Experts find new force of nature

2011-04-07 09:22
Washington - Data from a major US atom smasher lab may have revealed a new elementary particle, or potentially a new force of nature, said one of the physicists involved in the discovery.

The physics world was abuzz with excitement over the findings, which could offer clues to the persistent riddle of mass and how objects obtain it - one of the most sought-after answers in all of physics.

But experts cautioned that more analysis was needed over the next several months to uncover the true nature of the discovery, which comes as part of an ongoing experiment with proton and antiproton collisions to understand the workings of the universe.

"There could be some new force beyond the force that we know," said Giovanni Punzi, a physicist with the international research team that is analysing the data from the US Department of Energy's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.

"If it is confirmed, it could point to a whole new world of interactions," he said.

Mystery

While much remains a mystery, researchers agree that this is not the "God Particle", or the Higgs-boson, a hypothetical elementary particle which has long eluded physicists who believe it could explain why objects have mass.

"The Higgs-boson is a piece that goes into the puzzle that we already have," said Punzi. "Whereas this is something that goes a little bit beyond that - a new interaction, a new force."

Punzi said the new observation behaves differently than the Higgs-boson, which would be decaying into heavy quarks, or particles.

The new discovery "is decaying in normal quarks", Punzi said. "It has different features," he added.

"One thing we know for sure - it is not the Higgs-boson. That is the only thing we know for sure."

Physicists were to discuss their findings further in a meeting to be webcast at 21:00 GMT.

For more than a year physicists have been studying what appears to be a "bump" in the data from the Illinois-based Fermi lab, which operates the powerful particle accelerator, or atom-smasher, Tevatron.

Evidence

The Tevatron was once the most powerful machine in the world for such purposes until 2008 when the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) became operational at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, which goes by the acronym Cern.

The US machine began its work in the mid 1980s, and is scheduled for shutdown later this year when its funding runs out.

"These results are certainly tantalising," said Nigel Lockyer, director of Canada's national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics, Triumf.

"It is too early to say for sure what the Fermilab team has observed," he added in an e-mail.

"On the one hand, there is clear evidence for something unexplained, and on the other, there is a long list of alternative explanations for what might be causing this subtle observation," he said.

"My personal judgment is that this excitement is adding fuel to the fire for the next generation of results and discoveries that will be made at the LHC (in Europe) and elsewhere. We are so close to learning something profound."

Lockyer, a former spokesperson for the Collider Detector at Fermilab (CDF), which made the announcement, said there is another major experiment going on at Tevatron, a sister project known as D-Zero, which could help confirm the data in the coming months.

"They are both multipurpose detectors. They both have the capability of seeing this," he said, predicting a rush of opinions by theoretical physicists in the coming days, and more data that could shed more light on the finding.

"It will become very much clearer in the next few months. You won't have to wait years."
Read more on:    science
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
20 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Joburg hot spots for cocktails, craft beer, tapas and wine!

It’s the season to be jolly – so we’ve rounded up some new Joburg hot spots!

 
 

I love summer.24

The craziest deaths of 2014
How to make this a sensual, sexy summer!
This is what South Africans Googled in 2014!
This hilarious song is your new holiday anthem

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2DAYS ONLY – 30% off Appliances

Coffee makers, blenders, fans, juicers and more. T&Cs apply. Shop now!

2 DAYS ONLY – 40% off books

Get 40% off when you buy 2 books. For two days only! T&Cs apply. Buy now!

Up to 50% off on outdoor gear

Save on chairs, blankets, cooler bags, umbrellas and more. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may be emotionally defensive or reserved today. You need to step up today as there may be extra responsibilities to deal with....read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.