LHC Didn’t Break Physics, New Particle Vanishes Upon Further Review

By Nathaniel Scharping | August 5, 2016 10:24 am
splice

Engineers make precision measurements to some of the final splices on the LHC. Splices connect superconducting cables within the accelerator. (Credit: CERN)

What began as a bump has turned out to be nothing more than a statistical ghost.

Physicists at the International Conference on High Energy Physics in Chicago announced today that the much-discussed 750 GeV aberration in their data discovered by the Large Hadron Collider at the end of last year disappeared upon further testing.

“There is no excess seen in the 2016 data particularly around 750 GeV, confirms Bruno Lenzi, a physicist at CERN. All over the mass range the data is consistent with the background only hypothesis.”

Chances Are…

It was thought that the bump indicated the presence of a much larger particle new to physics, which could have held exciting implications for everything from the search for dark matter to quantum gravity.

In December, two separate experiments at the newly-renovated LHC announced a puzzling surplus of photon pairs with a combined mass of 750 GeV, more than six times the mass of the Higgs boson. It was thought that the excess could be explained by a new particle at that mass which decays into photon pairs. At the time, the researchers didn’t have enough evidence to say definitively whether a new particle existed or not, but the announcement nevertheless led to over 500 papers offering theories as to what the bump could be.

Further rounds of tests over the winter, spring and summer probed the mystery. With today’s announcement, however, it is clear that what could have been a groundbreaking discovery is no more than the product of chance.

(Credit: CERN)

These kinds of false trails occur in physics fairly often, where preliminary data shows something that vanishes upon further inspection. This latest illusion was more believable than most, not least because it was observed by two different experiments. The odds of it being chance were calculated to be between 1 in 10 and 1 in 20, depending on which experiment you looked at.

Standard Model Still Stands

Discovering a new particle could have revolutionized what physicists know about the Standard Model, a decades-old framework encompassing three of the four fundamental interactions and all of the currently known subatomic particles. So far, the Standard Model has resisted all attempts at refutation. The discovery of the Higgs boson in 2013 fleshed out a core component of the theory, creating an apparently solid basis for our understanding the universe.

And that’s a big problem for physics. The Standard Model might work theoretically, but it doesn’t match up with what we observe to be true in our world. It can’t explain the expansion of the universe and the skewed ratio between matter and antimatter, for example. An updated version of the model, called Supersymmetry, or SUSY for short, posits that each particle in our universe should have a heavier twin that interacts with our world only very faintly. This could explain why things like dark matter exist.

“There are things that point at it being incomplete and we don’t know how to fix it up,” says Chris Meyer, a post-doctoral researcher at CERN. “So the more evidence we have of things that don’t necessarily fall into it right now, the more theorists can work on to complete the standard model.”

Those aberrations didn’t appear. It was hoped that the latest upgrade to the LHC, which more than doubled its power and nearly reached its limits, would extend physicists’ view far enough that they could capture some of the theorized particles. Not doing so paints a grim picture for the future of physics: having stretched our capabilities so far in search of new particles, is it worth going any further? The LHC is expensive, and public support for high-risk projects is tenuous at best.

One Step Forward Two Steps Back

Physics is a discipline defined by setbacks, and random bumps in the data are hardly unheard of. Even the search for the Higgs boson faltered at points. The question now is where to turn.

“We measure the things very well that we know are there, especially the Higgs boson which is very recent, and if there is nothing else they find that is new, we need to start exploring other types of experiments,” says Meyer.

Matthew Buckley, a theoretical physicist at Rutgers University agrees.

“They’re reaching the point where they can really start excluding or finding particles up at much higher masses than they ever could before. I don’t think they’re going to have results out on every possible thing we could be interested in,” he says.

It marks a turning point for physics. While exciting new results may still emerge from the LHC, this latest disappointment makes it more unlikely. Nevertheless, the LHC will still play an important role in years to come as researchers attempt to pin down the properties of the Higgs boson and gain more insight into how subatomic particles behave.

Researchers at the LHC are still combing through data from both the first run, which ended in 2013, as well as the second run, which is currently ongoing. Some of the interactions they hope to observe happen almost vanishingly rarely, meaning that the potential for new discoveries from the LHC is far from exhausted

“It should be said that everybody would be happy if were to find something new immediately,” says Tiziano Camporesi, spokesperson for the CMS experiment at the LHC. “That would mean that nature is being kind to us, but nature can be more subtle than that.”

