Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Physicists develop model that pushes limits of quantum theory, relativity

Physicists develop model that pushes limits of quantum theory, relativity: The orderly way in which electrons fill up atomic levels provides stability and structure to matter, as well as dictates the chemical properties of elements on the Periodic Table. Underlying this stability is the ability to pinpoint the location of objects (electrons, protons and neutrons) almost exactly in space and time. The new model posits that at the level where quantum gravity is significant, this picture of space-time continuum breaks down, deeply affecting the rotational symmetry of the atoms and triggering electron transitions (movement from one shell to another) that violate the Pauli principle.

"The Pauli principle is not obeyed in the model we built," Balachandran says. "We then used existing experimental evidence to put limits on when these violations in transitions can occur."

According to the model, violations of the Pauli principle would theoretically occur in nature in a time span that is longer than the age of the universe—or less frequently than once in the proverbial "blue moon."

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