Skip to main content

Alas, the Large Hadron Collider didn't find a new particle after all

Alas, the Large Hadron Collider didn't find a new particle after all

/

We won't be rewriting physics books just yet

Share this story

If you buy something from a Verge link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

CERN

At the end of last year, physicists working with the Large Hadron Collider thought they may have discovered a brand-new type of particle that could completely change our understanding of physics. But it looks like our understanding of physics won’t be drastically altered today. In new LHC measurements, the data that pointed to this new exotic particle have vanished, indicating that the initial measurements may have just been a fluke, New Scientist reports.

Our understanding of physics won’t be drastically altered today

The hubbub started in December when two scientific collaborations at CERN — ATLAS and CMS — both found similar statistical blips in their LHC data. The LHC is the world’s most powerful particle accelerator, where high-energy beams of protons and ions slam into each other at close to the speed of light. The goal is to study the debris created from these collisions to get a better understanding of the particles that make up our Universe.

Last year, both CMS and ATLAS saw some strange products from these particle collisions: a bunch of proton-pairs with a combined energy of 750 gigaelectronvolts (GeV). The data was tantalizing, as it pointed to the existence of a massive new particle. The idea was that LHC collision produced a particle weighing 750 GeV, which then decayed into two protons of the same energy, according to Nature. If that was the case, the particle would have been the largest particle discovered to date.

There were many reasons to be excited by the data

There were many reasons to be excited by the data. First, the results were found by two different scientific collaborations, which helped to strengthen the argument that these weren’t just statistical anomalies. Additionally, the findings appeared as bumps in the CMS and ATLAS data, and a similar data bump pointed to the existence of a 125 GeV particle back in 2012 — the famous Higgs boson. However, scientists had been expecting to find the Higgs boson because its existence had been predicted by the Standard Model, which describes all the different ways that particles can interact. This new 750 GeV particle didn’t quite fit into that model, which means its existence would have completely rewritten the rulebook.

But now, new data from the CMS collaboration no longer supports the 750 GeV particle. The bump that was seen before is completely gone from the new data. "So — it seems that what we saw in those December plots was a fluke," wrote Matt Strassler, a theoretical physicist and visiting professor at Harvard, in a blog post. "It happens. I’m certainly disappointed, but hardly surprised. Funny things happen with small amounts of data."

Today’s Storystream

Feed refreshed Two hours ago Not just you

E
Twitter
Emma RothTwo hours ago
Rihanna’s headlining the Super Bowl Halftime Show.

Apple Music’s set to sponsor the Halftime Show next February, and it’s starting out strong with a performance from Rihanna. I honestly can’t remember which company sponsored the Halftime Show before Pepsi, so it’ll be nice to see how Apple handles the show for Super Bowl LVII.


E
Twitter
Emma RothTwo hours ago
Starlink is growing.

The Elon Musk-owned satellite internet service, which covers all seven continents including Antarctica, has now made over 1 million user terminals. Musk has big plans for the service, which he hopes to expand to cruise ships, planes, and even school buses.

Musk recently said he’ll sidestep sanctions to activate the service in Iran, where the government put restrictions on communications due to mass protests. He followed through on his promise to bring Starlink to Ukraine at the start of Russia’s invasion, so we’ll have to wait and see if he manages to bring the service to Iran as well.


E
External Link
Emma Roth5:52 PM UTC
We might not get another Apple event this year.

While Apple was initially expected to hold an event to launch its rumored M2-equipped Macs and iPads in October, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman predicts Apple will announce its new devices in a series of press releases, website updates, and media briefings instead.

I know that it probably takes a lot of work to put these polished events together, but if Apple does pass on it this year, I will kind of miss vibing to the livestream’s music and seeing all the new products get presented.


E
External Link
Emma RothSep 24
California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoes the state’s “BitLicense” law.

The bill, called the Digital Financial Assets Law, would establish a regulatory framework for companies that transact with cryptocurrency in the state, similar to New York’s BitLicense system. In a statement, Newsom says it’s “premature to lock a licensing structure” and that implementing such a program is a “costly undertaking:”

A more flexible approach is needed to ensure regulatory oversight can keep up with rapidly evolving technology and use cases, and is tailored with the proper tools to address trends and mitigate consumer harm.


Welcome to the new Verge

Revolutionizing the media with blog posts

Nilay PatelSep 13
A
Youtube
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Look at this Thing.

At its Tudum event today, Netflix showed off a new clip from the Tim Burton series Wednesday, which focused on a very important character: the sentient hand known as Thing. The full series starts streaming on November 23rd.


A
The Verge
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Get ready for some Netflix news.

At 1PM ET today Netflix is streaming its second annual Tudum event, where you can expect to hear news about and see trailers from its biggest franchises, including The Witcher and Bridgerton. I’ll be covering the event live alongside my colleague Charles Pulliam-Moore, and you can also watch along at the link below. There will be lots of expected names during the stream, but I have my fingers crossed for a new season of Hemlock Grove.


T
Twitter
Tom WarrenSep 23
Has the Windows 11 2022 Update made your gaming PC stutter?

Nvidia GPU owners have been complaining of stuttering and poor frame rates with the latest Windows 11 update, but thankfully there’s a fix. Nvidia has identified an issue with its GeForce Experience overlay and the Windows 11 2022 Update (22H2). A fix is available in beta from Nvidia’s website.