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New Particle Identified At LHC 164

Posted by timothy
from the particularly-new dept.
First time accepted submitter m4ktub writes "A team of researchers working with the ATLAS experiment at the LHC have published an article in arXiv where they describe what is believed to be the first observation of a new particle: the boson Chi-b (3P). Professor Roger Jones, Head of the Lancaster ATLAS group, said 'While people are rightly interested in the Higgs boson, which we believe gives particles their mass and may have started to reveal itself, a lot of the mass of everyday objects comes from the strong interaction we are investigating using the Chi-b.'"
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New Particle Identified At LHC

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  • Who knew (Score:5, Funny)

    by Hatta (162192) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @11:17AM (#38459586) Journal

    They even have chibi particles now.

  • by TheLink (130905) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @11:17AM (#38459594) Journal
    So is that the chibi form of the Higgs boson?
  • by PortHaven (242123) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @11:17AM (#38459600) Homepage

    Will His son particle do for now?

  • by LordLimecat (1103839) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @11:19AM (#38459626)

    Not being an expert in such things, I wonder if anyone could give a good, clear explanation of what they mean by "observed". My understanding is that they are seeing indirect evidence of it somehow? The article (and many that ive seen like this one) seem to stress that theyre not sure, which is why I ask. Is it something along the lines of seeing a burst of EM radiation in a particular signature that they have not seen before, from which they inference a new particle was involved in the collision?

    Can someone also explain how they would inference which quarks make up a particle like this? I mean, we obviously cant just place it under a microscope :)

    • Re:"Observed"? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Zandamesh (1689334) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @11:20AM (#38459644)

      This guy explains things pretty well:
      http://profmattstrassler.com/ [profmattstrassler.com]

      • by Dr. Spork (142693)
        Really great link - important enough to warrant appending it to the summary by the /. editors. This directly answers the first question I had when I read the abstract (and unfortunately asked in a lower thread).
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Poeli (573204)

      You look at the decay modes. The know what the put in and they see the end result of the decay. With energy, mass, momentum conversation, they can reconstruct the decay. And if you find enough statistical evidence to support your claim, they you have found a 'new' particle.

  • Chi-b,e h? (Score:4, Funny)

    by DC2088 (2343764) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @11:20AM (#38459634)
    Is it a dot or is it a speck?
  • by UncHellMatt (790153) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @11:29AM (#38459758)
    The movie about the particle collider this particle's discovery.

    "Chi-b Chi-b, BANG BANG"

    /me ducks
    • Rule 34 suggests that there are already hentai movies with a similar theme..

    • I would bring in the irrational fears surrounding the LHC itself into the movie (adds drama) and call it "Chi-b Chi-b BIG BANG!", but then...there's probably a reason I am not in the film industry. ;)

      • by mug funky (910186)

        i am in the film industry, and the only reason this hasn't come out yet is that Michael Bay is too busy. ...btw, there's an anime called "Steins;Gate" that has plenty of irrational LHC fears in it.

    • For those who don't know, the Greek letter chi is normally pronounced like "kai" in English. I'm not sure why the transliteration is unintuitive--perhaps the pronunciation has changed over time.
  • (Possible) FTL neutrinos, new particle, and the Higgs-Boson on the horizon. It's amazing how many things can get clustered together.
    • by jellomizer (103300) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @11:59AM (#38460060)
      It is if you can get a job as one. And if you find that sort of stuff interesting.

      However it could be argued that is is also becoming worse to be a physicist. We need larger and more expensive methods of discovering the next step. The discoveries of old can be done in a normal college lab. With say a million dollars worth of equipment enough for a normal institution to invest in. The new stuff is taking billions of dollars, to find. So discoveries are limited to what large governments are willing to pay for.
      • So what your saying is that the human brain can only climb the ladder of knowledge and understanding so high. It's a biological limitation. But here's a real twist of irony I can see being played out in the future. We develop AI that will augment or replace our ability to discovery and develop on our own. The machines will take over, and we worship them as God/s because from our perspective, it's no difference.

        Religion worships a conceptual God/s.
        Science creates a physical God/s to be worshiped.

        • No, I didn't say anything like that.
          It is just all the new stuff we are learning about physics are now needing more expensive and complicated tools to discover them. Making many of the Institution of learning inadequate to the job of increasing our understanding of the universe because the money and resources it takes to discover these new ideas.
        • Not just biological.
          Take the top quark, discovered at Fermilab in 1995, 22 years after it was theorized. Why did it take so long? Because it's very massive, and thus very unstable. 172.9±1.5 GeV/c2 is enormous for an elementary particle, and takes a very powerful accelerator to create. That is, it takes a bunch of energy.
          Energy is not free, even in a post-singularity civilization energy will have a cost. Energy used for a particle accelerator can't be used elsewhere. The LHC shuts down in the winter
        • The machines will take over, and we worship them as God/s because from our perspective, it's no difference.

