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New Type of Particle May Have Been Found 281

Posted by kdawson
from the outside-the-pipe dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The LHC is out of commission, but the Tevatron collider at Fermilab is still chugging along, and may have just discovered a new type of particle that would signal new physics. New Scientist reports that the Tevatron's CDF detector has found muons that seem to have been created outside of the beam pipe that confines the protons and anti-protons being smashed together. The standard model can't explain the muons, and some speculate that 'an unknown particle with a lifetime of about 20 picoseconds was produced in the collision, traveled about 1 centimeter, through the side of the beam pipe, and then decayed into muons.' The hypothetical particle even seems to have the right mass to account for one theory of dark matter."
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New Type of Particle May Have Been Found

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  • by Tumbleweed (3706) * on Monday November 03, 2008 @07:37PM (#25619729)

    What do you think they make Peeps out of?!

  • by verbalcontract (909922) on Monday November 03, 2008 @07:40PM (#25619783)

    That's no muon, it's a space station!

    I'll show myself out.

  • by Fluffeh (1273756) on Monday November 03, 2008 @07:48PM (#25619861)

    The hypothetical particle even seems to have the right mass to account for one theory of dark matter."

    Not to ask the blatantly obvious, but if it's the right mass for one theory of dark matter, I can't help but wonder where they are all being produced. Given a life of 20 picoseconds, I can't imagine that there would be monstrous factories of these things all over the universe to account for the stupidly large amount of mass they are supposed to account for. How come we haven't found them before?

    • Maybe these new particles are all moving at nearly c?

      You're right, probably the dark matter implications won't hold up.

      • by Tacvek (948259)

        As somebody notes below, it is apparently already traveling at (1cm/20ps)=~1.66c. So I'd say that at least some of the particles are traveling at over 99.99% c. ;D

    • by zappepcs (820751) on Monday November 03, 2008 @08:07PM (#25620083) Journal

      An absolutely good question. I've been wondering about the effect of radiation from GRBs, blackholes, and other radiation sources in the Universe for a while now. That radiation must have an effect other than raising the ambient temperature a little bit. Even if the radiation is not enough to fry all life on this planet, it's possible that radiation may have an effect on the Sun's activity... which in turn directly affects our climate.

      I do understand that the collider is a bit different than our Sun, but does anyone know what effect gamma ray bursts have on the efficacy or activity of our Sun?

      With all the hubbub about global warming, I've been getting more interested in what affect our planet's climate. Recently we have found/discovered a few things that might have some effect. While it seems a small thing at best, what is not known is the effect of combined events (or lack of) from outside our solar system on how our Sun behaves.

      Note: I am not convinced that man has not contributed to climate change. I simply am not convinced that we truly understand how and what controls our climate. I'd like to know all the factors that have nothing to do with mankind's interference. Until we do, there is no method to fully describe the climate model, nor predict any change to it.

      • by cowscows (103644) on Monday November 03, 2008 @11:22PM (#25621717) Journal

        I'm not an astrophysicist, or a physicist of any kind, but just thinking about this a little bit, I don't think the effects on the sun would be too significant. Or at least, anything that would significantly affect the sun would likely significantly affect the earth directly as well.

        The sun is so much larger, it has so much more mass in which to dissipate any energy that it receives. And either way, it's producing such a large amount of energy that I'd imagine whatever it receives from outside sources is just a drop in the bucket.

    • by mpsheppa (1088477) on Monday November 03, 2008 @08:10PM (#25620121)

      Not to ask the blatantly obvious, but if it's the right mass for one theory of dark matter, I can't help but wonder where they are all being produced. Given a life of 20 picoseconds, I can't imagine that there would be monstrous factories of these things all over the universe to account for the stupidly large amount of mass they are supposed to account for. How come we haven't found them before?

      I thought the same thing at first, but the article states that they are theorizing that the particle produced is not a dark matter particle itself, but rather the particle that carries forces between dark matter particles. It is entirely possible that there are stable dark-matter particles, but for the force-carrying particles to be unstable when produced in isolation.

    • I think it matches a particle predicted by one theory that might explain dark matter, not that the new particle actually could be a typical dark matter particle.

    • by Kjella (173770)

      Not to ask the blatantly obvious, but if it's the right mass for one theory of dark matter

      Simple: It isn't dark matter itself, but a particle in that theory of dark matter. Whatever dark matter is, we have a pretty good idea what it isn't and this isn't dark matter.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by symbolset (646467)

      Given a life of 20 picoseconds, I can't imagine that there would be monstrous factories of these things all over the universe to account for the stupidly large amount of mass they are supposed to account for.

