Scientists discover new kind of particle: the pentaquark

Updated 14 July 2015

Scientists discover new kind of particle: the pentaquark

GENEVA: Scientists at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland have discovered a new kind of particle called the pentaquark, they announced Tuesday.
Physicists had theorized the existence of the pentaquark since the 1960s, but had never been able to prove it until its detection by the LHCb experiment at the LHC, the world’s most powerful particle smasher.
The discovery of the pentaquark comes after the LHC was used in 2012 to prove the existence of another particle, the Higgs Boson, which confers mass.
LHCb spokesman Guy Wilkinson said the pentaquark represented a way to combine quarks — the sub-atomic particles that make up protons and neutrons — “in a pattern that has never been observed before in over 50 years of experimental searches.”
He added: “Studying its properties may allow us to understand better how ordinary matter, the protons and neutrons from which we’re all made, is constituted.”
The LHC cranked back up again in June after a two-year upgrade, with scientists hailing a “new era” in their quest to unravel more mysteries of the Universe.
The new tests at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) have twice the energy levels they had during the last three-year experiment phase, when the existence of the Higgs Boson was confirmed.
Four laboratories are located along the LHC’s ring-shaped tunnel around a hundred meters underground, where scientists analyze collisions between particles moving at close to the speed of light.
The LHCb, one of the four experiments, is focused on understanding the differences between matter and anti-matter and analyzing certain quarks.
“Our understanding of the structure of matter was revolutionized in 1964 when American physicist, Murray Gell-Mann, proposed that a category of particles known as baryons, which includes protons and neutrons, are comprised of three fractionally charged objects called quarks,” CERN said in a statement.
Gell-Mann, who won the Nobel Physics Prize in 1969, further proposed another category of particles, mesons, formed of “quark-antiquark” pairs.
His model allowed for the existence of other quark combinations — such as pentaquarks, which are composed of four quarks and an antiquark. But no conclusive evidence for pentaquarks had been seen until now.
The LHCb experiment changed the game by allowing scientists to “look for pentaquarks from many perspectives,” CERN said.
The findings have been submitted to the journal Physical Review Letters.
The next stage of the research will focus on studying how the quarks are bound together within the pentaquarks, the nuclear laboratory added.


China’s tech titans fight for cloud control

Updated 04 July 2020

China’s tech titans fight for cloud control

  • Tencent flexes its muscles in race with arch-rival Alibaba as pandemic opens new business frontiers

HONG KONG: For Chinese cloud services companies, the coronavirus outbreak has become a rainmaker, bringing in new business far and wide as firms shift work online, and authorities develop apps and systems to help contain outbreaks and manage social restrictions.

For Tencent Holdings, in particular, it has also become the perfect time to flex new muscles as it seeks to catch up with Alibaba Group Holding, its arch-rival and the dominant player in the country’s cloud market by far.

Tencent began to display a new level of aggressiveness after positioning its cloud business as a major area of growth in September 2018, and that has only amped up amid the pandemic, employees say.

“The competition with Alibaba is so fierce right now, the sales teams are fighting them for every deal,” said a source in Tencent’s cloud division who was not authorized to speak on the matter and declined to be identified.

This year alone, Tencent has hired more than 3,000 employees for its cloud division. And as China went into lockdown and demand for corporate video bandwidth surged in February, it added 100,000 cloud servers in eight days to support a two-month old product, Tencent Conference — a feat the company says is unprecedented in Chinese cloud computing history.

It has expanded use of cloud servers designed in-house, pledged to speed up construction of a digital industry center in Wuhan to handle cloud and smart city projects in central China and joined a central government initiative to support pandemic-hit small businesses with free cloud services.

The social media and gaming behemoth also announced in May it will invest 500 billion yuan ($70 billion) over five years in technology infrastructure including cloud computing — just weeks after Alibaba said it would invest 200 billion yuan in its cloud infrastructure over three years.

Poshu Yeung, vice president of Tencent’s international business group, notes huge interest in shifting further into the cloud from businesses and for online education.

“We actually see more demands, requests coming in,” he said in an interview in April. “It’s a good wakening call for a lot of businesses.”

During the first quarter, China’s cloud infrastructure services market grew an impressive 67 percent from a year earlier to $3.9 billion, data from research firm Canalys shows.

Alibaba commanded 44.5 percent of the market while Tencent, which started its cloud business in 2013, four years after Alibaba, had just 14 percent. Huawei Technologies also had 14 percent.

“Although Tencent came to the space later than Alibaba, I believe the company is willing to endure a relatively long period of investment cycle for this business, hoping to catch up or one day becoming the No. 1 player in this field,” said Alex Liu, tech analyst at China Renaissance.

Tencent’s cloud division accounted for more than 4.5 percent of its annual revenue last year while Alibaba’s cloud computing division accounted for 8 percent of its overall revenue.

Tencent employees have told Reuters the company is working hard to become more adept in business-to-business sales where products are often designed from the ground up for one client, as well as in government relations.

 Those are areas where Alibaba excels while Tencent’s strength lies more with consumer-centric products and design.

“Tencent has great genes in business-to-consumer, but in business-to-business, we either didn’t have product managers or we just hired folks with a business-to-consumer background so it took a bit of time to convert their thinking,” said a second Tencent source in the company’s cloud business.

Tencent declined to comment on staff observations.

One area where Tencent has gained ground in recent years is government contracts — a relatively small part of the market in revenue terms but one that brings prestige and helps attract private-sector clients.

Underscoring its determination to win tenders, Tencent in 2017 offered to complete a Fujian province government information platform project for 0.01 yuan.

From 2016 to 2017, Alibaba scored 28 cloud-related contracts for government entities, state-owned enterprises, and academic institutions, while Tencent landed just seven, government procurement records show.

But in 2018, they secured 28 each before Alibaba took the lead again last year with 49 compared with Tencent’s 46.