          Say for yourself. If that happens on my lifetime, I plan to BE one of them, not worship them. Or do you think those machines will jump so sudenly from "less smart than a human" to "too much more smart than a human" that we wond be able to cath up?

          • by lennier (44736)

            I plan to BE one of them

            How cute, this carbon unit thinks it has a chance of being one of the Silicon Elite. Its babblings amuse us, we'll put it into the protein recycling tanks last.

            Nah, just kidding, of course we'll chuck it in first in case it gives the others ideas.

        • by geekoid (135745)

          except these gods can be turned off.

          No, they will be servants and we will enjoy the fruits of their labor.

    • by bjorniac (836863)

      and funding cuts left, right and center. It's a great time to have tenure, but an awful time to be coming out of grad school/post doc. The last stat I heard (a year out of date by now) was that the conversion rate of 1st postdoc -> faculty position was 1 in 4.

  • I bet when you reroute these through the deflector dish, it'll REALLY dry the Borg's shorts!

    • by canajin56 (660655)
      Don't forget to inverse the phase polarity or it could blow out every EPS conduit on deck 13!
      • by cyberchondriac (456626) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @01:26PM (#38461036) Journal
        I wish I was an engineer in the Star Trek universe. 95% of every friggin' technical problem is immediately solved by "rerouting power" somewhere or reversing polarity. The other 5% were fixed by "modulating the frequency".
        • by lennier (44736)

          Ain't nothin' of a delicate or technical nature on a starship that cain't be fixed proper by routin' more superheated radioactive plasma through it.

          That's just a fact.

        • by Maritz (1829006)
          Not to mention they could use a few fuses or something similar behind some of their consoles. Boy do those sparks fly when shit gets real. I'd like to see the official federation stats on number of officers killed by exploding computer workstations.
        • by geekoid (135745)

          I would invent the 'fuse' and save millions of lives.
          Then I would be worshiped as a god.

        • by raygundan (16760)

          To be fair, I guess if you have a borderline-limitless energy source and a bunch of spatially separated gizmos spread all over your ship to power to do things, most of your failures probably ARE in your power distribution system.

          On top of that there's the whole "do more of X" class of problems, too. If your weapons can't cut it on "high," but the devices themselves are rated to take more power, you can do more shooting if you turn off the propulsion or the shield.

          Day-to-day operation of a machine like that

  • The second link is hosed, but the abstract says they discovered "a new chi_b state" of quarkonium. This is well beyond my physics comfort zone, and maybe there is no real difference between states and particles in this realm, but intuitively it seems like there should be one. In my, case a hardon is not something I have now, but when I get one, it's not like I get a new organ. It's just a temporary state of a pre-existing organ. Sorry for not using a car analogy; I'm just trying to understand how physicists
    • by FTWinston (1332785) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @11:53AM (#38459990) Homepage
      Quarks come in several different flavours, and protons and neutrons (i.e. almost all "normal" matter) are made of the two lightest flavours: up and down. The heavier flavours are much rarer, and generally very short-lived (which is why you need to "make" them in such an experiment before you can observe them). Quarks normally group up in 3s; with a proton being two ups and a down, and a neutron being two downs and an up. Another form of quark grouping consists of a quark and an anti-quark of the same flavour, which is what's been observed here. And this is the first time that one of these pairs has been observed that consists of quarks with the beauty flavour. Other flavours of pair have been observed before, but its the fact that this one consists of beauty quarks that makes it "new"
      • Ignore my use of the word "flavour" in the above post ... that's a quantum chronodynamics term, which I managed to confuse with the correct (and much more mundane) term, "type"
      • by grep_rocks (1182831) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @12:06PM (#38460118)
        Actually this particle is a b anti-b pair(b_bar), and particles consisting of b b_bar have been observed before - what makes this particle different from the others is that the b b_bar are in a different state of excitation (3P) - Just like having hydrogen ( consisting of a proton and an electron) in its ground state (1S) you can have hydrogen in an excited state (2S, 1P, 3S, 2P.. etc..) where the electron is in a higher energy state or orbital. With the strong force a large amount of the mass of most particles is tied up in the field binding the two quarks together, so a quarkonium "atom" in a different excited state can have a vastly different mass than the same "atom" in the ground state. For light quarks (uds) almost all the mass of particles made from these quarks comes from the binding energy of the strong force, a neutron consisting of d u d has a mass of around 1GeV but the mass of each of the light quarks is less than 0.001GeV...(1MeV) - this article really isn't that big news, people routinely find these excitations all the time - the heavy quark excitations are interesting in that the masses of these particles can be predicted relatively easily and can be used to test models of the strong force...
        • That's what I get for only reading the BBC's article. Thanks for the info!
      • Quarks normally group up in 3s; with a proton being two ups and a down, and a neutron being two downs and an up. Another form of quark grouping consists of a quark and an anti-quark of the same flavour, which is what's been observed here. And this is the first time that one of these pairs has been observed that consists of quarks with the beauty flavour. Other flavours of pair have been observed before, but its the fact that this one consists of beauty quarks that makes it "new".

