accomplishment of trapping a quantity of trapping antimatter essentially at rest has now been achieved. The use of antimatter as a material for use in laboratory experiments is no longer science fiction. The group plans to make detailed tests of matter-antimatter PCT symmetry. The also plan to combine antiprotons with positrons to form anti-hydrogen atoms and to address directly the question of whether anti-hydrogen falls down or up in a gravitational field.
Extra Dimensions (Column 6) - The Klein-Kaluza theory described in this 1985 column uses a total of 11 dimensions: time, the 3 normal space dimensions, and 7 "compactified" dimensions, to explain the four known forces of the universe in terms of extra-dimensional geometry. Since that time, however, a modification of the pure Klein-Kaluza theory called "superstring theory" has taken precedence and now is the focus of much of the activity in theoretical particle physics. Superstring theory (see "Superstrings" by Margaret Silbar in the February-86 Analog) describes fundamental particles like electrons, neutrinos, and quarks as tiny loops of "string" in a 10-dimensional space. Like the Klein-Kaluza model the extra dimensions in superstring theories are "compactified", connected back on themselves in tiny loops. But because the superstring itself provides an extra degree of freedom, there need be only 6 of these compactified dimensions in the superstring theory. Moreover, the prospect that there could be as many as 40 of these compactified dimensions is dimmed by the superstring theory because the symmetry of the system dictates fairly unambiguously that there should be no more than 9 space and one time dimension.
One interesting prediction made by superstring theories is the possible existence of "shadow matter" in our universe. Shadow matter particles are much like the familiar particles (quarks, electrons, etc.) of our world. But shadow particles interact only with each other, not with normal matter. We would notice them only through the gravitational effects of their mass. This raises the possibility that our universe is really two universes in one, each universe remaining aloof from the other and interacting only through the mutual force of gravity.
First 20 Alternate View Columns of John G. Cramer
Published in Analog Science Fiction/Fact (7/84 to 6/86)
(See also the comprehensive index of Cramer's Alternate View Columns)
# Issue Page Title Subject
1 07/84 85 When Proton Meets Monopole Proton decay and monopole
2 09/84 95 Other Universes I GUTS cosmology and bubble universes
3 11/84 141 Other Universes II Everett-Wheeler interpretation of QM
4 13/84 142 The Retarding of Science Political satire and AARSE Awards
5 02/85 116 The Dark Side of the Force of Gravity* The dark matter problem
6 04/85 121 The Other 40 Dimensions The Klein-Kaluza theory
7 06/85 144 Light in Reverse Gear I Laser 4-wave mixer
8 08/85 132 Light in Reverse Gear II Advanced radiation
9 10/85 118 In The Fullness of Time The universe in the far future
10 12/85 142 Antimatter in a Trap Penning traps for antiprotons
11 01/86 124 The Pump of Evolution A solution to the Fermi Paradox
12 03/86 117 Children of the Swan Mysterious Cygnus X-3 particles
13 05/86 127 Neutrinos and WIMPs Detection of solar neutrinos
14 07/86 125 Antigravity I: Negative Mass The gravitation of negative mass
15 09/86 125 Antigravity II: A Fifth Force?* Hyperforce and the Eötvös Experiment
16 11/86 93 The Quantum Handshake Transactional interpretation of QM
17 13/86 126 Super Atoms and Super Fields Positrons from Z>173 "atoms"
18 02/87 ? Artificial Gravity: Which way is Up? Centrifugal gravity in space habitats
19 04/86 ? Strings and Things Cosmic strings
20 06/86 ? Recent Results
Other Analog Science-Fact Articles by John G. Cramer
# Issue Page Title Subject
A1 11/79 53 Antimatter in the Universe Finding antimatter galaxies
A2 11/81 5 Territoriality of Space Exploration+ What Neil Armstrong should have done.
A3 02/83 62 New Phenomena Superluminals, anomalons, free quarks
A4 09/83 96 Again Monopoles The Valentine's Day monopole
This page was created by John G. Cramer on 7/12/96.