In addition, there are experiments around the world searching other aspects of fundamental physics, such as the Ice Cube Neutrino Observatory at the South Pole, the LIGO detectors which this year found evidence for gravitational waves and the Gran Sasso lab in Italy which is searching for dark matter directly.

“What we’re doing is very difficult and the universe never promised us that new physics would be easy to find,” says Buckley.

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  • OWilson

    If you spend enough money, and get a powerful enough particle accelerator, you can always “find” (create) a new particle.

    Einstein knew this, a hundred years ago, E=Mc2.

    But the public enthusiasm for these fabled scientific searches for the Holy Grail, the God Particle, the secret to Life on Earth (from Mars), the search for Dark Matter may wane in light of the increased budgets, and lack of anything useful to come out of these extremely expensive endeavors.

    The greatest science comes from individual minds, not from sweeping government budgets.

    The sudden burst of 500 scientific papers explaining what was just a measurement error, tells you a lot about the present state of science.

    We still need the Russians to give us a ride to the Space Station :)

    • amorpheous

      Pompous blather by an amateur with no clue about basic research and it’s value.

      • OWilson

        You have your Bill Nye and Lady Gaga.

        I’ll stick with Einstein and Mozart :)

    • http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/qz4.htm Uncle Al

      Searching for a dropped $100 bill under a bright streetlight is not as productive as searching in the dark middle of the block with weak light from a cell phone screen – where you dropped the money. Management is rewarded for enforcing process. Success requires not looking harder, but instead looking elsewhere.

      • OWilson

        There are easier ways to find mushrooms, than looking for gold :)

        • http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/qz4.htm Uncle Al

          Science makes stuff, engineering makes things, Sales & Marketing make money by selling things. Science is not a corporate asset.

          Colorado oil shale was a 1960s – 1970s multi-$billion DOE boondoggle. It isn’t shale, it does not contain oil. I isolated and characterized the intrinsic organic, kerogen, by etching 50 pounds of rock (calcareous marlstone) from that organic phase at Occidental Research. They so utterly pissed me off by demanding I isolate the organic from the rock rather than the rock from the organic…that I forgot to tell them about the tiny pinch of gold dust residue.

          Look around when you harvest mushrooms.

          • Isak Andrè Wøien

            Sadly the corporates don´t see it that way…

  • http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/qz4.htm Uncle Al

    Big Bang excess of matter over antimatter requires trace chiral anisotropic vacuum (Sakharov conditions). Physics postulates beautiful achiral isotropic vacuum, then curve fits baryogenesis, parity violations, symmetry breakings, chiral anomalies, Chern-Simons repair of Einstein-Hilbert action, Tully-Fisher. Falsify beautiful theory. LOOK.

    Opposite shoes fit into a vacuum left foot with different energies, pursuing non-identical minimum action free fall trajectories. P3(1)21 alpha-quartz is mirror image chiral to P3(2)21 alpha-quartz. The unit cell (shoe) is 0.113 nm^3 volume. 40 grams total as four versus four single crystal test masses compare 6.68×10^22 pairs of opposite shoes. LOOK in existing apparatus, arXiv pdf, Page 7.

    Classical and Quantum Gravity 29(18) 184002 (2012); arXiv:1207.2442, doi:10.1088/0264-9381/29/18/184002

    • Trickster Wolf

      I’m not sure of the point you’re trying to make. It sounds like you’re trying to suggest a torsion-balance experiment similar to the one in the article, but you’re using language in a poetic way that masks what you’re trying to say.

      The article is interesting, but will go over the heads of most of the readers of Discover.

      • http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/qz4.htm Uncle Al

        Physics has compared every imaginable measurable property divergence and observed no EP violation to one part in 20 trillion sensitivity – classical, quantum mechanical, relativistic, and gravitational (strong EP) divergences. General Relativity is a geometry. Test spacetime geometry with geometry. Green’s function removes geometric chirality from physics. Green’s function has never bee validated within general relativity.

