AddThis ShareUntitled DocumentContact: Philip Montgomery Phone: (713) 831-4792 Rice Physicists Help Discover Existence of Top QuarkRice physicists played an important role in the discovery of the top quark, a long-sought building block of the universe. Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory officials announced today the top quark was discovered through a collaboration of physicists from a number of research institutions and universities including Rice. Discovering the top quarks confirms physicists’ theories of the basic underlying laws of nature, said Hannu Miettinen, a Rice professor of physics and leader of the Rice research team. Although top quarks may not seem relevant to most people, they are directly tied to our own existence because these particles were formed in the first moments of the universe at the same time the matter forming our world was created. Physicists had strong theoretical reasons to believe that the top quark existed, but it had not been seen. For almost two decades, researchers sought evidence of the elusive particle. It took the world’s most powerful particle accelerator and three years of data collection with two giant detectors to end the 18-year-old search. Miettinen and Geary Eppley, a graduate student, along with two mathematicians from Rice, developed a new mathematical technique about two years ago just to attack the problem of finding the top quark. The method complements and improves on existing methods. Miettinen and Eppley have worked with the top quark analysis group at Fermilab for more than a year to help make this discovery. For nearly two decades, physicists passionately searched for the top quark to confirm the underlying theory of modern physics. According to the big bang theory, when the universe was created six types of quarks came into existence. Of those six, two are found in ordinary matter and make up the protons and neutrons of atoms. The remaining four are less stable and can only be detected through the use of huge particle accelerators. The Rice physicists are part of the D0 (DZero) research group at Fermilab in Batavia, Ill. Fermilab is a high-energy physics laboratory, and the site of a four-mile-circumference particle accelerator. Rice physicists participating in the D0 experiment are David Adams, Iain Bertram, Geary Eppley, Hannu Miettinen, Paul Padley and Pablo Yepes.