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Evidence Mounts for New Physics via the Tevatron Particle Collider

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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The CDF experiment at FermilabA group of physicists working with data from a particle detector at the Tevatron collider announced last month that they had found something they could not explain. High-speed smash-ups between protons and their antimatter counterparts, observed by the Illinois site’s CDF detector, appeared to yield a certain kind of package in unexpected abundance: a massive particle known as the W boson along with two jets of other particles. The CDF excess hinted at the existence of some unknown particle, an unidentified and possibly disruptive addition to the family of particles described by the long-reigning, exceptionally well-tested Standard Model of particle physics.

That hint has now gotten stronger with the addition of new Tevatron data, according to a conference talk (pdf—the relevant section begins on page 31) by CDF team member Giovanni Punzi of the National Institute of Nuclear Physics in Pisa, Italy. Punzi said that the evidence for new physics was now closer to the five-standard-deviation (5-sigma) threshold for confidence in a finding that physicists use as the gold standard for a new discovery. (At the time of the April announcement CDF only had enough data to support a 3.2-sigma claim.) Now, independent confirmation from DZero, the other detector at the Tevatron, or from the European Large Hadron Collider would greatly strengthen the case for a new particle.

In a post on Discover‘s Cosmic Variance blog, Caltech theoretical physicist Sean M. Carroll nicely contextualized the tantalizing but still unconfirmed finding:

If this is real—still a very, very, big if—it’s the beginning of the "beyond the Standard Model era" in collider particle physics. Things aren’t going to snap into place overnight; there will be false starts, mysteries, and sudden epiphanies. That’s where the real fun is in science.

Photo of the CDF detector: Fermilab





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  1. 1. robert schmidt 9:06 pm 05/31/2011

    Exciting! We are on the verge of a change in the way we understand the universe. Keep the news coming!

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  2. 2. Torbjörn Larsson, OM 1:55 pm 06/1/2011

    Well, not a change in the way (method) we understand but what (more result).

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  3. 3. Thim 8:36 pm 06/1/2011

    Physicists must give up their wrong theories (standard model, relativity theories) then they will be able to understand what’s happening in collisions.
    Hartwig Thim

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  4. 4. robert schmidt 10:22 pm 06/1/2011

    @Thim, I fail to see what is "wrong" with the standard model or relativity. Both have been proven many times over. It is true that neither theory explains everything but that is not a requirement for a theory. Newtonian physics is still used in engineering regardless of the fact that it doesn’t explain what happens at extreme masses or velocities. When a new theory about the nature of the universe arises from the results of the Tevtron, quantum mechanics will still reliably predict the phenomenon in its domain. I suspect you are one of those armchair-scientists who have understood just enough about an alternative "theory" to think you have it all figured out, while actually understanding nothing. But if you do truly have it all figured out I will be interested to read your peer reviewed paper. Until then please look up Dunning-Kruger.

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  5. 5. marabutt 12:05 am 06/2/2011

    Indeed Robert, what would a retired professor with a reputation of being an electronics and microelectronics guru know about physics?

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  6. 6. radobozov 7:01 am 06/2/2011

    It is difficult to bring general relativity down to quantum mechanics although space curved by the interference of matter and antimatter could be essential in perceiving how particles/strings/waves interact as a function of matter/time relative to space/energy. Space is matter occupying time defined by thy interference. A demon can be in a human dream tonight and in his dog dream simultaneously although partiality may be asymmetric. There is nothing wrong with model standardization if time can be caught on time. Most particles may be in fact different observable states of same function relative to time, and different state functions of same observation as Heisenberg-Schrodinger foundation of QM implies. One thing is for sure, the smaller the particle/time observation, the larger the energy/space expansion (curvature) – principle of matter compressibility. QCD and QED may indeed have some relationship outside of charge reducibility.

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  7. 7. robert schmidt 6:56 pm 06/2/2011

    @marabutt, How would that make him an authority on relativity and quantum mechanics? How does a degree in another field make him more of an authority in this field than the vast majority of scientists who actually study it? Regardless of what he thinks he knows, the proof is in the science, so again, lets see the peer reviewed paper(s) that prove relativity and quantum mechanics are wrong. If he actually is a "guru" he should understand those requirements.

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  8. 8. Wilhelmus de Wilde 10:59 am 06/4/2011

    Guru’s in science do happily not exist, okay we respect our great minds but not worship them, because every scientist is aware of the fact that what is now thought as most close to the truth, tomorrow new ideas will pop up to be checked and if possible proved, so that our former theories can be improved or changed.

    It is really a great time for scientists with the LHC running and the Planck Probe in the sky, but even this borders will once be reached and new frontiers will be waiting for us, but never throw away your old shoes when you don’t have new one’s is an old dutch proverb.

    keep on thinking
    Wilhelmus

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  9. 9. rwstutler 11:51 pm 06/4/2011

    incomplete =/= wrong

    for myself, I am looking forward to deeper "incomplete" theories.

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  10. 10. verdai 4:40 pm 06/9/2011

    Im Not looking forward with any pleasure to many of these "deeper incomplete"s, even tho they are inevitable in life.
    So the new elements arrive…

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  11. 11. debu 12:10 pm 06/24/2011

    Why you do not accept the balloon inside balloon theory of matter and antimatter universe producing gravitoethertons at common spherical boundary by annihilation and injected into our universe as ether or dark energy and it is a non uniform field density forcing us to revise NEWTON EQUATION ..F=P.G.M.m/R.R where P is permeability of gravitoethertons soup.

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