CERN researchers said on Monday that they have spotted a particle reshaping into two others in their Large Hadron Collider, a breakthrough that could be crucial in exploring physics frontiers once the realm of science fiction.
The mutation — in a process known as decay — was predicted under the so-called Standard Model (SM) of physics which describes how the universe works at the most fundamental level, but until now scientists had never seen it.
The discovery, announced at a conference in Japan, will sharpen efforts to find evidence for super symmetry, dubbed SUSY, a theory explaining some cosmic mysteries, and for other New Physics ideas beyond the SM’s confines, CERN experts said.
The LHC, which went into operation at the research centre near Geneva in early 2010, had confirmed the model as its initial target, but its longer-term goal is to push beyond that into new realms envisaged by theorists.
The detailed implications of this latest result will take a while to work through, but one thing is easy to state: the Standard Model has survived another test, US physicist and CERN-watcher Matt Strassler said in a blog post.
A decay of the type recorded by CERN’s LHCb experiment, in which a Bs meson particle was transformed after a collision in the LHC into a muon and an anti-muon, was foreseen under the model, developed in the second half of the 20th century. Scientists had been trying to spot the decay — which in the arithmetically-intense world of particle physics had been correctly predicted to happen to one Bs meson in every 300 million — for well over a decade.