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Proton radius puzzle

Until 2010, measurements (backed up by theory) had put the radius of the proton at about 0.87 femtometres, but in that year, experiments at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics in Germany found a 4% discrepancy.

And in 2016, new experiments - measuring the size of the deuteron (one neutron plus one proton) found an 0.8% discrepancy.

Although small in percentage terms, these discrepancies are unexplainable using calculations based on the standard model.

This independent discrepancy points to experimental or theoretical error or even to physics beyond the standard model."

Source : Laser spectroscopy of muonic deuterium Science, 12 Aug 2016: Vol. 353, Issue 6300, pp. 669-673

More info: Puzzling out the proton radius puzzle AIP Conf. Proc. 1701, 040014 (2016).

The discrepancy between the proton charge radius extracted from the muonic hydrogen Lamb shift measurement and the best present value obtained from the elastic scattering experiments, remains unexplained and represents a burning problem of today’s nuclear physics: after more than 50 years of research the radius of a basic constituent of matter is still not understood."

In 2022, a new measurement of the proton radius, using anti-neutrinos, was carried out by the MINERvA team at FermiLab.

They measure the radius to be 0.73 femtometers. Ref. Scientific American, March, 2023


Also see : The Proton Spin Crisisplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigThe Proton Spin Crisis

'Spin' is an intrinsic property of many subatomic particles - it's been likened in some ways to the 'angular momentum' of a spinning ball, - but more accurately is a mathematical 'vector' or 'property'.

After the discovery that protons are composed of three
and Proton Mass Calculationsplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigProton Mass Calculations

The mass of a proton has only been calculated to an accuracy of around 4% - (roughly 938 MeV/c2 or 1.672 × 10-27 kg). The constituent particles - quarks and gluons - which make up the proton, have individual masses that add up to only around 1% or so of its measured mass (which can be determined accurately with specialised devices called


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