        So, in essence, {and pardon the food analogy} you're saying that most matter is like an 3-scoop ice cream cone - two vanilla, one chocolate, or two chocolate, one vanilla - and what they've found here is one scoop of double-mint truffle fudge, two scoops gold-leaf-covered Cherry Garcia? (ie, it's still an ice cream cone as expected, just with more exotic flavors.)

    • by PvtVoid (1252388) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @12:10PM (#38460180)

      The second link is hosed, but the abstract says they discovered "a new chi_b state" of quarkonium. This is well beyond my physics comfort zone, and maybe there is no real difference between states and particles in this realm, but intuitively it seems like there should be one.

      Combinations of fundamental particles like quarks themselves behave as particles. The most familiar examples of such composite particles [wikipedia.org] are the proton and neutron, but there are many others consisting of various excited quantum states of various combinations of quarks. Quark/antiquark pairs are called "mesons", and combinations of three quarks are called "baryons". Since energy and mass are pretty much interchangeable in these systems, excited (higher energy) states, act like particles with a larger mass.

    • by blueg3 (192743)

      It's useful not to rely on intuition with quantum mechanics.

      So, note that "quarkonium" isn't a particle, but rather a class of particles -- a quark bound to its antiquark. A collection of quarks held together by the strong force is a bound state. Bound states of quarks are particles.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 22, 2011 @11:52AM (#38459980)

    The new particle is made up of a 'beauty quark' and a 'beauty anti-quark', which are then bound together

    Can anyone explain why do they not annihilate?

    • Cos they just don't. Perhaps there's a more compelling reason that I was either not taught or don't remember, but my utterly-insufficient classical (non-car) analogy would be that they're orbiting each other, due to their opposing electric charges, without actually touching, as they're so incredibly small. They'd have to touch to annihilate. But as you don't ever actually get free quarks, thinking of them as discrete balls is not exactly helpful.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by mmell (832646)
        Here, try this . . .

        Let's start by understanding that many of the subatomic particles we believe exist have never been "seen", per se. We have indirect observations, combined with mathematical models which appear to make good predictions about what we may observe when specific interactions occur.

        In many cases, the mathematical models are created to explain a given observation and then tested by predicting what may be observed under different circumstances. Quark theory is just one such set of mathemati

        • by PvtVoid (1252388) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @12:35PM (#38460454)

          Within quark theory, quark/antiquark annihilation is not defined, as that has not been necessary to explain the phenomena we have observed nor does it lead to any verifiable predictions.

          This is total nonsense. Quark/antiquark annihilation [aps.org] is perfectly well-described in standard theory. The answer to the OP's question is that the quark and antiquark do annihilate, which is why all mesons are unstable. But it takes a little bit of time for the annihilation to happen, which gives you the lifetime of the meson.

          • by mmell (832646)
            You're right that I missed a point: Quark/antiquark annihilation requires that the quark and antiquark be "unconfined".

            The observed decay of certain mesons (giving rise to two photons in the case of the pi-muon, for example) is theorized with a high degree of confidence to be the result of a quark/antiquark annihilation.

            In the case of a bottom quark confined with a bottom anti-quark (the boson mentioned above) - confinement means that quark/antiquark annihilation is undefined, since the quark and antiquar

            • by PvtVoid (1252388)

              Incidentally, there is a differnce between "nonsense" and "mistaken", you insensitive clod.

              I'm aware of that. You're speaking nonsense, or, in technical terms, gibberish.

              • by mmell (832646)
                Hmmm . . .

                I was about to admit that I was completely mistaken, that in this particular case the quark/antiquark annihilation doesn't take place because of the issue of confinement but that in many other cases such annihilation does indeed seem to take place.

                But . . . never mind.

    • by professionalfurryele (877225) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @12:59PM (#38460708)

      They can and they do, but the process does not have to occur instantly (although it will happen pretty darn fast by human time scales) and the probability of decaying via one of these processes may be very small indeed. In this case it seems (although I haven't really had a chance to read the paper) that other decay processes occur faster than any annihilation process, so those happen very rarely.

