It was five years ago now that the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN announced the discovery of the Higgs Particle, filling in the last hole of what physicists call ‘The Standard Model’. For the next three years the LHC underwent an upgrade to increase it’s maximum energy to 13Tev, that 13 trillion electron volts. The upgrade was finished in 2015 and the LHC began another run of data collection on 3Jun2015.
Now the goal of this run is to look for new particles and new interactions beyond the standard model, something that will confirm or exclude the many different ‘Theories of Everything’ the mathematical types have come up with over the last 30-40 years. Supersymmetry, Dark Matter and String Theory are just the more well known models waiting and hoping for some sort of experimental conformation.
This past week a seminar was held at CERN giving preliminary results of the data collected by one of the LHC’s four detectors, the LHC-beauty or LHCb. The different detectors at the LHC each examine the products of the particle collisions by different techniques and the LHCb detector examines the number and behavior of particles called beauty quarks. (I was taught to call them bottom quarks but that was years ago, before their existence was even confirmed)
The researchers working with the LHCb have found a bump in their data that cannot be accounted for by any known particle, possible evidence of new physics. The researchers state that their results could be evidence of strange particles like LeptoQuarks, particles that share properties with both electrons and quarks.
As I said the results are preliminary, the researchers are currently estimating a 2.5 sigma confidence level, well below the 5 sigma level needed to announce a discovery. But more data is pouring in and the results of the LHC’s three other detectors could add further evidence. For now we’ll just have to wait and see. If you’d like to read more about the possible discovery at the LHC click on the link below.
Before I go I want to just mention that today, 22Apl17, the Cassini Spacecraft will make its final close flyby of the moon Titan before going into an orbit that will take it between Saturn and its rings. Only another 22 orbits of Saturn are planned before Cassini plunges into the Planet’s atmosphere to burn up. While it’s sad to lose the spacecraft after 13 years of discoveries the close ups of Saturn should give us a very exciting ride.
I have to do a quick update. Not five minutes after I posted this story I found a newly released picture by Cassini of the Earth as seen through Saturn’s Rings! Here it is, enjoy!