Surprise W boson measurement could rewrite particle physics

A tiny subatomic particle known as the W boson could also be heavier than scientists have beforehand thought and it could shake up physics’ grand theory of everything

Scientists on the U.S. Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory spent 10 years analyzing mass measurements of the W boson, a lesser-known “sister particle” of the Higgs Boson that performs a task in radioactive decay. They discovered the particle is considerably heavier than physics theories anticipated. And that, the scientists stated in a statement, is kind of a giant deal, as it’s at odds with the so-called Standard Model, a basic physics idea describing how the world on the microscale matches collectively. 

“It’s now up to the theoretical physics community and other experiments to follow up on this and shed light on this mystery,” David Toback, a physicist at Texas A&M University, who’s a member of the undertaking, stated in a press release. “If the difference between the experimental and expected value is due to some kind of new particle or subatomic interaction, which is one of the possibilities, there’s a good chance it’s something that could be discovered in future experiments.”

Related: 10 mind-boggling things you should know about quantum physics

Some critics warning that it could take additional experiments to confirm these outcomes as questioning the particle physics “bible” is a daring prospect. 

The scientists behind the latest measurements are, nevertheless, fairly assured of their outcomes. 

“The number of improvements and extra checking that went into our result is enormous,” Ashutosh V. Kotwal of Duke University, who led the work, stated within the assertion. “We took into account our improved understanding of our particle detector as well as advances in the theoretical and experimental understanding of the W boson’s interactions with other particles.”

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The scientists based mostly their calculations on measurements from Fermilab’s Tevatron collider performed between 1985 and 2011. They then spent the next decade analyzing the info. Overall 4.2 million observations of W boson candidate particles had been included within the evaluation, which is about 4 occasions the quantity used within the earlier estimates the workforce revealed in 2012.

The new estimate is correct to 0.01%, the scientists stated within the assertion.

The outcomes had been revealed in a paper (opens in new tab) within the journal Science on Thursday (April 7).

Follow Tereza Pultarova on Twitter @TerezaPultarova. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook. 

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