CERN Physicists Find a Particle With a Double Dose of Charm

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By Kenneth Chang

Physicists have discovered a particle that is doubly charming.

Researchers reported on Thursday that in debris flying out from the collisions of protons at the CERN particle physics laboratory outside Geneva, they had spotted a particle that has long been predicted but not detected until now.

The new particle, awkwardly known as Xi-cc++ (pronounced ka-sigh-see-see-plus-plus), could provide new insight into how tiny, whimsically named particles known as quarks, the building blocks of protons and neutrons, interact with each other.

Protons and neutrons, which account for the bulk of ordinary matter, are made of two types of quarks: up and down. A proton consists of two up quarks and one down quark, while a neutron contains one up quark and two down quarks. These triplets of quarks are known as baryons.

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