Fusing heavy quarks can produce 10 times more energy than nuclear fusion

Submitted by Freedomman on Wed, 11/08/2017 - 17:57

TEL AVIV, Israel (PNN) - November 6, 2017 - Melting elementary particles such as quarks can produce amounts of energy so massive it is equivalent to 10 times that of nuclear fusion, researchers have reported.

Quarks are the most basic building blocks of matter. The protons and neutrons that make up matter are composed of quarks. Unlike protons and electrons, which have charges of +1 and -1, however, quarks have fractional electric charge. Quarks that are joined together form composite particles called hadrons. Quarks come in six flavors, namely: up, down, top, bottom, strange, and charm.

In a new study, researchers showed that two bottom quarks could theoretically fuse together in a powerful flash that can result in massive amount of energy that can spill out into the universe.

The fusion of two bottom quarks will produce 138 megaelectronvolts (MeV), which is eight times more powerful than individual nuclear fusion events inside a hydrogen bomb.

However, researchers said that this kind of quark fusion could not be used to make a powerful quark bomb.

"We suggest some experimental setups in which the highly exothermic nature of the fusion of two heavy-quark baryons might manifest itself. At present, however, the very short lifetimes of the heavy bottom and charm quarks preclude any practical applications of such reactions," the researchers wrote in their study, which was published in the journal Nature on Nov. 2.

Hydrogen bomb explosions occur because of individual fusion reactions that need a large mass of particles, something that would not be possible when this involves heavy quarks since they only exist for a trillionth of a second before decaying into their lighter and less energetic versions known as up quarks.

Although it is possible to produce single fusion reactions of bottom quarks inside particle accelerators, scientists would not be able to assemble a large enough mass of quarks to cause any damage out in the world. The researchers said that this means there's nothing to worry about from threats of bottom quark bombs.

"A nuclear fusion that occurs in a reactor or hydrogen bomb is a chain reaction in a mass of particles, creating a huge amount of energy," said Marek Karliner from Tel Aviv University. "This is not possible by melting heavy quarks, simply because the raw material cannot be accumulated in the melting process."