2008 Nobel Prize In Physics: 3 Early Contributors To Big Bang Theory

Today, in Stockholm, the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to three Japanese physicists - Yoichiro Nambu, Makoto Kobayashi, and Toshihide Maskawa. In different studies, 14 years apart, these men contributed to the understanding of broken symmetries at the sub-atomic, or quark, level of matter and anti-matter. The work of these men has led to an understanding of why everything in nature does not react symmetrically.

An early researcher in the field of particle physics, Yoichiro Nambu, described a spontaneous broken symmetry in elementary particle physics in 1960. His work focused on superconductivity and the relationship of vacuums to asymmetry at the particle level. Nambu's theories contribute to the Standard Model of elementary particle physics, the theory that explains all known matter in the Universe.

(The only thing not explained by the Standard Model is what scientists have not observed, but infer by gravity's behavior on physical matter. These unknowns are called dark matter.)

In 1974, two other Japanese physicists Makoto Kobayashi and Toshihide Maskawa added a new theory to the Standard Model, one that acknowledged three quarks, not just one quark and its polar opposite. Thus, the theory of broken symmetry was broadened to include the concept that say, two "matter" quarks would overcome one "antimatter" quark.

The broadening of the Standard Model was hypothetical at the time, but since has been observed experimentally by physicists. It is this theory of broken symmetry that sheds an important light on the origin of the cosmos 14 billion years ago, as if equal amounts of matter and antimatter existed, they would have cancelled each other out in the Big Bang. The theory of broken symmetry now holds that there was a deviation in one of 10 billion particles of matter... one extra quark of matter in 10 billion matters and antimatters that created the universe!

sources: Nobel Prize Press Release, Nobel Prize Physics Information, Snap Library, JLab, Wikipedia

Related Read: 2008 Nobel Prize In Medicine: Discovery of HPV Cancer and HIV

Oct 9, 2008
by Anonymous

A better subject for physics Nobel

"which shall be annually distributed in the form of prizes to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind."
from the Will of Alfred Nobel.

Is understanding how the fundamental symmetries of nature are broken will benefit most of mankind? I don't think 99.9% of mankind will benefit in the foreseeable future. But other branch of Physics effecting all mankind in this generation and generations for the next millennium GEOPHYSICS. The discoveries and improvements in the field of CLIMATE CHANGE can (with political will) benefit all mankind.

For Nobel to Charles Keeling we are to late so maybe Jim Hansen maybe someone else from the field. But the cosmic microwave background radiation is much less important then the radiation balance of Earth.