What’s with the Wang Particle?

Not long ago a colleague ran into my office all of a flutter and asked me about this new discovery called the “Wang particle” that had been in the media. I’m the one around here who’s supposed to know about particle astrophysics stuff, so I was quite embarrassed that I’d never heard of the Wang particle, although I’ll be delighted if it becomes famous as the name has a great deal of comedy potential.

Anyway, I vowed to find out a little bit about it and finally got around this lunchtime to doing so. It turns out that the story was sparked by press release from the British Science Association which, out of the goodness of my heart, I reproduce below (link added by me).

 A new particle, similar to the Higgs Boson, could provide a clue to one of the greatest mysteries of the Universe.

Dr Charles Wang from the University of Aberdeen believes that a new scalar particle is behind the intense supernova explosions that occur when a star implodes. He presented his work to the British Science Association on Tuesday.

Supernova explosions are the most powerful forces in the universe, second only to the Big Bang.

Once frequent, the energy produced in these explosions is responsible for combining particles to produce all the recognisable elements on earth, providing all the known building blocks of life on earth.

There are still many gaps in our understanding of physics and one of the major blanks is how the implosion of a star subsequently produces an intense explosion.

It is known that as elements are created at the centre of a star, a huge amount of energy is released.  However, it is believed that the conversion of known elements would never produce enough energy to result in an explosion.

Dr Wang’s theory states that “a scalar particle – one of the most elementary types of particles in the universe and similar to the Higgs Boson – is at work within these stars and responsible for the additional energy which causes the explosion to take place.”

The scalar particle would effectively enable the high transfer of energy during a supernova, allowing shockwaves from the implosion of a star to become re-energised and cause an explosion.

A new collaboration between Dr Wang and CERN could provide the equipment to make this theory a reality and demonstrate the existence of the ‘Wang particle’ – or as Dr Wang himself refers to it the ‘scalar gravitational particle’. It is hoped that using the ISOLDE facility at CERN it may be possible assimilate a nuclear reaction that would determine the process of a starburst.

If demonstrated, the existence of the ‘Wang particle’, like the Higgs Boson, would hold major implications for physics, shedding new light on the theory of everything and affecting our understanding of how different physical phenomena interact.

There’s no link to an academic paper with it, which is a bit disappointing, but an older piece in the CERN Courier does provide a reference to the paper, which is

C H-T Wang et al. 2011 Parametric instability induced scalar gravitational waves from a model pulsating neutron star, Phys. Letts. B 705 148

If you’re prepared to shake hands with the Devil that is Elsevier you can find the paper here.

I have to confess that this is a new one on me. I haven’t gone through the paper in detail yet but, at a quick skim, it seems to be based on a variation of the  Brans-Dicke scalar-tensor theory of gravity. It’s probably an interesting paper, and I look forward to reading it in detail on a long flight I’m about to take, but I am a bit mystified as to why it created such a stir in the media. Looks more a result of hype than real significance to me. It certainly isn’t the “new Higgs boson” anyway. Nor is it likely to be relevant in explaining Climate Change. Or am I missing something? Perhaps hot air generated by press releases is responsible for global warming?

Anyone out there an expert on Wang’s work? Care to comment?

14 Responses to “What’s with the Wang Particle?”

  1. Well yes. Perhaps it could be renamed the ‘Brans-Dicke-Wang’ or ‘Jordan-Brans-Dicke-Wang’ if they find it.

  2. Bob Anderson (@doubledodge) Says:

    Also an interesting little snippet in the Gurniad Shortcuts blog included the comment

    So is the hunt for the Wang now on? Robert Bingham at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire works on the theory with Wang. “I’ve never thought of calling it that. He hasn’t either. We’d tend to call it the scalar gravitational particle.”

    Here is the link via @FQXi http://t.co/mXYorcRj

    As you say there is little information out there but you could ask Bob Bingham….

  3. Monica Grady Says:

    I was put in a similarly embarassing position, when in front of a group of about 100 people, I was aked publicly about the Wang particle. What was unusual was the forum in which the question was asked. It was at Mass, Sunday before last. Our priest is a science enthusiast, and he mentioned as part of his sermon that a new particle had been found. He said ‘Monica, this is your field. Can you explain to us what the Wang particle is?’ I had to admit it wasn’t my field, and that I’d never heard of it. Back home, quick research to find that it was from the BA, same conclusion as drawn by Peter. Press interest because of the science festival.

  4. The British Science Association press release says this (about supernovae):

    There are still many gaps in our understanding of physics and one of the major blanks is how the implosion of a star subsequently produces an intense explosion.

    Is this really a “blank”? I thought that was pretty well understood?

    • I’m not an expert on supernovae, but I heard a talk recently from Fritz Roepke, who is, that suggested it really isn’t. The slides of his talk are here. At the time I wrote a summary of what I had understood from his talk here.

      Basically, I believe Type Ia supernovae are “controversial” and simulations of Type II supernovae don’t explode at all.

  5. I published a theory of gravitation showing both Newton and Einstein may not be correct in our non isotropic gravitoethertons soup universe. The paper first appeared as Misjudgements by Newton in ASTRONOMY.NET in year 2002. Then I sent my discussions further in Ether=gravity=dark energy theory of gravitoethertons,–Balloon inside balloon theory of matter and antimatter universe on opposite entropy path producing dark energy or ether at common boundary by annihilation and injected into our universe for accelerating expansion as well as all laws and constants etc etc. The papers were sent to many science forums and Nature as well as letters to editor USA TODAY etc. If you search my name durgadas datta in google, then you will see all my correspondences there with dates from year 2003 on wards. You may kindly look into the papers though it may not be mathematically very pleasant for you- but the essence of a new particle as described by Dr.Wang is there. I HAVE ALSO SENT THESE THEORIES TO BRITISH SCIENCE ASSOCIATION LONG BACK .

  6. “We cannot control the explosion of stars, but if we can understand the process by which it happens we could potentially better predict when and where these explosions will take place and as a result make predictions on how the Earth’s climate could change in the decades to come.”

    Really? If this is a direct quote, then he can be accused of over-hyping his research. If not, it’s sloppy journalism.

    • Anton Garrett Says:

      At a guess, it’s putting the hypothesis that cosmic rays originate in supernovae together with the hypothesis that cosmic rays are implicated in cloud formation, which is currently a hot topic in climate research.

      • Right, I follow that bit. However, there is about one supernova per galaxy per century, so even if our understanding of them could be much improved, I don’t see how one can spin that to “make predictions on how the Earth’s climate could change in the decades to come”, unless he means very many decades.

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