November 28, 2021

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New fundamental physics? An unexplained phenomenon from the Large Hadron Collider experiment

Result declared by LHCB experiment CERN It revealed other traces of phenomena that cannot be explained by our current theory of fundamental physics.

In March 2020, the same experiment published evidence that violates one of the foundations of the Standard Particle Model – our best theory of particles and forces – suggesting the possibility of new fundamental particles and forces.

currently More measurement Physicists at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge have found similar effects that are giving impetus to new physics of matter.

“The fact that we saw the same effect as our colleagues in March definitely increases the possibility that we’re really on the verge of discovering something new.” – Harry útes

The Standard Model describes all the known particles that make up the universe and the forces that interact with them. So far, it has passed all experimental tests, but physicists know it must be incomplete. It does not involve the force of gravity, nor can it explain how matter is formed through it the great explosionAnd there is no particle in it that can explain the mysterious dark matter that astronomy says is five times more abundant than the matter that makes up the visible world around us.

As a result, physicists have long sought traces of physics beyond the Standard Model that could help us unravel some of these mysteries.

One of the best ways to discover new particles and forces is to study particles known as beauty quarks. These are the strange relatives of the up and down quarks that make up the core of each nuclear.

Beauty quarks do not exist in large numbers around the world because they are incredibly short – they live on average only one trillionth of a second before they are transformed into other particles or decay. However, every year, CERN’s massive particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider, produces billions of beauty quarks, which are recorded by a specially made detector called LHCb.

LHCB Experience in LHC-IP 8 Cave. Credit: CERN

The decay pattern of beauty quarks can be influenced by unseen forces or the presence of particles. In March, a team of LHCb physicists released results showing that beauty quarks have been reduced to particles called muons compared to their lighter relatives, electrons. This cannot be explained in the Standard Model, which treats electrons and muons equally, except for the fact that the electron is about 200 times lighter than the muon. As a result, beauty quarks must decay into muons and electrons at similar rates. Instead, the LHCb physicists found that the decay of muons only occurs 85% more often than the decay of electrons.

The difference between the LHCb result and the Standard Model was roughly three units of experimental error or “3 sigma,” as it is known in particle physics. This means that statistical chance has only a one in a thousand chance of causing an outcome.

Assuming the result is correct, the most likely explanation is that the new force pulling electrons and muons with different forces interferes with how these beauty quarks decay. However, more data is needed to reduce experimental error to confirm that the effect is real. Only when the result reaches the “5 sigma” limit, when the chance is less than one in a million due to chance, do particle physicists begin to consider it a real discovery.

“The fact that we saw the same effect as our colleagues in March certainly indicates that we are on the verge of discovering something really new,” said Dr. Harry Cliff of the Cavendish Laboratory. “It would be great to shed more light on the mystery.”

Today The result Investigation of two new decays of the beauty quark from the same decay family as used in the March results. The team found the same effect – the decay of muons occurred 70 percent more than the decay of electrons. This time the error is large, which means that the deviation is around “2 sigma”, which means it has a more than 2% probability that it is due to the statistical specificity of the data. Although the result alone is not convincing, it adds further support to the growing body of evidence that there are new fundamental forces waiting to be discovered.

“Excitement is building at the LHC as the advanced LHCB detector is turned on and additional data is collected to provide the data needed to confirm or refute any key discovery,” said Professor Val Gibson. Cavendish Laboratory.

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