One of the biggest puzzles physicists is when trying to understand how the universe is, how elementary particles are formed and how they interact with each other.
Now there's a lot of confusion over the fact that an elementary particle has more mass than researchers thought, but that it can also cause major changes in theory at the same time.
"It's not just that something is wrong," said Dave Toback, a particle physicist at Texas A&M University and spokesperson for the US government's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, who conducted the experiments. If repeated by other labs, it "literally means that something fundamental is wrong with our understanding of nature." made a statement.
Physicists in the lab have been putting particles together over the course of a decade and have measured the mass of bosons at 4 million W.
These subatomic particles are responsible for a fundamental force at the center of atoms and exist for only a fraction of a second before decaying into other particles.
"They're constantly gaining mass in the quantum foam of the universe and then decaying," Toback said.
A research paper was published in the journal Science by a team of 400 scientists from around the world.
According to the research, there has been a difference in the mass specified by the prevailing theory about the universe.
This difference is either a rounding error or too large to be easily explained. It is stated that this extraordinary difference should be confirmed by another experiment.
Scientists are working on a particle-related structure, which they refer to as the standard model for particles.
In this extraordinary difference, this model may contain threatening elements.
The researchers speculated that there might be an undiscovered particle interacting with the W boson that could explain the difference.
Perhaps dark matter, another poorly understood component of the universe, may be playing a role. Or maybe they think there is new physics that they don't understand right now.
The standard model says that a W boson should measure 80.357.000.000 electron volts, plus or minus six million.
"We found a little more than that," said Giorgio Chiarelli, research director of the Italian National Institute of Nuclear Physics, of the Fermi team. "It's not that much, but that's enough," he said. The Fermi team's scale placed the W boson at more than 80.433.000.000 electron volts, plus or minus nine.
It doesn't seem like a big difference, but in the subatomic world it is a huge difference.
But both the team and experts not involved in the study said such a big claim requires extra evidence from a second team they don't yet have.
"This incredibly accurate measurement requires an understanding of various calibrations of various small effects," said particle physicist Claudio Campagnari of the University of California Santa Barbara, who was not part of the Fermi team.
“But I think what we need at the end of the day is to confirm with another experiment.”
Less precise measurements of the W boson by other teams previously found it to be lighter than predicted, so "perhaps there's something strange about this experiment," said Caltech physicist Sean M. Carroll, who was not part of the research. He said it was "definitely worth taking very seriously."
The finding is significant because of its potential impact on the standard model of physics.
Standard Model in Particle Physics
“Nature has its facts,” Duke's Kotwal said. “The model is the way we understand these realities.”
Scientists have known for a long time that the standard model is not perfect. It doesn't explain dark matter or gravity well. The researchers said that if scientists need to step in and tinker with it to explain these findings, they need to make sure they don't blow up mathematical equations that explain and predict other particles and forces well.
It is a recurring problem with the model. A year ago a different team found another problem with the standard model and how muons respond.
“Quantum mechanics is really beautiful and weird,” Toback said. "No one who hasn't been deeply disturbed by quantum mechanics has understood it."