Unlike the Others

An update on findings made by CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is coming next week at a conference (August 3, 2016), and it could revolutionize physics as we know it. But let’s back up for a moment.

Back in December 2015,  teams conducting experiments at the Large Hadron Collider outside Geneva, Switzerland detected (what seems to be) signals from a brand new kind of elementary particle. But a new theory with fundamentally different conclusions has just been put forward. Physical Review Letters has published a theory by physicist Kyoungchul Kong that proposes that, instead of a new particle related to 750 GeV. (what other theories suggest), a sequence of particles at different masses are responsible for the findings.

In other words, this discovery may actually be an even heavier particle that exists beyond the Standard Model.

Kong, associate professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Kansas, proposes a concept dependent on a “sequential cascade decay” of a heavier particle into photons that can “fake the resonance signal” at 750 giga-electron volts, or GeV, where the signal was detected.

“I was participating in a workshop in Korea, back in December 2015, when there was an announcement on this excess,” Kong said in a press release. “Everyone was considering a resonance particle, which would have been my first choice. I wanted to interpret this differently and talked to some friends in the workshop, and proposed non-resonance interpretation.”

However, KU Department of Physics and Astronomy chair Hume Feldman cautions against assuming the theory is automatically true just because it got published, saying in the same release that “physics discoveries often take years, decades (see under Higgs) or even centuries (see under gravitational waves) to be confirmed.”

Different Theories

As previously mentioned, his whole thing started with the detection of the possible new elementary particle. Specifically, the CMS and ATLAS detectors at the LHC saw an unexpected excess of pairs of photons, together carrying the 750 GeV.

For a more thorough (but still succinct) breakdown, take a look as the video below:

Most theories that aimed to explain the excess are aimed at a “resonance” particle— one with a straightforwardly corresponding mass to trigger the 750 GeV signal. This would have to be a single particle that decays into two photons of equivalent energy. If true, said particle would have to be six times more massive than the Higgs-Boson particle discovered in 2012.

News of the unexpected signal spawned many theories attempting to explained them. Kong’s paper, which suggests the heavier particle, was just one of them. So did we discover one particle, many particles…? If just one of those theories could be experimentally shown to be true, it would alter human understanding of the building blocks of the Universe.

And we will find out, or at least know a lot more, next week.

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