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‘Tantalizing’ Results of Two Experiments Defying the Laws of Physics

Preliminary results from two experiments suggest that something is wrong with the fundamental way physicists think the universe works – an opportunity with the field of particle physics both puzzled and excited.

The microparticles called muons rarely do what is expected from two long-term trials in the United States and Europe. The confusing results – if proven to be correct – reveal a key problem that physicists use laws to explain and understand how the universe works on a subatomic scale.

“We think we may be swimming in a sea of ​​background particles all the time that has not been directly discovered,”

; Fermilab co-chief scientist Chris Polly said at a press conference. Not even coming out of a vacuum that interacts with our miwons, and this gives us a window to see them. ”

The rule is called the Standard Model. Developed about 50 years ago, decades of experiments have been confirmed over and over again that descriptions of the particles and forces that make up and control the universe have been relatively on the mark until now.

“New particles, new physics may be beyond our research,” said Alexey Petrov, a particle physicist at Wayne State University.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Fermilab announced the results Wednesday of 8.2 billion races along routes outside Chicago, while the vast majority of people have physicists guarding it: the muons’ magnetic field doesn’t seem like the Standard Model says it should. Will be This is based on the new results. Published last month from the Large Hadron Collider of the European Center for Nuclear Research, it found a surprising proportion of particles after a high-speed collision.

If confirmed, the US results would be the weirdest discovery in the world of subatomic particles in nearly 10 years since the discovery of the Higgs boson, often referred to as the “God Particle”. Said Aida El-Khadra from the University of Illinois. People working on theoretical physics for the Fermilab experiment.

The point of the experiment, explains Johns Hopkins University theoretical physicist David Kaplan, is to pull particles apart and see what “funny things happen” to both the particles and the seemingly empty space between them.

“The secret is not only in matter. They live in something that seems to fill all space and time. This is a quantum field, ”Kaplan said.“ We’re putting energy into a vacuum and looking at what comes out.

Both results involved a strange, fleeting particle known as the miwon.Muons are heavier relatives of electrons orbiting the center of an atom. But muons are not part of atoms, they are unstable and usually only exist for two microseconds. After being discovered by cosmic rays in 1936, a famous scientist was so confused that a physicist asked, “Who ordered it?”

Graziano Venanzoni, an experimental physicist from the Italian laboratory who is one of the leading scientists in the United States’ Fermilab experiment called Muon g-2, said from the beginning.

The experiment sent the muon around a magnetic track, allowing the particles to persist long enough for the researchers to look closely. Preliminary results suggest that the Mion’s magnetic “spin” is 0.1% higher than what the standard model predicted. That might not sound like much. But for physicists, that particle is huge – more than enough to raise the current understanding of it.

It took the researchers another year or two to complete the analysis of the results of all laps around the 50-foot (14-meter) track.If the results had not changed, it would count as a major finding, Venanzoni said.

Separately, at the world’s largest atomic strike at CERN, physicists bumped against each other there to see what happened afterwards. One of the separate experiments of multiple collider particles measured what happens when particles called cosmetology or lower quarks collide.

The standard model predicts that interruption of these beauty quarks is likely to result in the same number of electrons and muons. The Large Hadron Collider Beauty Experiment says it’s like flipping a 1,000 coin and getting the same number of heads and tails, says the Large Hadron Collider Beauty Experiment. Chief Chris Parkes

But that’s not what happened.

Researchers surveyed the data over the years and found a few thousand crashes. Sheldon Stone, an experimental researcher at Syracuse University, said the 15% difference, with significantly more electrons than muons, said.

Neither experiment has been called an official discovery, as there is still a small chance that the results will be statistically quirky, the researchers said, performing as many trials as planned in both cases could be done internally. A year or two to the incredibly stringent statistical requirements for physics to hail it as a discovery.

If the results are possible, they will leverage “other calculations made” in the world of particle physics, Kaplan said.

“This is not a nonsense factor. This is unusual, ”Kaplan said. That could be explained by a new particle or force.

Or might these results be false? In 2011, there was a strange discovery in which particles called neutrinos appear to travel faster than light threatening models. But it turned out to be a result of a loose electrical connection problem in the experiment.

“We checked all of our cable connections and we did what we could to verify our data,” said Stone. “We are very confident, but you never know.”


Jamey Keaten, an AP writer in Geneva, contributed to this report.


Follow Seth Borenstein on Twitter @borenbears.


The Associated Press Department of Health and Science is sponsored by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Educational Sciences.The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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