PerspectivePhysics

Fishing Antihypernuclei Out of a Quark-Gluon Soup

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Science  02 Apr 2010:
Vol. 328, Issue 5974, pp. 55-56
DOI: 10.1126/science.1187769

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Summary

Quantum field theory is the general framework for combining special relativity and quantum mechanics; it is the formalism that describes the standard model of particle physics. The mathematical structure of quantum field theory requires that all types of particles have antiparticles of the same mass but the opposite electric charge. In fact, the implications are broader: Any physical system describable in quantum field theory—no matter how complex or exotic—has an antimatter analog with an identical mass. Thus, a version of quantum field theory rich enough to allow for the existence of elephants must equally allow for antielephants. On page 58 of this issue, The STAR Collaboration (1, 2) discusses the formation of a complex particle, an antihypertriton, an exotic relative of the nucleus of tritium that contains a particular variety of elementary particle known as the strange quark.