Fermilab’s Tevatron finds ‘new force’ in the galaxy – and it’s nothing to do with the Higgs-boson
DATA from a major US atom smasher lab may have revealed a new elementary particle, or potentially a new force of nature.
A physicist involved in the discovery at Fermilab said the findings could offer clues to the persistent riddle of mass and how objects obtain it – one of the most sought-after answers in all of physics.
But experts aren’t ready to tell the rest of the world what it actually means just yet. They cautioned that more analysis was needed over the next several months to uncover the true nature of the discovery.
“There could be some new force beyond the force that we know,” physicist Giovanni Punzi said.
“If it is confirmed, it could point to a whole new world of interactions,” he told AFP.
While much remains a mystery, researchers agree that this is not the “God Particle”, or the Higgs-boson, a hypothetical elementary particle which has long eluded physicists who believe it could explain why objects have mass.
“The Higgs-boson is a piece that goes into the puzzle that we already have,” Prof Punzi said.
“Whereas this is something that goes a little bit beyond that – a new interaction, a new force.”
Prof Punzi said the new observation behaves differently than the Higgs-boson, which would be decaying into heavy quarks, or particles.
The new discovery “is decaying in normal quarks”, Prof Punzi said. “It has different features.
“One thing we know for sure – it is not the Higgs-boson. That is the only thing we know for sure.”
For more than a year physicists have been studying what appears to be a “bump” in the data from the Illinois-based Fermilab, which operates the powerful particle accelerator, or atom-smasher, Tevatron.
The Tevatron was once the most powerful machine in the world for such purposes until 2008 when the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) became operational at CERN.
The US machine began its work in the mid 1980s, and is scheduled for shutdown later this year when its funding runs dry.
“These results are certainly tantalising,” said Nigel Lockyer, director of Canada’s national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics, TRIUMF.
“On the one hand, there is clear evidence for something unexplained, and on the other, there is a long list of alternative explanations for what might be causing this subtle observation,” he said.
“My personal judgment is that this excitement is adding fuel to the fire for the next generation of results and discoveries that will be made at the LHC (in Europe) and elsewhere.
“We are so close to learning something profound.”
Read more: news.com.au – technology
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