Researchers used Hyperball's 14 sensitive detectors to show that a strange quark dramatically shrinks the size of a nucleus. Image Credit: H. Tamura/Tohoku Univ.
Objects in nucleus may be smaller than they appear. At least, that's what current research suggests. Physicists measured the decay of a lithium isotope that had at its core a lambda particle--a neutron with one of its two down quarks replaced by a strange quark--and found that the nucleus had shrunk. The lambda particle travels to the center of the nucleus and acts to bind it more tightly together. This experiment is one of the first to give physicists a look at interactions of such strange nucleons inside the nucleus.