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Friday, April 8, 2011

Possible New Particle Discovered at Doc V's old Stomping Ground

This link was found by Judah:

Well, Nature never sits still, and a possible new particle was found at the Collider Detector at Fermilab (CDF), my old experiment. A bump in the data suggests a new particle, one that, if real, no one yet has a clear understanding of what it is. It is almost certainly not the Higgs boson that has been searched for for decades. Some suggest it could be a new type of force-carrying particle, for some new interaction that occurs in nuclei. It is also a '3-sigma' event, where there is a fraction of a percent uncertainty that it could be a statistical fluctuation in the data. At 3 standard deviations from the mean, there is a 99.9% chance of being an actual discovery, and a 0.1% chance of being a random blip in the data...but that is still large enough to be skeptical when doing research at the professional level.

What is next? More data is needed to continue to reduce the size of the uncertainties (i.e. to reduce the error bars) to see if the bump either is enhanced, or if it smooths out, which would mean a likely random fluctuation. A second part of this is, ideally, to have a second, independent group check and see if they find the same bump at the same mass. Either D0 at Fermilab or the CERN experiments would be able to do this. We will hear more about this over the next months, but it is exciting nonetheless to see the scientific process in action!

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