Discovery could herald new particle


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Scientists analyzing Large Hadron Collider data find anomaly

What could be causing it? One suggestion: a new particle

CNN —  

First gravitational waves opened a new window on the universe. Now data from the Large Hadron Collider, or LHC, in Switzerland could change the standard model of physics.

Physicists from the Institute of Nuclear Physics of the Polish Academy of Sciences analyzed LHC information from 2011 and 2012 and noticed an anomaly that wasn’t predicted by the standard model, the institute said in a press release. The standard model explains the way particles and forces interact in the universe.

For example, the standard model says there are two basic types of particles, quarks and leptons, which form matter. There are also four elemental forces: the strong force, the weak force, electromagnetism and gravity.

The quarks and leptons form other particles. The forces are each associated with their own particles, one of which, the graviton, remains hypothetical.

But, as institute scientist Mariusz Witek pointed out in a press release, the standard model doesn’t account for everything. There’s always room for revision.

“How did the dominance of matter over antimatter in the universe come about? What is dark matter? Those questions remain unanswered,” he said.

In this case, Witek and his colleagues determined that the angle of decay of the B meson – one of the particles of the standard model – wasn’t predicted by it. That may indicate a new particle entirely, much like LHC data led to the discovery of the Higgs boson, the so-called “God particle,” which provides many of the basic particles with mass.

“Where we once only had a few leaked scenes from a much-anticipated blockbuster, the LHC has finally treated fans to the first real trailer,” said Witek.

However, don’t hand out the Nobel Prizes yet. The new particle has yet to meet the 5 sigma standard required as proof in science, so more work remains to be done.