Fundamental physics: an anomaly opens the door to new particles

Forum Science Fundamental physics: an anomaly opens the door to new particles

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    Fundamental physics: an anomaly opens the door to new particles

    Particles still unknown as well as forces beyond the standard model of physics? This time, hope was born from a muon, a particle whose oscillation speed would be slightly faster than what the model predicts.

    The is obviously more complex than what this summary suggests. Within Fermilab -laboratory of located in Illinois – it was necessary to ship 8 billion muons in a 14 meter ring and subject them to a . The rate at which the muons should then have oscillated was known, but it turned out to be faster. A difference of 0.0002%, which is enough to tell physicists that there is something else going on here.

    This lead has been followed by physicists since 2001, when a similar experiment also concluded with muons oscillating slightly faster than expected – but the results were then deemed “statistically insignificant”. The Fermilab experiment started in 2018, and what has just been presented, which corresponds to the first of operations, tends to confirm the results of 2001.

    The central idea behind this back and forth is the standard model of the : the one that defines that four forces govern our , be there , l’ and the weak and strong nuclear forces (or interactions). The holds up, but she does not explain , hence the speculations – decades old – on the existence of a “fifth “, or exotic particles with still unknown properties.

    The “anomaly” now calculated at Fermilab, and described in a study published on April 7, perhaps originates from a “quantum phenomenon called virtual particles”, summarizes the . These are pairs made up of a particle and its twin of, which appear and disappear at quantum fluctuations: during their brief appearances, they would affect the behavior of muons. But this is the easiest explanation and in reality, with the available, “there is no single explanation that stands out as being more elegant or more satisfying”, sums up for its part .

    All of this is therefore highly theoretical. How to demonstrate it? There the calculations stop and the speculations begin. What this research is heading for – and there remain two stages to the five of the experiments on the underway at Fermilab – it is the detection of indirect evidence of the existence of other types of particles, perhaps themselves governed by one or more different forces. But in terms of getting direct evidence for the existence of these particles, the remain open.

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Forum Science Fundamental physics: an anomaly opens the door to new particles