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Odderon effect: A step closer to solving the biggest problem in particle physics

By Indraneel Ghosh

Physicists have uncovered preliminary evidence that could solve a 50-year-old particle physics problem. The scientists at the CERN in Geneva, Switzerland have made observations that imply the existence of an elusive physical effect called "Odderon". The physicists at CERN carry out their experiments in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). Their objective is to study interactions of different kinds of sub-atomic particles. This helps to predict the existence of effects and new particles at this scale.

The results of their experiments do not explicitly predict the existence of the effect. But the results are, nonetheless, encouraging. The preliminary results of the experiments conducted by the LHC seem to point at the existence of this phenomena.

The experiment

Simply put, they accelerate sub-atomic particles and cause them to collide with each other. They draw conclusions from what occurred during these collisions. In the process, they might discover quasi-particles and learn more about their behaviour. These elusive particles and their properties hold the key to various non-trivial problems in physics. The recently conducted TOTEM experiments at CERN have thrown up observations that could only be explained if the "Odderon" phenomena is a reality.

The Regge Theory

Back in the 1960s, theoretical physicists formulated what is today known as Regge theory to explain the interactions of protons when they would not rip apart even after being subject to high-speed collisions. The Regge theory presented a model that could explain these interactions. The theory talks about two effects termed the "Pomeron effect" and the "Odderon effect". The Pomeron effect explains why protons would have a better chance to interact which each other in a glancing manner at higher energies. The Odderon effect aims to provide an explanation for the mysterious observations made about interactions which occur between a proton and anti-proton. It predicts how these interactions would affect the particle directions. The Regge theory, along with the more complex theory of Quantum Chromodynamics (QCD), explains these collisions of protons. Quantum Chromodynamics studies the interactions of quarks. Quarks make up all sub-atomic particles (like protons). These quarks are connected to each other by another class of particles called gluons. The gluon functions like a glue. The QCD describes the Pomeron effect as an interaction in which protons exchange an even number of gluons. In contrast, Odderon is an interaction which leads to an exchange of an odd number of gluons.

A glimmer of hope

Though QCD predicts the existence of both these effects, scientists have only found experimental evidence for the Pomeron effect. For years, scientists have searched, in vain, for experimental evidence which would help establish the Odderon effect. But, these new studies seem to point that we may finally have an opening. It offers a glimmer of hope to solve a small part of one of the biggest problems in particle physics. The experimental proof for this experiment would also confirm several other solutions that hinge on this theory.

The experiment

Simply put, they accelerate sub-atomic particles and cause them to collide with each other. They draw conclusions from what occurred during these collisions. In the process, they might discover quasi-particles and learn more about their behaviour. These elusive particles and their properties hold the key to various non-trivial problems in physics. The recently conducted TOTEM experiments at CERN have thrown up observations that could only be explained if the "Odderon" phenomena is a reality.

The Regge Theory

Back in the 1960s, theoretical physicists formulated what is today known as Regge theory to explain the interactions of protons when they would not rip apart even after being subject to high-speed collisions. The Regge theory presented a model that could explain these interactions. The theory talks about two effects termed the "Pomeron effect" and the "Odderon effect".

The Pomeron effect explains why protons would have a better chance to interact which each other in a glancing manner at higher energies. The Odderon effect aims to provide an explanation for the mysterious observations made about interactions which occur between a proton and anti-proton. It predicts how these interactions would affect the particle directions.

The Regge theory, along with the more complex theory of Quantum Chromodynamics (QCD), explains these collisions of protons. Quantum Chromodynamics studies the interactions of quarks. Quarks make up all sub-atomic particles (like protons). These quarks are connected to each other by another class of particles called gluons. The gluon functions like a glue. The QCD describes the Pomeron effect as an interaction in which protons exchange an even number of gluons. In contrast, Odderon is an interaction which leads to an exchange of an odd number of gluons.

A glimmer of hope

Though QCD predicts the existence of both these effects, scientists have only found experimental evidence for the Pomeron effect. For years, scientists have searched, in vain, for experimental evidence which would help establish the Odderon effect. But, these new studies seem to point that we may finally have an opening. It offers a glimmer of hope to solve a small part of one of the biggest problems in particle physics. The experimental proof for this experiment would also confirm several other solutions that hinge on this theory.

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