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No. 37: Jan-Feb 1985

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Squarks and photinos at cern?

At the CERN lab, in Geneva, physicists shoot protons and antiprotons at each other so that they collide head-on. The colliding particles usually fragment one another and in the process release a variety of subatomic debris and energy. Large arrays of detectors surrounding the collision site record the particles as they streak away. Usually the escaping particles can be easily identified; but in 1983 nine strange events were recorded, and more have occurred in 1984. Something both invisible and inexplicable carried off large amounts of energy during these "strange" events. Physicist Carlos Rubbia, of CERN and Harvard, said:

"There is no sensible way to explain the missing energy by known particles."

Some theorists believe that these anomalous events will be explained only by invoking what is termed "supersymmetry" theory. Supersymmetry predicts that twice as many particles as those known today must exist. Already, physicists are rushing to name the new, though unverified particles. The symmetric partner of the "quarks" will be the "squarks"; the "photon" will be paired with the "photino"; there will be the "selectron" for the "electron"; and so on.

(Thomsen, D.E.; "Strange Happenings at CERN," Science News, 126:292, 1984.)

From Science Frontiers #37, JAN-FEB 1985. � 1985-2000 William R. Corliss