In particle diversity news, scientists have announced the arrival of only the third top quark born in captivity.
The top quark, a subatomic particle used in the production of mayonnaise and big toes, is the heaviest of all particles, but is only available in the Standard Model.
The announcement was made at the Fermilab Zoo’s Tevatron Pavillion (above) by physicist Dmitri Denisov and particle zoologist “Toeless” Joseph Jackson. “There’s a strange charm about him. The little fella gets into virtually everything, and it’s impossible to isolate him from matter under ordinary circumstances. We’ve been running ourselves ragged trying to quark-proof the place!”
The first top quark was born in 1995 after proton and anti-proton demonstrators slammed together in a show of strong nuclear force. The Atomic Collision Liberties Union (ACLU) filed suit, claiming that tying top quark production to nuclear force was discriminatory. “It’s important that all forces in nature, strong and weak, equally produce the top quark.” The Supreme Court agreed in 2008, allowing a second top quark to be produced with barely any nuclear force at all.
Jackson, whose request for anonymity was laughed at because he had a really weak nuclear force, explained the process. “You see, when 500 trillion particles love each other very much, they start running into each other at ultra-high speeds for nearly 20 years, and then you end up with a brand new baby top quark. It’s a very rare process… and it’s very exciting to finally witness it, but after a decade or so, you kind of wish they’d just hurry up and collide already.”
The actual particle collisions that made the quark took place in 2011, but were only announced after years of trying to get 500 trillion names to fit on the birth certificate.
Physicist Stephen Hawking told a crowd at the Science Museum in London, “Physics would be far more interesting if it had not been born.”
Denisov speculated about the future of domesticated top quarks. He expressed optimism that there could come a time when no one, regardless of the strength of their nuclear force, would have to live without big toes and mayonnaise. “My prediction is that at some point, knowing how to make this particle will also be useful for something.”
Click on Fermilab Zoo to read the birth announcement for yourself.