      The factory was only working for about 100 picoseconds and most of the product was consumed in short order. Like CueCats though the unused product remains, eating up storage costs throughout the universe as we know it. Buy yours today!

      Seriously, though - a simpler explanation for the unexplained phenomena could be that the "gravitic constant" is not constant, as we know it to not be. If its inconstance is nonlinear that would explain a lot. A logarithmic depreciation of the gravitic constant from the b

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by epine (68316)

      The hypothetical particle even seems to have the right mass to account for one theory of dark matter."

      I'm so disappointed. I thought you were going to ask the usefully blatant question: would it have been possible to discover a particle with a mass that didn't fit at least one theory of dark matter? If the stupid thing had weighed a kilogram, there is probably some (totally cracked) theory of dark matter out there it would fit into perfectly. The problem with modern physics is that "theory of everything"

  • by LingNoi (1066278) on Monday November 03, 2008 @07:48PM (#25619865)

    I wish it was the god particle, rendering the whole point of building the LHC an epic fail. It would just be deliciously ironic.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    When asked about the new particle during the first test, one of the instruments that was monitoring it malfunctioned. One of the resident scientists were quoted as saying:

    "Overhead capacitors to one oh five percent. Uh, it's
    probably not a problem, probably, but I'm showing a small discrepancy
    in... well, no, it's well within acceptable bounds again. Sustaining
    sequence."

  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Monday November 03, 2008 @07:50PM (#25619901) Homepage

    Someone to replicate their results.

    Oops!

    • I've been colliding photons in my living room for sometime. I'll check for any evidence of this new particle.

  • by jfengel (409917) on Monday November 03, 2008 @07:53PM (#25619909) Homepage Journal

    The New Scientist article points to a paper at arxiv:

    http://arxiv.org/abs/0810.5357 [arxiv.org]

    with the rather less sensational title:

    Study of multi-muon events produced in p-pbar collisions at sqrt(s)=1.96 TeV

    I'm amused to note that the author list stretches over three pages, which I gather is common for this sort of paper.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      ... because a publication is not about excitement or popularity, but about solid results and conclusions.

      For excitement and popularity one publishes in Nature or Scientific American.

    • by PalmHair (1222728) on Monday November 03, 2008 @08:29PM (#25620301)
      Femilab studies multi-moan events produced with p-bar colisions and squirts? Reminds me of the end-of-the-world party I hosted just before the LHC was fired up. Let me tell you - I regret nothing, apart from not wearing a condom. You will say I am narrow-minded and too much focused on sex. It is not me, it is the world around me, I say. The first-ever artifical satelite to circle the Earth was in a shape of a four-tailed spermatozoid. The ultimate scientific triumph of the western world - the Apollo mission was lifted by the Saturn-5 rockets - the biggest phallic symbol ever made by the man. And now the Large H Collider that comes with the promise of pushing the entire Earth into a black hole - the most ultimate sexual act ever. Yes, I am a nerd and if you are reading this, you can be sure you are one too. Science and technology are made up by people like us - to substitute in a cowardly way what every man is supposed to live for - fast cars and beautiful women. Cheers!
      • And now the Large H Collider that comes with the promise of pushing the entire Earth into a black hole - the most ultimate sexual act ever.

        And now the Large Hardon Collider that comes with the promise of pushing the entire Earth into a black hole - the most ultimate sexual act ever.

        There fixed it for you.

    • wait new scientist was less sensational, oh right less sensational than slashdot! That is like being less gay than big gay Al right?

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by crhylove (205956)

      Yep, I worked on the team. I'm the guy who put all the words spelled A-N-D in. I authored most of the name list consequently!

    • by mako1138 (837520)

      I'm amused to note that the author list stretches over three pages, which I gather is common for this sort of paper.

      The really interesting thing about this paper is that not everybody in the collaboration signed off on it -- usually the author list is even longer.

  • Probability? (Score:2, Informative)

    The question here is about repeatability, and given how long it's taken to have an anomaly like this surface, the only other accelerator that might be capable of confirming this find (ie, doing it again) is probably the LHC.

    Anyone know what the probability of doing this again might be?

