Authors propose using the zero-gravity environment of the International Space Station to gather evidence for or against quark particles existing as free radicals in nature. Their proposed method is based on a micro gravity version of 1923 Nobel Prize winner Robert Millikan's oil drop method of determining the fundamental charge on a single electron. Although Millikan's original experiments were carried out in 1909, and showed that all electrical charge exists as whole integer multiples of the fundamental electron unit, Millikan observed and recorded in lab notebooks, the existence of a tiny oil droplet which had a +1/3 partial charge, which he dismissed as an error. Not until the 1960's did quark theory and Particle Accelerators show that protons and neutrons were actually composed of smaller particles called ``quarks'' which indeed bear unique fractional charges. Authors propose observing one millimeter or larger grounded metal spheres suspended in micro gravity between oppositely charged metal plates for telltale motion behavior caused by the fractional charge unique to the quark particle. The ability afforded by micro gravity to use test objects of much greater mass than that of oil droplets equates to being able to perform 100 million Millikan tests in a single run -more by far than the sum total of all the tests ever performed on earth. The significant breakthroughs in terms of deep space propulsion and energy production, hinging on the question of free quark existence, are noted. Preliminary results of basic experimental apparatus construction and testing aboard NASA KC-135 zero-gravity flights are reported, along with recommendations for future experiments. Authors note ideal nature of the experiment in terms of possible student interaction with astronauts and real-time exhibition of testing via the Internet. .
Space Technology and Applications International Forum
- Pub Date:
- January 2000
- Measurements in electric variables;
- Electrical and electronic instruments and components;
- Demonstration experiments and apparatus