Have hopes of time travel gone pear shaped? Researchers say discovery of fruit-shaped nuclei could make it impossible

 

  • Researchers confirmed the pear-shaped nuclei of isotope Barium-144
  • The pear shape goes against the accepted symmetry-based model
  • Scientists say it may relate to the symmetry violation seen with antimatter
  • And, they say shape points in direction that relates to time –past to present

By CHEYENNE MACDONALD FOR DAILYMAIL.COM

PUBLISHED: 16:09 EST, 24 June 2016 | UPDATED: 16:09 EST, 24 June 2016

Researchers have confirmed the existence of an unusual form of atomic nuclei, challenging the fundamental theories of physics – and it could send hopes for time travel swirling down the drain.

It’s long been thought that the nucleus of Barium- 144 may be asymmetric, and in a new study, an international team of researchers has finally observed the pear-shaped distortion.

They say the deformation is even more pronounced than previously expected, and points in a specific direction that defines the flow of time as ‘past to present.’

An international team of researchers has confirmed the pear-shaped nucleus of Barium-144. And, they say it points in a specific direction that relates to the flow of time, which runs from past to present. 

An international team of researchers has confirmed the pear-shaped nucleus of Barium-144. And, they say it points in a specific direction that relates to the flow of time, which runs from past to present. 

WHAT IT MEANS FOR TIME TRAVEL

In a new study, researchers confirmed the presence of pear-shaped nuclei in the neutron-rich isotope Barium- 144. 

Researchers explain that the findings indicate that, when it comes to time, there’s no going back.

The pear shape points in a direction relative to that of time, the researchers say, indicating it ‘will always travel from past to present.’ 

The nucleus of the neutron-rich isotope Barium- 144 is the second to show this unusual pear shape, according to BBC.

A few years ago, researchers discovered this feature in the nucleus of Radium-224.

The pear shape goes against the accepted symmetry-based model, which accounts for three shapes of atomic nuclei: spherical, discus, and football.

In the new study published to the journal Physical Review Letters, researchers at Argonne National Laboratory obtained the first direct measurements of Barium- 144.

This isotope typically decays in seconds or less, and has thus been difficult to investigate.

The researchers created a beam of radioactive barium ions, collected from fission fragments of californium nuclei, and accelerated it using the Atlas accelerator.

Then, they studied the radiation from the excited nuclei to better understand the nuclear structure of the isotopes.

Researchers have confirmed the existence of an unusual form of atomic nuclei, challenging the fundamental theories of physics – and it could send hopes for time travel swirling down the drain. The image illustrates the device used to differentiate the pear (top left) from spherical (upper right) or ellipsoidal (lower left) shapes

 

Researchers have confirmed the existence of an unusual form of atomic nuclei, challenging the fundamental theories of physics – and it could send hopes for time travel swirling down the drain. The image illustrates the device used to differentiate the pear (top left) from spherical (upper right) or ellipsoidal (lower left) shapes

Doing this, the team discovered that these nuclei do, in fact, exhibit a pear shape, and it’s more distorted than thought.

The strengths of the ‘octupole transitions’ were more than twice the values of those predicted by the models on several occasions.

Confirming this structure may help to solve the mystery of the universe’s ‘missing’ antimatter, as it violates the theory of mirror symmetry, BBC reports.

WHERE DID ALL THE ANTIMATTER GO?

Antimatter is the mirror of ordinary matter. Normal atoms are made up of positively-charged nuclei orbited by negatively-charged electrons.

However, their antimatter counterparts are the other way round. They have negative nuclei and positively-charged electrons, known as positrons.

When matter and antimatter meet they instantly annihilate each other, releasing a burst of detectable energy.

According to the Big Bang theory, equal amounts of matter and antimatter were created at the start of the Universe.

But while there is an abundance of matter present, scientists have not found the antimatter to match. 

Moving forward, the researchers will attempt to replicate the experiment, using Cern’s Isotope Separator On Line Detector (Isolde), which can produce massive quantities of Barium-144.

Along with implications for the distribution of matter and antimatter in the universe, the researchers explain that the findings indicate that, when it comes to time, there’s no going back.

Nuclei are typically round or football-shaped. But, researchers discovered that Barium-144 nucleus takes the form of a pear

 

Nuclei are typically round or football-shaped. But, researchers discovered that Barium-144 nucleus takes the form of a pear

‘We’ve found these nuclei literally point towards a direction in space,’ Dr Marcus Scheck, of the University of the West of Scotland, who was involved in both studies, told BBC.

‘This relates to a direction in time, proving there’s a well-defined direction in time and we will always travel from past to present.’ 

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