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Wikenigma - an Encyclopedia of Unknowns Wikenigma - an Encyclopedia of the Unknown

The Proton Spin Crisis

'Spin' is an intrinsic property of many subatomic particles - it's been likened in some ways to the 'angular momentum' of a spinning ball, - but more accurately is a mathematical 'vector' or 'property'.

After the discovery that protons are composed of three quarksplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigQuarks

Following theoretical calculations, particle accelerator experiments in the 1970s confirmed that quarks are responsible for the internal structure of protons and neutrons. ( 3 quarks each, in different configurations, see :Electron / Quark charge balance).

Again, as calculations predicted, six 'flavours' of quark have now been experimentally identified (ref.
and their associated 'gluons' (holding them together via the Strong Force) it was assumed that the proton's spin property must be derived from the 'spin' of its constituent quarks.

A 1987 experiment at CERN (which has subsequently been replicated by other experiments) showed that this is not the case. It's now thought that the quarks only contribute between 4% and 24%.

This surprising and puzzling result was termed the "proton spin crisis". The problem is considered one of the important unsolved problems in physics.

Source : Wikipedia

Note that the as-yet-unexplained anomaly also applies to the Neutron, which is also built from three quarks.

For a technical description, see The Spin Structure of the Nucleon Reports on Progress in Physics Volume 82, Number 7,at arXiv.org


Also see :Proton radius puzzleplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigProton radius puzzle

Until 2010, measurements (backed up by theory) had put the radius of the proton at about 0.87 femtometres, but in that year, experiments at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics in Germany found a 4% discrepancy.

And in 2016, new experiments - measuring the size of the deuteron (one neutron plus one proton) found an 0.8% discrepancy.
, Proton Mass Calculationsplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigProton Mass Calculations

The mass of a proton has only been calculated to an accuracy of around 4% - (roughly 938 MeV/c2 or 1.672 ร— 10-27 kg). The constituent particles - quarks and gluons - which make up the proton, have individual masses that add up to only around 1% or so of its measured mass (which can be determined accurately with specialised devices called
and Quantum 'Cheshire Cat' phenomenaplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigQuantum 'Cheshire Cat' phenomena

The Quantum Cheshire Cat (QCC) phenomenon was first proposed in a 2013 paper for the New Journal of Physics (ref.) The authors proposed that at quantum level, a particle's properties (e.g. polarization, momentum, spin etc etc )

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