Added 1/29/2004, modified 1/03/05

BIG BANG GOO?

 Violation of Baryon Conservation?

 

A recent article in THE NEW YORK TIMES by JAMES GLANZ is entitled, Tests Suggest Scientists Have Found Big Bang Goo. Comments appear in italicized paragraphs.

The article states, "At least three advanced diagnostic tests suggest that an experiment at the Brookhaven National Laboratory has cracked open protons and neutrons like subatomic eggs to create a primordial form of matter that last existed when the universe was roughly one millionth of a second old. The hot, dense substance, called a quark gluon plasma, has managed to generate intense disputes in the 15 years or so in which scientists have pursued it. In 2000, a major European laboratory claimed that it had, for the first time, liberated particles called quarks from where they are normally trapped in protons and neutrons, a big step on the way to creating the plasma. Possibly seeking to avoid the outpouring of criticism that followed, Brookhaven scientists at the meeting here recited a series of striking new measurements from their particle accelerator in Upton on Long Island, but refused to say that they had actually produced the plasma. Creating such a plasma would fulfill some of scientists' biggest dreams, because it would enable them to study the earliest moments of the Big Bang, the colossal explosion that is believed to have been the birth of the entire universe."

Note that the article and the scientific analysis work are premised on the correctness of the Conventional Big Bang Model!

"Each of the 197 protons and neutrons that make up a gold nucleus has three quarks and a handful of other particles called gluons that transmit the strong force that holds the quarks together. By the strange rules of subatomic physics, swarms of other quarks and gluons flit into and out of existence in each nucleus. Physicists would like to study the quarks individually, but the force carried by the gluons is something like a rubber band that never loses its elasticity. So a given quark can never escape the embrace of another quark and roam free."

The statement about swarms of other particles flitting in and out of existence is not germane to the measurements, and is only a mechanical way of thinking about how reaction products may form under certain situations that are hidden by Heisenberg Uncertainty.

"The lone exception theoretically, at least - should occur when a collection of ordinary particles becomes so hot and dense that their innards can spill out and form a kind of quark soup, the quark gluon plasma. That is the state that the universe is thought to have been in a few millionths of a second after the start of the Big Bang, before the zoo of ordinary particles like protons and neutrons and pions and kaons had coalesced from the primordial soup. A speck of that soup is what the Brookhaven Collider seeks to generate, by smashing together gold nuclei at close to the speed of light. Previous measurements have shown that the lump of material at the center of that collision is from 10 to 100 times as dense as normal nuclear matter. Its temperature is more than a trillion degrees."

Again, the interpretation of the experiment is biased by expectations from a prior theoretical model instead of just looking at the data and asking, what does it mean?

"The new data, from particle detectors known by their acronyms Brahms, Star, Phenix and Phobos showed that this searing goo had a remarkable number of properties expected from the plasma. One finding focused on the almond-shape region, possibly filled with plasma, created when two spherical gold nuclei strike each other, but not quite head on. Theory predicts that fast particles trying to escape the region should become hung up in the gooey plasma and sometimes stopped completely. That general effect, called jet quenching, had been seen before. But observations by Star have shown for the first time that particles escaping down the long dimension of the almond are more likely to be stopped than those escaping along the short dimension, where there is less plasma to travel through."

" "This is demonstrating, if you will, that our understanding is correct about the jet quenching," said Timothy Hallman, a Brookhaven physicist on the Star experiment. "But it's not proof positive of the quark gluon plasma." Another finding indicates that two kinds of particles mesons, containing two quarks each, and baryons, containing three speed from the collision point in ways suggesting that they were formed in the hot brew of quarks and gluons. Still another measurement shows the narrow part of the almond-shaped region, the most tightly compressed part, expanding faster than the rest, in just the way expected of a plasma expanding because of its own pressure. "The fact that the particles march in lockstep, with the pressure that's expected from the quark gluon plasma, is sufficient for me," Dr. Miklos Gyulassy said. "That's my definition of the quark gluon plasma." "

It is significant that whole particles are released in this experiment, a process that used to be called spallation. That does not have to mean that these particles were formed from the plasma, because preformed pieces may have simply been split off from the main body, something like shattering a rock into pebbles. But what has apparently not been appreciated is that this Brookhaven experiment possibly demonstrates a violation of baryon conservation in a non-Big-Bang situation! The experiment began with two gold nuclei containing only baryons, and produced kaons and pions which are mesons that contain a quark and an anti-quark each. Some of those quarks may have been taken from baryons, leaving fewer baryons than before. If baryon conservation can be violated in this case when sufficient excitation is applied, then perhaps neutrino-induced fission of baryons is also possible!

This may indeed be a plasma, but it is not a plasma under the postulated conditions of the Big Bang, because the tremendous gravitational attraction that would confine the plasma in all directions is missing! All that is present is an inertial confinement, primarily along the axis of collision, which is much weaker than the gravitational confinement would be. Such a situation seems to correspond to that existing in a recently observed "Quark Star", which has a density many times that of a Neutron Star. Obviously, that is not a Big Bang situation either.