Saturday, April 22, 2023

I Hate It When That Happens

 At ScienceAlert, Shock Boson Result Upending Physics Was a Miscalculation, Scientists Say

Last year a new finding in particle physics stunned scientists: a fundamental particle responsible for one of the Universe's four fundamental forces was heavier than predicted.

The discovery of a discrepancy between the W boson's theorized and experimental masses promised new insights beyond the Standard Model, the theoretical blueprint that describes how matter behaves.

Now scientists have run the same numbers again using an updated technique, this time discovering the particle's mass is a close fit with the Standard Model's predictions after all.

While this means we may not need a revolutionary rethink of our current theory of particle physics, we can't but help be a little disappointed. The Standard Model of particle physics remains a hypothetical interpretation of the Universe around us, but so far it has held up well to the battery of tests that we've managed to put it through. At the same time we know there are unexplained gaps: the Standard Model doesn't account for dark matter, for example, or even gravity.
. . .
"While the understanding of the detector as well as the effects of contributions from electroweak and top quark background processes have not changed, significant progress has been made in the statistical framework on the extraction of the W boson mass from the data," write the researchers.
. . .
"Due to an undetected neutrino in the particle's decay, the W mass measurement is among the most challenging precision measurements performed at hadron colliders," says particle physicist Andreas Hoecker from the ATLAS team at the CERN lab.
Well, I'm glad that's settled. I can sleep easily tonight. Oh, wait . . . 
It's worth bearing in mind that this is only a preliminary finding right now. Further tests are now underway on more recent data. If it turns out that the Standard Model has got the W boson mass wrong, that would hint at some as-yet-undiscovered particles and forces at play. For now though, it seems the reputation of this fundamental hypothesis is safe.

Darn it; back to insomnia it is. 

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