Particle ‘Found’ at CERN Collider Deemed a Fluke

     (CN) — Hopes for the discovery of a new particle were extinguished Friday after it was determined that a “bump” in the Large Hadron Collider was a false alarm.
     The discovery of a new particle would likely have shifted our fundamental understanding of physics.
     Two different collider detectors — Atlas and CMS — recorded the “bump,” but it seems to have just been a fluke.
     “Coincidences are always strange when they happen, but we’ve been looking very hard at our data to make sure we fully understand them and won’t see anything in the new sample,” David Charlton, leader of the Atlas experiment at the collider, told journalists Friday.
     Speaking in Chicago at the International Conference on High Energy Physics, Charlton described scientists’ initial enthusiasm about a potential discovery.
     “There was a lot of excitement when we started to collect data. But in the (latest results) we see no sign of a bump, there’s nothing,” he said. “It’s a pity because it would have been a really fantastic thing if there had been a new particle.”
     An unusually high number of gamma rays produced during a collision prompted the potential discovery, which scientists thought could have been the result of a new particle decaying. The emitting of gamma rays was not anticipated in precollision models.
     Some experts had speculated that the bump could have resulted from a graviton, a hypothetical particle that moderates the force of gravitation in the framework of quantum field theory — the theoretical framework for constructing quantum mechanical models of subatomic particles.
     An increase in gamma rays signaled the existence of the Higgs Boson particle — known as the “God particle” — in 2013.
     Scientists discovered the Higgs Boson four years ago, after physicists had predicted its existence years ago as part of the theory of subatomic physics known as the Standard Model.
     The Standard Model explains how particles interact and combine, in addition to describing how the forces of nature — such as electricity and magnetism — work as well as how nuclear forces hold atoms together.
     However, the model only explains about 4 percent of the universe.
     Despite the misreading, Fabiola Gianotti, director general of the European Center for Nuclear Research where the LHC is located, remained optimistic about the machine’s role in scientific advancement.
     “The superb performance of the LHC accelerator, experiments and computing bode extremely well for a detailed and comprehensive exploration of the (new) energy scale, and significant progress in our understanding of fundamental physics,” she said.
     John Butterworth, a professor at University College London who also works on the Atlas experiment, was also upbeat despite the setback.
     “If you imagine we have landed on a new island of physics and we are scanning the landscape — if we don’t see anything this year, it means that there are no amazing new civilizations with huge cities; there are no spectacular volcanoes there that we see with our first flyby,” he said.
     “But it doesn’t mean that there is not something hiding in the undergrowth that we will find later. It just means we will have to do that slowly and carefully and really have to do our job over the next months and years.”

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