A new force of nature arises from the quantum world

Scientists at Cambridge University in the UK have found new evidence that a previously completely unknown force appears to exist in nature.

This discovery deepens an earlier one made by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) last March.

As explained at the time, CERN scientists had discovered unexpected behavior in a quantum particle known as the background quark, also known as the beauty quark, obtained at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the largest particle accelerator in the world.

According to the standard model, the beauty quarks should decay into equal amounts of electrons and muons (particles of the second generation of leptons) during the decay process.

What the LHCb experiment found, however, is that this process produces more electrons than muons: the muon decays only at 85% of the frequency at which the electron decays. There is only a one in a thousand chance that this result is the product of statistical chance.

For scientists, this means that a particle has not yet been discovered which they called Leptoquark, affects the decay process and encourages the production of these extra electrons which, if confirmed, would open a major rift in the Standard Model of Particle Physics.

Related topic: A hole discovered in the Standard ModelRelated topic: A hole discovered in the Standard Model

Turn the screw

Turn the screw Now new measurements by physicists at Cambridge University’s Cavendish Laboratory have found similar effects, suggesting that there is indeed a hidden force in nature, as in a. explained publication.

The Cambridge team examined two new beauty curd decays from the same family used in the March result.

The team discovered the same effect, but with one difference: muon decays only occurred at about 70% of the frequency at which the electron decays.

This means that there is a little more than 2% probability that the result is due to a statistical quirk in the data and not to some mysterious force.

New challenge for the standard model

New challenge for the standard model The Standard Model is the holy grail of particle physics, the branch of physics that studies the elementary components of matter and their interactions.

It’s so solid that it passed all of the experimental tests it was subjected to, but it doesn’t explain anything as important as the fourth fundamental force, gravity.

Nor can it explain how matter came into being after the Big Bang, nor can it describe the ubiquitous dark matter in the universe.

Because of this, physicists have long been looking for clues to a still-unknown physics that must exist beyond the Standard Model and that would explain some of these mysteries, particularly theoretical quantum gravity, which would eventually marry the other fundamental forces and general relativity.

One of the best ways to look for new particles and forces is to look at particles known as beauty quarks – they are exotic cousins ​​of the up and down quarks, which are the core of every atom the Cambridge researchers explain.

Although beauty quarks are not naturally abundant, the Large Hadron Collider produces billions of them each year, which are recorded by a specially designed detector called the LHCb.

Two consistent experiments

Two consistent experiments The way beauty quarks decay can be influenced by the existence of undiscovered forces or particles, and that certainly happens, as both experiments clearly show. Challenge to the standard model.

“The fact that we saw the same effect in March as our colleagues certainly increases the chance that we are really close to discovering something new,” says one of the researchers, Harry Cliff. He adds, “It’s great to shed some light on this mystery.”

While neither result is conclusive, both add further evidence that there are new fundamental forces in the universe waiting to be discovered.

“The excitement at the Large Hadron Collider rises just as the improved LHCb detector is turned on and more data is gathered to provide the statistics needed to confirm or disprove an important discovery,” commented Val Gibson of the Cavendish Laboratory the new results.


reference Tests of the lepton universality with B0 → K0Sℓ + ℓ− and B + → K ∗ + ℓ + ℓ− decays. LHCb collaboration. or arXiv: 2110.09501v2 [hep-ex]

Photo above: The massive young stellar supercluster Westerlund 2 of the Milky Way and the nebula that is a stellar nursery Gum 29. Photo credit: Zolt Levay. Flickr.

The LHCb particle detector. Photo credit: Maximilien Brice, CERN.

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