|Fermilab's Tevatron, the most powerful particle accelerator in the US|
After running experiments on a particle accelerometer, scientists noticed a bump in the data. It was so unusual, in fact, that scientists think it could mean they’ve discovered a new particle.
“Nobody knows what this is,” Christopher Hill of Fermilab told The New York Times’ Dennis Overbye. “If it is real, it would be the most significant discovery in physics in half a century.”
Fermilab’s Tevatron Collider Detector (CDF) was designed to study..
high energy particle collisions to identify particles and how they interact.
The CDF beams protons and antimatter particle around a ring through a vacuum pipe using 1,000 superconducting magnets. The particles accelerate at a speed that is nearly the speed of light. When the particles collide inside the two four-story detectors, showers of new particles are created. The collisions recreate the conditions of the early universe. By looking at how the particles behave after the collisions, scientists can tell if they’ve discovered something new by measuring properties such as the electric charge and momentum of the particles.
If it is indeed a new particle, it would challenge the Standard Model, the current theory of particle physics and their forces. Currently, the model provides the framework for low energy processes such as chemistry and nuclear physics - as well as high energy processes such as sub-nuclear physics and cosmology. So if this bump turns out to represent a new particle - it could re-frame physics.