New Large Hadron Collider Data At Odds With Standard Model of Particle Physics

By on September 1, 2015 // Science // 5 Comments

Image: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center via CC by 2.0
Image: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center via CC by 2.0

Scientists working with data from CERN’s Large Hadron Collider have discovered a possible anomaly that may overturn our Standard Model of particle physics.

The scientists, comprised of a team at the University of Maryland, studied data collected during the LHC’s initial run back in 2011-2012. More specifically, they looked at the decay of B mesons, which produce tau leptons and muons. What they found was that this decay happened at different and unexpected rates.

The Standard Model tells us that all leptons are treated equally by the fundamental forces, and decay at the same rate. But this new discovery, if true, could change that model.

“The Standard Model says the world interacts with all leptons in the same way. There is a democracy there. But there is no guarantee that this will hold true if we discover new particles or new forces. Lepton universality is truly enshrined in the Standard Model. If this universality is broken, we can say that we’ve found evidence for non-standard physics.” – University of Maryland professor Hassan Jawahery, co-author

Study co-author Brian Hamilton also points out that this new finding is in line with results from another experiment at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, so there is some corroboration. Nonetheless, new measurements will have to be made to confirm the results.

As for what all this means for our understanding of the universe, co-author Hassan Jawahery suggests that this may be a path toward unraveling the mysteries of dark matter: “…we know that dark matter and dark energy exist, but we don’t yet know what they are or how to explain them. Our result could be a part of that puzzle.”

On the other hand, scientists have meanwhile found the Higgs boson – observed at CERN in 2012 – to behave as predicted using the Standard Model.

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About the Author

Rob Schwarz is a writer, blogger, and part-time peddler of mysterious tales. He manages Stranger Dimensions in between changing aquarium filters and reading bad novels about mermaids.

  • luke

    cool article Rob, I just don’t have a clue what it’s about but anything coming out of CERN is worth my time to investigate and try to learn up on.

    • Rob

      To be honest, this one just boils down to “Scientists observed something they didn’t expect and it could be a big deal…or not. We’ll see.” It could always turn out like those faster-than-light neutrinos (which was an error caused by an unplugged cable, if I remember right).

      And to be 100% honest, I also find it difficult to wrap my head around some of these topics. They’re difficult to write about and I’m always afraid I’m getting something wrong. But I like to share this stuff, because I might want to refer to it in the future. CERN is cool.

    • Kayla

      Agree- CERN is very cool.

  • Kayla

    This is a very interesting article- thank you! I find CERN really fascinating. Definitely going to try and research more about this.

  • Lemuel Vargas

    might be they have been interacting at the quantum level? What do you think of this insight?