BY BEN GILLILAND
Neutralino,chargino, gravitino, slepton and squark. No, this is isn't a roll
call of alien bit-players in the upcoming Star Trek film .They are Just a
few types of an exotic brand of particle predicted by
called sparticles, that might be created when the world's most powerful particle
accelerator is fired up later this year.
It seems that when the Large Hadron Collider, under construction in Geneva, starts smashing beams of photons together at near-light speed, physicists are expecting all sorts of bizarre quantum beasties to be created. Sparticles are one of most peculiar.
Supersymmetry predicts that, for every conventional particle that is created, there also should be a super-charged version - collectively dubbed sparticles (a contraction of the words 'supersymmetric' and 'particle') - for example, for every electron there should be a selectron and for every quark, a squark. Got that?
It is thought that the reason sparticles have yet to be directly detected is that, like all the particles that exist throughout the universe, they were created in the Big Bang, but, because these particle super-partners were created with a lot of mass, they were massively unstable and so were obliterated a fraction of a second later. Because the LHC is able to recreate the conditions that existed a fraction of a second after the Big Bang, physicists hope that some sparticles will be created. If they are, it will go some way to confirming that supersymmetry exists and that, in turn, will help us answer some fundamental questions about the structure of the universe. They won't be able to observe sparticles directly - because they decay too quickly - but scientists hope they will be able to infer their existence form the effect they have on surrounding particles.