MADISON - When the world's most powerful particle accelerator starts up later this year, exotic new particles may offer a glimpse of the existence and shapes of extra dimensions.
Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of California-Berkeley say that the telltale signatures left by a new class of particles could distinguish between possible shapes of the extra spatial dimensions predicted by string theory.
String theory, which describes the fundamental particles of the universe as tiny vibrating strings of energy, suggests the existence of six or seven unseen spatial dimensions in addition to the time and three space dimensions that we normally see.
Much as the shape of a musical instrument determines its sound, the shape of these dimensions determines the properties and behavior of our four-dimensional universe, says Gary Shiu, lead author of a paper appearing in the Jan. 25 issue of Physical Review Letters.
"The shape of the dimensions is crucial because, in string theory, the way the string vibrates determines the pattern of particle masses and the forces that we feel," says the UW-Madison physics professor.
Zeroing in on that shape should further our understanding and predictions of our four-dimensional world, Shiu says. "There are myriad possibilities for the shapes of the extra dimensions out there. It would be useful to know a way to distinguish one from another and perhaps use experimental data to narrow down the set of possibilities."
Such experimental evidence could appear in data from a new particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider, scheduled to begin operating later this year near Geneva, Switzerland.
In an accelerator, smashing atomic nuclei head-on at nearly the speed of light can briefly create new high-energy and highly unstable particles, which quickly decay into a shower of detectable lower energy ones. Characteristic patterns of decay serve
|Contact: Gary Shiu|
University of Wisconsin-Madison