This prospect has the field of particle physics both baffled and thrilled. Preliminary results from two experiments suggest that the fundamental way physicists think the universecould be wrong. Tiny particles called muons aren’t quite doing what is expected in two long-running experiments in the and Europe. If significant problems with the rulebook physicists use to describe and understand how the universe works at the subatomic level. “We think we might be swimming in a sea of background particles all the time that just haven’t been directly discovered,” Fermilab experiment co-chief scientist . “There might be monsters we haven’t yet imagined emerging from the vacuum interacting with our muons, and this gives us a window into seeing them.”
The rulebook called the Standard Model, was developed about 50 years ago. Experiments performed over decades repeatedly affirmed that its descriptions of the particles and the forces that make up and govern the universe were pretty much on the mark until now. “New particles, new physics might be just beyond our research,” said Wayne says they should be. from the European Center for Nuclear Research’s Large Hadron Collider that found a surprising proportion of particles in the aftermath of high-speed collisions.particle physicist Alexey Petrov. “It’s tantalizing.” The United States Energy Department’s Fermilab announced results Wednesday of 8.2 billion races along a track outside Chicago that, while ho-hum to most people, have physicists astir: The muons’ magnetic fields don’t seem to be what the Standard Model
If confirmed, the U.S. results would be the most significant finding in the bizarresince the discovery of the Higgs boson, often called the “God particle,” said Aida El-Khadra of the University of Illinois, who works on theoretical physics for the Fermilab experiment. The point of the experiments, explains Johns Hopkins , is to pull apart particles and find out if there’s “something funny going on” with the particles and the seemingly space between them.
“The secrets don’t just live in matter.in something that seems to fill all space and time. These are quantum fields,” Kaplan said. “We’re putting energy into the vacuum and seeing what comes out.” Both sets of results involve the strange, fleeting particle called the muon. The muon is the heavier cousin to the electron that orbits an atom’s center. But the muon is not part of the atom. It is unstable and typically exists for only two microseconds. After it was discovered in cosmic rays in 1936, it so confounded scientists that a famous physicist asked, “Who ordered that?”
“Since the beginning, it was making physicists scratch their heads,” said Graziano Venanzoni, an experimental physicist at an Italian national lab, one of the top scientists on the U.S. Fermilab experiment called Muon g-2. The investigation sends muons around a magnetized track that keeps the particles alive long enough for researchers to closely examine them. Preliminary results suggest that the magnetic “spin” of the muons is 0.1% off what the Standard Model predicts. That may not sound like much, but to particle physicists, it is enormous — more than enough to upend current understanding.
Researchers need another year or two to finish analyzing the results of all the laps around the 50-foot (14-meter) track. If the results don’t change, it will be a significant discovery, Venanzoni said. At the world’s largest atom smasher at CERN, physicists have been crashing protons against each other there to see what happens after. One of the particle colliders’ several separate experiments measures what happens when particles called beauty or bottom quarks collide. The Standard Model predicts that these beauty quark crashes should of electrons and muons. It’s like flipping a coin 1,000 times and getting about similar numbers of heads and tails, said Large Hadron Collider beauty experiment chief Chris Parkes.
But that’s not what happened. Researchers pored over the data from several years and a few thousand crashes and found a 15% difference, with significantly more electrons than muons, said experiment. Neither because there is still a tiny chance the results are statistical quirks. Running the experiments more planned in both cases — could, in a year or two, reach the incredibly stringent statistical requirements for physics to hail it as a discovery, researchers said. If the results hold, they will upend “every other calculation made” in particle physics, Kaplan said.
“This is not a fudge factor. This is something wrong,” Kaplan said. That something could be explained by a new particle or force. Or these Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.may be mistakes. In 2011, an abnormal finding that a neutrino particle seemed to be traveling faster than light threatened the Model. Still, it resulted from a loose electrical . “We checked all our cable connections, and we’ve done what we can to check our data,” Stone said. “We’re kind of confident, but you never know.” AP Writer Jamey Keaten in Geneva contributed to this . Follow Seth Borenstein on Twitter at @borenbears. The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical