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Symmetry Math Sheds New Light on Fundamental Physics

March 25, 2009

Waterloo, Ontario, Canada - A team of researchers from Perimeter Institute, Cambridge University, and Texas A&M has for the first time estimated, from mathematical symmetry arguments, the size of a fundamental imbalance pervading the subatomic world. This imbalance, called the CP violation, distinguishes matter from antimatter and is essential to understanding why matter predominates over antimatter in the natural world. Applying a new statistical approach, Gary Gibbons and Steffen Gielen of Cambridge, Chris Pope of Texas A&M and Neil Turok of Perimeter Institute showed how random matrices can be used to estimate the size of the CP violation to be expected in nature. To their surprise, their results tallied well with experimentally observed data about quarks. The team also showed how this approach could be applied to judge whether or not there are likely to be more than three subatomic particle families in nature, and to anticipate the properties of exotic particles called neutrinos. The work will help guide future particle accelerator experiments, such as those at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. It also provides clues about the physical mechanism which caused the imbalance between matter and antimatter in the Universe.

See article to appear in Physical Review Letters, March 27, 2009.

(arXiv:0810.4368v2 – see

Media inquiries:
Angela Robinson, Communications Coordinator, Perimeter Institute, 519-569-7600 x5051.

Canada's Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics is an independent, non-profit, scientific research and educational outreach organization where international scientists cluster to push the limits of our understanding of physical laws and develop new ideas about the very essence of space, time, matter and information. The centre provides a multi-disciplinary environment to foster scientific collaboration in research areas of cosmology, particle physics, quantum foundations, quantum gravity, quantum information, superstring theory, and related disciplines. Located in Waterloo, Ontario, PI also provides a wide array of award winning outreach programs for students, teachers and the general public in order to share the joy of research, discovery and innovation. In partnership with the Governments of Ontario and Canada, Perimeter Institute continues to be a successful example of private and public collaboration in science research and education. A full history is available at

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For more information contact:
Angela Robinson
External Relations Assistant
Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics
Phone: 519-569-7600 x5051

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