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Evidence For New Physics Means Universe Is Not As We Know It

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Posted in Science on 4th Aug, 2013 02:08 AM by AlexMuller

Until now scientists have relied on the 'Standard Model', a description of the nuts and bolts mechanics of the universe - its particles and forces - that has worked well but contains serious gaps.

 

For instance, the Standard Model cannot explain phenomena such as dark matter, invisible material that shrouds galaxies and holds them together, or gravity.

 

The term 'new physics' was coined to describe more fundamental theories that go beyond the Standard Model, some of which involve strange concepts such as tiny vibrating "strings" and extra dimensions.

 

A Spanish and French team has now announced results that could be the first indication of a New Physics reality.

 

They involve data from the LHCb, one of the giant detectors that form part of the LHC on the French-Swiss border. Scientists were measuring the decay of a fundamental particle called the B meson. They revealed deviations from what was predicted by the Standard Model that show a coherent pattern, and are consistent with New Physics.

 

The findings amount to a significant 'proof' level of 4.5 sigmas - just under the level of five sigmas which is regarded as a bona fide discovery.

 

If confirmed by other teams, it amounts to a 'major event' pointing to a realm beyond the Standard Model, say the physicists.

 

Professor Joaquim Matias, from the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona in Spain, who led the research, said: "We must be prudent, because more studies and more experimental measurements will be needed for confirmation. But if they are confirmed this is the first direct proof of New Physics, a more general theory than the current Standard Model." Scientists are still excited about last year's discovery at the LHC of a type of Higgs boson, the particle thought to be responsible for mass that had been missing for five decades.

 

"If the Higgs completed the Standard Model puzzle, these findings could be the first piece in an even bigger puzzle," Prof Matias added.



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