Particle Decay Unexpectedly Exceeds Standard ModelCategory: Science & Technology
Posted: June 19, 2012 05:55PM
Physicists are not always creative when it comes to naming things, even important things. The current collection of theories that dominate particle physics is the Standard Model. From electrons to quarks and bosons to mesons, the Standard Model describes what should happen and how it should happen. Like other areas of physics though, particle physics is still growing so the Standard Model may be replaced some time, and research at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory may help lead to that.
The researchers at SLAC have noticed more of a specific kind of decay than what the Standard Model predicts. Importantly the probability this result is not just an error is not enough to demonstrate an actual beak from the model, but it is still an intriguing discovery. If the excess decays can be confirmed with the certainty needed to violate the model, the hunt will be on to discover what is causing the decay. Based on what we already know happens during the decay process the Higgs boson, which according to the Standard Model explains how particles have mass, cannot be involved.
As more researchers examine this data and attempt to replicate the results, more of a new kind of physics will be discovered. The Standard Model has served us well for some time now, but it may have to be replaced or overhauled soon, and it is the rules of this new physics which will compel the change.