My thanks to FSU Physics Professor and particle theorist Jeff Owens for his explanation of Dayshon’s research. The text here is an edited version of what Prof. Owens sent.
The proton is usually described as consisting of three even smaller particles called quarks. There are six types (or “flavors”) of quarks – up, down, strange, charm, top and bottom. And there is an “anti-quark” of each flavor of quark. At a basic level, the proton consists of three quarks – two up quarks and one down quark.
But quark-antiquark pairs wink into and out of existence constantly in a phenomenon called “quantum fluctuations.” Anti-up and anti-down quarks are expected, but pairs of strange and anti-strange quarks can also occur in the proton. One way of finding out how these strange quark pairs behave in the nucleus is to look at the production of particles called “W-bosons” in high energy physics experiments like those performed at the CERN laboratory in Europe.
Enter Dayshon Mathis, a graduate of Duval County’s Stanton Prep who just completed his 2nd year as an FSU physics major. Dayshon is theoretically mining the proton – working to understand the motion of these strange quark/anti-quark pairs in the proton by looking at W-bosons produced in experiments. The goal is to find an experimental strategy that can be used to solve this mystery of the proton.