        By observation, the universe is trace left-handed not exactly mirror-symmetric. You cannot detect a left hand or a left foot except by challenging it with a pair of gloves or a pair of shoes. A given pair will not fit with equal energies. Chirality has an emergence scale below which it vanishes – use a very small pair of shoes, and lots of them. 3D requires at least four non-coplanar, non-colinear points. The alpha-quartz glove/shoe is its crystallographic unit cell, containing nine atoms within 0.113 nm^3. A single crystal is a self-similar 3D tessellation of 3-space. Those are the test masses to be contrasted.

        The poetry arrives after it works, physics being slightly rewritten to describe messy reality rather than beautiful abstract mathematics. All the anomalies will disappear.

        • Trickster Wolf

          I like the idea you’re proposing, but I’m afraid it’s too far outside of my area of expertise to comment further. Something you wrote makes me skeptical, however:

          “Chirality has an emergence scale below which it vanishes.”

          I don’t think that’s true. Spin is is a quantity of intrinsic angular momentum, and it is a characteristic of point-like particles. You can’t get to a smaller scale than that. It’s the CP-symmetry breaking of the weak interaction that demonstrates our universe has a handedness, all the way down to the smallest components.

          • http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/qz4.htm Uncle Al

            Spin is helicity, Observe from the other pole and it reverses. A relativistic beta-ray (more than 0.5 MeV) is chiral (you can’t get to the other side). Lab frame electrons have no chirality. Geometric chirality is both absolute and quantifiable, J. Math. Phys. 40(9), 4587 (1999), doi:10.1063/1.532988, J. Math. Phys. 43(8) 4147 (2002), doi:10.1063/1.1484559 The 11 pairs of enantiomorphic space groups calculate as perfectly geometrically chiral,
            Acta Cryst. A 59(3), 210 (2003), Section 3ff. doi:10.1107/S0108767303004161.

            Eliminate any such space group that contains opposite or racemic [2(1), 4(2), 6(3)] screw axes. This leaves P3(1)21/P3(2)21 (e.g., alpha-quartz) and P3(1)/P3(2) )e.g., gamma-glycine). Since rotor loading is limited by weight (the suspensory filament snaps) one desires the smallest volume, lowest mass, most densely atom-packed unit cell.

          • Trickster Wolf

            No, that isn’t correct.

            First off, spin is chirality, not helicity. The helicity of a particle is relative because it depends upon whether the particle is moving in the same direction as its spin for a given inertial reference frame. For example, you can accelerate and overtake an electron and its chirality will reverse.

            Secondly, half-integer spin does not reverse if you observe it from the other pole. You can’t reverse a permanent magnet’s North and South ends by simply flipping it upside down. It’s an intrinsic property of the particle independent of relative orientation.

          • http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/qz4.htm Uncle Al

            “spin is chirality, not helicity” Look at the Earth down the North Pole – counterclockwise spin. Look at the Earth down the South Pole – clockwise spin. Which way does the Earth spin? Spin it does – Foucault pendulum.

            “Secondly, half-integer spin does not reverse if you observe it from the other pole.” An electron beam can only be polarized in one direction? A pseudovector (axial vector) transforms like a vector under a proper rotation, but in three dimensions gains an additional sign flip under an improper rotation such as a reflection. A chiral object does not possess an improper rotation symmetry. An improper rotation transforms a chiral object into its enantiomer.

    • Craig Jackson

      I was going to say that but you beat me to it , lol …

  • Mike P

    As I have been saying, protons are not made from smaller articles. There is no such thing as ant-matter, dark matter, and dark energy. They are observing these things indirectly with magnetic fields. The standard model does not work. There was no big bang, and the universe is currently not expanding.

    • http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/qz4.htm Uncle Al

      anti-matter” Positron decay, positron emission tomography, pair formation, singlet and triplet positronium decays; CERN Proton-Antiproton (pp) Collider
      Mass is not made from energy” Binding energy re nuclear mass vs. summation of constituent particles’ masses; 10.4 megaton Ivy Mike, 50 megaton Tsar Bomba.
      substance known as energy does not exist” Niagra Falls hydropower generation. Barringer Crater. Solar cells, microwave ovens, radio reception. Leyden jars.
      There was no big bang” WMAP: 13.75 Gyr; 72% dark energy, 23% dark matter, 4.6% baryonic matter; astoundingly good blackbody radiation curve fit and power spectrum multipole moment fit re acoustic peaks and the cosmological parameters.
      universe is currently not expanding” redshift; Lyman Alpha forest; Hubble constant, 67.6 (km/s)/Mpc

      Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 77(6) 1121 (1999) (2000 Ig Nobel Prize)

      • Mike P

        “50 megaton Tsar Bomba.”
        your confusing potential energy of the nuclear strong force with the incorrect idea that this energy is what the protons are made from. People confuse the concept of energy with an object’s ability to do work.

