Physicists discover a new duality in theoretical particle physics

In theoretical particle physics, a new and interesting duality has been discovered. The duality exists between two types of scattering processes likely to occur in the collisions of protons carried out in the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland and France.

Matthias Wilhelm obtained his doctorate. from Humboldt University in Berlin before joining the Niels Bohr Institute in 2015. Since 2019, he has led a junior research group Villum Young Investigator, aiming to unravel the mathematical structures that govern our universe at the smallest scales. Image credit: Niels Bohr Institute.

The fact that this connection can be made suggests that something in the intricacies of the Standard Model of particle physics is not fully understood. The Standard Model is a subatomic scale model of the world that illustrates all particles and their interactions. So when storylines occur, there is cause for concern. The study was published in the journal Physical examination letters.

Duality in physics

The concept of duality appears in different areas of physics. Particle-wave duality in quantum mechanics is probably the best-known duality. Light behaves like a wave in the famous double slit experiment, while light behaves like a particle in the Nobel Prize-winning work of Albert Einstein.

The amazing fact is that light is simultaneously “both and neither”. There are only two ways to look at light, and each has its own mathematical description. Both describe the same thing, but with completely different intuitive ideas.

What we have now found is a similar duality. We calculated the prediction for a diffusion process and for another diffusion process. Our current calculations are less experimentally tangible than the famous double slit experiment, but there is a clear mathematical map between the two, and it shows that they both contain the same information. They are somehow related.

Matthias Wilhelm, Assistant Professor, Niels Bohr International Academy

Theory and experiments go hand in hand

The researchers collided with many protons at the Large Hadron Collider, and these protons contain many smaller particles, such as gluons and quarks, which are subatomic particles.

Two separate proton gluons can interact in a collision, resulting in the creation of new particles like the Higgs particle and complex patterns in detectors.

They then mapped out how all of these patterns appear. The theoretical work done in conjunction with the experiments aimed to describe exactly what is happening in mathematical terms to generate an overall formulation and make predictions that can be assimilated to the results of the experiment.

We have calculated the diffusion process for two gluons interacting to produce four gluons, and the diffusion process for two gluons interacting to produce one gluon and one Higgs particle, both in a slightly simplified version of the Standard Model.

Matthias Wilhelm, Assistant Professor, Niels Bohr International Academy

William adds:To our surprise, we found that the results of these two calculations are related. A classic case of duality. Either way, the answer to the probability of one diffusion process occurring contains the answer to the probability of another diffusion process occurring.

The strange thing about this duality is that we don’t know why this relationship between the two different diffusion processes exists. We mix two very different physical properties of the two predictions, and we see the relationship, but it’s still a bit of a mystery where the connection lies.

Matthias Wilhelm, Assistant Professor, Niels Bohr International Academy

The principle of duality and its application

The two should not be linked, according to current understanding, but the only appropriate response to discovering this remarkable duality is to explore further.

Surprises always indicate that there is something beyond understanding. No sensational new particles have been discovered since the discovery of the Higgs particle in 2012. The researchers intend to detect new physics by making very precise predictions of what should happen, and comparing them later with very precise measurements of what nature shows, and analyze any deviations.

Both experimentally and theoretically, a high level of precision is required. However, greater precision requires more difficult calculations.

William says:So where that might lead is to see if this duality can be used to derive some sort of ‘mile’ from it, because one calculation is simpler than the other, but it still gives the answer to the calculation the more complicated..”

So if we can get away with using simple math, we can use duality to answer the question that would otherwise require more complicated calculations. But then we really have to understand duality. It is important to note, however, that we are not there yet. But generally, questions that arise from unexpected behavior of things are much more interesting than an orderly, expected outcome.concludes Wilhelm.

Journal reference:

Dixon, L.J. et al. (2022) Folding amplitudes into form factors: an antipodal duality. Physical examination letters.


Comments are closed.