WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
Scientists have found new evidence of a new, theoretical power source that is eight times more powerful than nuclear fusion, and if the theory is proved it will prove to be a revolutionary power source.
This week a team of researchers from Tel Aviv University in Israel and the University of Chicago found exciting evidence suggesting that fusing Quarks together can release much more energy than anyone first thought, and if their findings are borne out then they might have just found, albeit a still theoretical one, a revolutionary new energy source that would produce eight times more power than nuclear fusion.
In their paper which was published in the journal Nature, the two lead researchers Marek Karliner and Jonathan Rosner describe their theory about the amount of energy produced when various types of quarks are fused together.
To learn more about subatomic particles, researchers at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) regularly accelerate atoms to extreme speeds and smash them together, causing them and their constituent parts to blow apart from one another, and it’s this activity that lets scientists study the fundamentals of things like the afore mentioned quarks. In addition to this though, previous experiments at the LHC have also shown that when atoms in the collider smash into each other, sometimes the pieces that come apart collide with other parts, fusing them into particles called “Baryons,” and other experiments have shown that energy is involved when quarks fuse together.
By studying the properties of one such fusing, something called a “Doubly-charmed baryon,” the researchers found that it took 130 MeV to force the quarks into this particular configuration, but they also found that fusing the quarks together wound up releasing 12 MeV more than that.
Intrigued by their findings, they quickly focused on “Bottom quarks,” yes, I know ha ha, which are much heavier, and their calculations showed that it took 230 MeV to fuse them together but that doing so released approximately 138 MeV of energy, which is eight times more than the amount released during hydrogen fusion.
Since hydrogen fusion lies at the heart of hydrogen bombs, at first the researchers were quite naturally alarmed at their findings, so much so that they considered not publishing their results. But subsequent calculations showed that it would be impossible to cause a chain reaction with quarks because they exist for too short a period of time, approximately one picosecond which isn’t long enough to set off another baryon chain reaction. They also decay into much smaller, less dangerous lighter quarks.
The researchers were keen to point out that their work is still purely theoretical, and that they haven’t tried to fuse bottom quarks, though they note it should be technically feasible at the LHC.