  • by EEPROMS (889169) on Monday November 03, 2008 @07:55PM (#25619931)
    Doctor " Congratulations professor!! you have a new bouncing baby particle"
    Professor "look at those electrons, its hung like a horse"
    Doctor "eer, sorry to disappoint your sir but that is just residual background noise"
  • CV (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mogget03 (917514) on Monday November 03, 2008 @07:56PM (#25619937)
    John Conway talks about this over at Cosmic Variance: http://cosmicvariance.com/2008/11/02/cdf-ghost-muons/ [cosmicvariance.com]
  • Poor little guy gets a single centimeter in 20 picoseconds-time and poofs into nothingness but I'll give it an A for effort. I hope this does ultimately afford us a new awareness into how things work down the road; preferably in my lifetime. (Read: Something absolutely astounding).
  • New Physics (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sexconker (1179573) on Monday November 03, 2008 @08:34PM (#25620357)

    I conjecture that it's the same old physics, and that we only understand it a bit better.

    • Re:New Physics (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ThanatosMinor (1046978) on Monday November 03, 2008 @08:45PM (#25620457)

      I conjecture that it's the same old physics, and that we only understand it a bit better.

      Physics is not Truth, nor is it nature or reality. It is an attempt at a scientific model of nature. When we only had Newtonian mechanics, General relativity was new physics. New models, new math, new science, same reality.

  • by exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) on Monday November 03, 2008 @08:58PM (#25620565) Journal

    > The hypothetical particle even seems to have the right mass to account for one theory of dark matter.

    That may say more about the number of theories of dark matter than about this particle.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jd (1658)

      In order to be applicable to Dark Matter theories, the particle would need to be traveling at near light-speed for the lifetime to be long enough to matter. But if it's traveling that fast, the mass would have changed and no longer fit the theory. However, if the relative velocity is low enough for the mass to be right, it simply isn't going to last long enough to have any impact.

      Besides which, I suspect further discoveries in cosmology will reduce - and eventually eliminate - any need for dark matter. Gala

  • subatomic particle.. its a Black Hoooo *FLASH*

  • by Dan East (318230) on Monday November 03, 2008 @09:44PM (#25620919) Homepage Journal

    "Particle May Have Been Found "

    It is really good - and amazing - that they found this particle. I've lost sub-atomic particles before, and the things are just so incredibly small that it is unbelievably difficult to find them again. The resulting migraine from eye-strain can be terrible.

    • the worst part is even when you know exactly where they are, there speed is deceptive!

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by symbolset (646467)

      When you drop a subatomic particle just let it go, man. It's gone.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by LingNoi (1066278)

      The worst part is when you look in the fridge, under the bed, on the tv stand... and the particle was in your pocket the whole time!

  • "The hypothetical particle even seems to have the right mass to account for one theory of dark matter."

    An excellent bet is that any new particle will rapidly give rise to dozens if not hundreds of theories as to why it is exactly what's needed to explain dark matter.

    (In other words, instant physics is frequently not very trustworthy, and instant theoretical physics is especially frequently not very trustworthy.

  • Okay, maybe not 1.21, but it was still a Doc Brown moment for me...
  • by v4vijayakumar (925568) on Tuesday November 04, 2008 @12:46AM (#25622359)

    an unknown particle with a lifetime of about 20 picoseconds was produced in the collision, traveled about 1 centimeter

    That is 16000 times faster than light..!

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The statement in the article is correct!

      The (half) life-time of a particle is the time measured with a clock traveling with the particle, which slows down when approaching the light speed c. Hence the path it 'survives' becomes longer.

      That's relativity.

    • by JohnFluxx (413620) on Tuesday November 04, 2008 @05:13AM (#25623671)

      Your math is way off. Using google:

      (20 picoseconds) * c = 0.599584916 centimeters

      Given that
      1) 20 picoseconds is a half-life
      2) Time slows down for the muons.

      It's not surprising that they travelled about 1cm.

  • The X(3872) Particle (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rocketship Underpant (804162) on Tuesday November 04, 2008 @02:08AM (#25622893)

    There are several mysterious particles that aren't easily identified by the Standard Model. One in particular is the X(3872) particle, which was discovered by Japanese scientists and confirmed by other laboratories. It might be a tetraquark particle or even a meson molecule, but scientists are just guessing for now.

    http://www.symmetrymagazine.org/breaking/2008/04/13/the-charming-case-of-x3872/ [symmetrymagazine.org]

The unfacts, did we have them, are too imprecisely few to warrant our certitude.

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