Quarks of nature


In matter-that-doesn’t news, the recent discovery of a four-quark something or other has triggered a new round of physics gang warfare.

The new particles go by the name Z(4430).  Physicists give these particles names starting with the letter Z because all the good letters, like M and G, are already taken.  The number is derived from the fact that the particle showed up sometime between 4:00 and 4:30, while scientists were out having afternoon tea.  “I just came back, and there were these 4 quarks laying on the floor of the collider.  They weren’t there when we left, but we’re not sure exactly when they showed up.”

In 2008, the Belle Collaboration*, a street gang of Hot and/or Bright Disney heroines, announced it saw the world’s first evidence of Z(4430) in Japan.  Then another group, led by the elephant king BaBar, ran its own experiments in California. BaBar said their results could be explained by something else, probably swamp gas or a weather balloon.

Eric Swanson, a University of Pittsburgh particle physicist and member of the Cabal of Extremely Rambunctious Nerds (CERN), claimed that both gangs were lying.  “Where they’re really being created is in the LHC (Living Hell Contraption) in Geneva.”  Swanson said the CERN claims had a statistical significance of 13.9 sigma which is far, far beyond 5 sigma. (Editor’s note: By a factor of nearly 8.9 sigmas, which is a crapload of sigmas, let me tell you.)  He offered no explanation as to why they couldn’t finish that 14th sigma before the announcement.

EMILIE DE RAVINbabar-elephant

At a conference, Swanson nabbed Belle (l) and BaBar (r) and challenged them to a rumble.  “Then I watched as they had a fight.  It was pleasant — a lot of dancing and singing about some girl named Maria that BaBar had just met — but I have to admit I left that rumble confused.”

Swanson later claimed he wasn’t involved in the CERN research or the rumble, but no one believed him.

Speaking for the Belle Collaboration, Hot and Bright Star Natalie Portman (shown at top preparing to fight the BaBarians at the gate) told reporters, “Z particles would have been abundant in the universe a microsecond after the Big Bang.  After that, they would have fallen apart, which is typical of the cheap junk particles produced during the Big Bang.”

* Spoiler Warning: This article contains plot and character information from the upcoming film The Belle Collaboration, based on the novel by Robert Ludlum, starring Natalie Portman, Emilie de Ravin, and Babar as BaBar.

You can try to read CERN’s paper at arXiv, but it won’t make any more sense to you than it did to me or anyone else who read it.  Or you can click on the collaborator at the top to read the original article.

Editor’s Note: Shortly after this article went to publication, the Kepler Space Telescope announced that it had discovered the Z(4430) particle and named it Kepler-4430.

3 thoughts on “Quarks of nature

  1. I’m actually kind of curious if the Total Quality Management methods get applied to particle physics since it seems like the prospect of six-sigma getting into this will only end well.

  2. Joseph, I suspect that if we applied six-sigma standards to scientific endeavors, environmentalists would be carrying on about our phlogiston footprint and the dangers of using genetically-modified leeches (GMLs) to treat stage IV phlegmatic humour imbalances.

  3. Reblogged this on Joseph Nebus's Sense Of Humor and commented:
    And for this morning I’d like to offer a pointer/reblogging of “Quarks of Nature”, on a Labor Of Like’s WordPress blog. Labor of Like writes a good number of pieces using a comic mode that I’ve somehow avoided in these parts, that of the mock news article. Labor of Like also works heavily in the science-news stream, which is a tough kind of humor to write: there’s a terrific drive to write informationally if you start talking about subsurface oceans of gas-giant moons or superlatively weird constructions of quarks, if nothing else to make sure the average reader has a hope of knowing what’s being talked about.
    This bit, about the discovery of a bizarre kind of quark construct dubbed Z(4430), gives I think a fairly good sense of what the blog’s humor style is like and so, if you like science-news-based-humor (and done in the style of stuffing each sentence full of jokes, a style that I can find exhausting to write, but which if it works evokes the Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker films with jokes piled on top of jokes) then this could be something fresh that you’ll enjoy.

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