      Why do they happen very rarely? Well it looks from the abstract that this is a excited state of the beauty anti-beauty system, so it probably has to shed some angular momentum before it can decay to any reasonably small number of elementary particles (angular momentum is a conserved quantity). This thing basically shoots off a photon (a quanta of light) and turns into another beauty anti-beauty meson called an Upsilon, which can then decay via an annihilation process.

      In short a conserved quantity (probably angular momentum) makes it far more likely that this system will decay to a Upsilon rather than some final state which is the result of some annihilation process.

      Why is angular momentum conserved? Because the laws of physics appear to be symmetric under rotations (simplifying a tad). Why is that the case? Hell if I know.

      One poster has suggested that it is because the particles are not 'touching'. At this length scale the notion of a position of a particle is questionable at best. These are not localised things that are going in circular orbits. Another poster has suggested that quarks are just mathematical objects. This is true, but it is also true of every theoretical notion you have. Given that all you have in your brain is models of reality this position works just as well when applied to dogs and cats as it does to quarks and upsilons.

      • by Old Wolf (56093)

        Why is angular momentum conserved? Because the laws of physics appear to be symmetric under rotations (simplifying a tad). Why is that the case? Hell if I know.

        I can elaborate on this - thanks to reading Lumo's blog today!

        Imagine you perform some experiment. Then you rotate your experiment, along with the entire universe, so it is pointing north-east instead of north. You will of course get the same result as you did the first time. In fact it seems tautological. How would you even know that you had done this rotation, since everything rotated? In fact that is the definition of rotational symmetry.

        You have alluded to Noether's theorem without really understandi

        • Your elaboration is welcome, and everything you have said is essentially true. However I would advise you not to make assumptions about what others understand when they emphasise that they are simplifying.

          I do have one minor correction though. You imply that angular momentum is a vector quantity, when in fact a bivector valued quantity (or antisymmetric second order tensor if you prefer). In three dimensions this quantity is dual to a vector (and is also called a pseudovector), but In more than three dimens

    • by Hatta (162192) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @01:11PM (#38460846) Journal

      It's against the rules of acquisition.

  • Quoting: "However, whereas the Higgs is not made up of smaller particles, the Chi-b(3P) combines two very heavy objects via the same 'strong force which holds the atomic nucleus together."

    I hope the LHC building is designed to withstand the weight of these heavy objects!

  • What started out as Philosophy and turned into Physics, now has gone back to be Philosophy again because it's too weird and difficult to understand.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by AdrianKemp (1988748)

      Well you're right about that, but for all the wrong reasons.

      What CERN is doing is in fact not science, really. They're smashing shit together and looking at the results and going "woo! found something"

      That's not science. Science requires a hypothesis and a test, not just digging around until you find something.

      Sometimes they do flirt with science, the hunt for the higgs for instance is essentially science based.

      • I don't think you realize what science actually is... or the moderator who gave you a point. Have we gotten so bad?

        Science is a philosophy (there is even a college course on it I recommend you take.) USA high school science (as i've experienced) is piss poor; that was NOT science, they missed the whole point with all that memorization "learning".

        You don't need theories before you smash shit together! Observation doesn't require forethought! So astrophysics is not real science then? Medicine? Wind tunnels?

        • One of us doesn't understand what science is; you're just wrong about who.

          You actually believe that happening upon something by accident is science, and that is a very telling comment on the world today.

          • You, sir, are wrong. What they good folks at the LHC are doing is smashing things together and observing the results. Get that? Observing, the root of all science. Was Newton not doing science when he observed that (apocryphal) apple falling from the tree and came up with gravity? Was Mendeleev not doing science when he observed how certain phenotype were passed from generation to generation and came up with genetics? Was Darwin not doing science when he observed the differentiation of different species in

        • by geekoid (135745)

          Don't bother. I just looked at adriankemps posts. he is either a very sly troll, or thinks his common knowledge of what something is is 100% accurate in all ways.

          Big ego with narcissistic tendencies. I could link specific places of authority to show him he is wrong, and he still think everyone else was wrong.

          Plus he spouts specific lies about certain subject he doesn't agree with. So ignore the moron.

          • You'll find that people smarter than you often seem narcissistic. The truth though is that you just don't have the capacity for debate and thus can't form coherent thoughts.

            Next time you're browsing post histories take a look at your own; if there is any hope for you at all you'll be horrified.

      • by lennier (44736)

        What CERN is doing is in fact not science, really. They're smashing shit together and looking at the results and going "woo! found something"

        Yeah, that's science.

        When they go "woo! found something and it ate us! Neat!", that's mad science.

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