        ” There was no big bang”
        The events and chronological order of which they occur as stated by the big bang theory are impossible, as things such as heat, temperature, light, and gravity have been proven to occur as a function of atomic particles ie protons and electrons, which the big bang theory describes as not existing until a long time after the big bang is claimed to have happened.

        “universe is currently not expanding” redshift; Lyman Alpha forest; Hubble constant, 67.6 (km/s)/Mpc

        The redshift theory as a measurement of distance has been proven incorrect. They have since discovered quasars with a redshift that says they are closer to us than the galaxies they are hiding behind. Anyone with a sense of depth perception and scale will tell you that if the distances determined by the redshift were true, the the diameters of the stars that we see should be hundreds of light years across. The stars are very close to us.
        The references you gave are given by people who don’t know what they are writing about, unproven theory.

        • OWilson

          The Big Bang cannot be true without the “Inflationery Event”. (It suddenly speeds up and just as suddenly reverts back again. How and why? Don’t ask!))

          Which it’s proponent Alan Guth, say’s “Needs a lot of work”.

          The problem is with academia. They need certainty in the things they teach otherwise students would not show up.

          Likewise the textbook industry requires more than “What if?”

          And politicians need something to tell their constituents about the National Debt:)

          “Your guess is as good as mine” is not enough for the prying taxpayer :)

          • david schwartz

            It makes sense if our Universe is inside a black hole.

          • http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/qz4.htm Uncle Al

            Given: LIGO-observed 0.2 second to merger and equilibrium of paired 30 and 36 solar masses black holes BHs). External view is wholly predicted by general relativity. No infinite redshfit, no firewall, no binding energy emission anomalies re singularities’ merger and coupled angular momentum evolution, a resultant violently spinning Kerr BH; no quantum anything.

            A BH must be a 2D event horizon only (2D with curvature re the surface of the Earth). BH volume and its central singularity cannot be modeled because there is no volume or singularity. Recalculate for our universe being a 2D BH event horizon. “8^>)

        • http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/qz4.htm Uncle Al

          Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 77(6) 1121 (1999)

    • martykayzee

      As I have been saying, it’s all made of green cheese.

      • OWilson

        Anti matter is a Seinfeld Bizzaro World theory, to explain what happens when the main theories don’t work!

        • martykayzee

          Theories are not designed to work. They are designed to not work. It is always a surprise when experiments and observations fail to falsify a theory and instead support it. If you want to get famous, show us that Einstein is wrong.

    • Trickster Wolf

      “As I have been saying, protons are not made from smaller articles.”

      Gee, why won’t physicists pay attention to you? Maybe it’s because you haven’t studied physics and published any research through the peer review system.

      • Mike P

        I believe I have studied physics. The people who are performing these experiments do not understand how to apply what they have been taught about physics very well. What good is a peer review?

        • http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/qz4.htm Uncle Al

          “Name ANYTHING in nature made from smaller parts that are identical.” Single crystals of cryolite, Na_3Al F_6, space group P2(1)/n, a = 5.4024 Å b = 5.5959 Å c = 7.7564 Å β = 90.278° Z = 2. Monoisotopic elements, git. Hadrons of the same type.

          IF7 gas phase, for being monoisotopic and Bartell fluxional.

  • rwoodin

    I wonder if, on a scale of 0 to 100, with 0 being no understanding of how the universe works and 100 being a complete understanding of how the universe works, where it is on that scale that we are.

    • damien6669

      likely about a 2

      • rwoodin

        That’s about what I was thinking.

      • http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/qz4.htm Uncle Al

        Lots of knowledge, little understanding. Classical physics and quantum mechanics are perfectly predictive, yet both must be approximations: They are utterly incompatible. Somewhere along the line physics has made a subtle, terrible error – and won’t look for it.

  • Craig Jackson

    Being that we live in a hologram and not in a physical world where all matter could be contained in a vessel the size of a mustard seed . We need to start looking how to hack into it using frequencies .

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