The Standard Model of Particle Physics has stood up to a lot of beatings since the advent of CERN and the Large Hadron Collider. New particles have been discovered, including the fabled Higgs Boson. Now, new experiments at the LHCb site are showing deviations that have some scientists believing they may have found particles never before detected. But, as with everything in quantum physics, not everything may be as clear as scientists like.
New Particles May Mean New Physics and Deviations from the Standard
This combination of two quarks, one matter, one anti-matter, usually decays extremely quickly into other various particles of matter. In this most recent experiment, however, those muons did not break down as often as predicted. This is a violation of the property known as “Lepton Universality”, and it has scientists puzzled, as it would require the presence of some previously unknown particles.
The deviation is not massive. It was 2.2 to 2.5 standard deviations from what was expected, or “sigma”. Larger deviations have been seen before, and then explained as more data was collected. Scientists are not so sure this time, as this result also occurred before. In an experiment three years ago, scientists observed a similar anomaly when looking at a different species of meson particle. Those experiments showed a 2.6 sigma deviation.
Head scientist on the project, Vincenzo Vagnoni of CERN, is not sure whether they have found new particles…. yet. However, he is hopeful that this tantalizing evidence will lead to more discoveries in the future. More experiments will be forthcoming.
“This is a tantalizing hint that something might be wrong with the Standard Model, but we need more statistics to definitely establish that this is not a weird statistical fluctuation.”