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
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