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NEW PARTICLE OR STATISTICAL FLUKE?

April 9, 2011 By Joseph P. Farrell

Scientists at FermiLab, as many of you may know by now, may have found a new sub-atomic particle, one that may have to do with explaining mass, and one that may signal a new force in physics:

Fermilab particle discovery could lead to a new physics

Note carefully what is being said in this article: if - and it's at this stage a mighty big if - this discovery turns out to be a genuine new particle - then it throws the standard model of quantum mechanics, the most successful scientific theory in history, into a cocked hat, for Fermilab's new particle has not been predicted by the theory, whereas other particles long sought by scientists in confirmation of the standard model, the Higgs boson or so-called "God particle," have not.

But it's still too early to tell if this Fermilab result is real, or merely a statistical anomaly, as the following article suggests:

New Subatomic Particle: Real or Anomaly?

It may seem an odd procedure to editorialize on a potential new scientific discovery, but on this one I cannot resist the temptation to do so, for while I love the standard model and its unparalleled march of success, I can't help but wanting something to come along and rock the boat a bit, to "throw a spanner into the works" as the British are wont to say, just for the sheer fun of watching the whole scientific process of reasoning at work, live, and not on Memorex, so to speak. The discovery of such a particle with such peculiar characteristics would, as the first article implied, resolve some riddles and open new ones.

What's my intuition on this one? My intuition is that it's real, and not just an anomaly, but time, and CERN's Large Hadron Collider, will tell.