‘Anyons’ Could Blur the Boson-Fermion Gap

Any student of particle physics can tell you that all subatomic particles in Nature fall into two distinct classes: fermions (electrons, neutrons, protons, etc.) and bosons (photons and other force-carrying “messenger” particles). Back in 1982, however, physicist Frank Wilczek and several of his colleagues proposed that — theoretically, at least — there could be particles that exist between those two discrete classes.

Wilczek dubbed them “anyons” because any anyon can be anything between a boson and a fermion. “Wilczek is a funny guy,” Tassilo Keilmann told Symmetry Breaking. Keilmann is a physicist at Munich’s Ludwig Maximilian University, and he’s designed an experiment he thinks will bring anyons into the realm of the observable world, using cold atoms and lasers — and a smidgen of ingenuity.

The whole notion of anyons is bizarre, if you think about it. I mean, quantum field theory — the marriage of quantum mechanics with special relativity — dictates that there are only two discrete possibilities for classes of particles: bosons and fermions. The existence of anyons should be ruled out by the quantum mechanical playbook. So what gives?

Read the whole interesting story here ‘Anyons’ Could Blur the Boson-Fermion Gap

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