Did the Muon experiment lead to the discovery of a new fundamental force of nature? Find out what scientists have to say
Recently, results from a US Muon g-2 experiment had the science world shook to its core. The Muon experiment involved sending particles around in a 14-meter ring. After then applying a magnetic field and expected by the current laws of physics and the standard model. The muons were expected to wobble at a certain rate. But the muons were observed to wobble at a faster rate than expected.
This got the scientists to believe that the muons could be under the influence of a hidden not yet discovered force of nature. Another theory that some theoretical physicists believe is that this might be due to association with an as-yet-undiscovered subatomic particle. One concept of this hypothetical particle is “The Leptoquark”; another is “Z-boson”. Now, this discovery might open up a whole new world of science both in a theoretical as well experimental sense. But before we delve into what all of this could mean let’s dive into “What a muon is?” And also, a bit about the standard model.
Muon and The Standard Model
The Muon is an elementary particle (i.e., a particle that won’t divide further) with a charge of -1e and a spin of ½ with a much greater mass. Discovered by Carl Anderson and Seth Neddermeyer in 1936 muon is an unstable subatomic particle with a mean lifetime of 2.2 microseconds. Which is much longer compared to other subatomic particles. Compared to other subatomic particle decays, muon decay is much slower because its decay is mediated only by weak force interaction (rather than Strong force or electromagnetic) and also because of the small difference between the muon and its decay products. A muon decays always produce an electron of the same charge as the muon and two types of neutrinos.
The following table below is the standard model of particle physics:
It contains a variety of Fundamental particles i.e., particles that cannot be broken down any further. As we can see these are mainly divided into 3 categories- Leptons, Quarks, and Gauge Bosons. Gauge Bosons are the fundamental forces that allow the leptons and quarks to interact and Quarks and leptons together are known as Fermions. There is a trend in the columns of these tables and that is mass is increasing as we go left to right and that’s because every column represents a generation of matter and as we can the mass increases This trend does not include the bosons.
What could all of this mean?
The consensus regarding this discovery is that this provides strong evidence for the existence of an undiscovered force of nature or a new subatomic particle; as mentioned by the UK’s Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC). Currently believed that there is a one in 40,000 chance that this is a statistical mistake; taking the level of statistical confidence to 4.1.
Now, this isn’t the first time that talk of a fifth fundamental force of nature has been mentioned. In 2015, a team of Scientists in Hungary claimed that they had found a particle that revealed the existence of the fifth fundamental force of nature and they had dubbed it “X17”. At first, this didn’t get that much attention but eventually, a group of prominent particle physicists working at The University of California corroborated this finding.
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All this talk of a new force of nature has some physicists excited at this potential discovery. Which could reveal about the universe that we already know so much about. But even in an enthusiastic community, many remain skeptical as findings like these seem to pop up every once in a while, and then are barely followed by any subsequent proof.
Currently speaking the scientist claim to have analyzed less than 6 percent of the data that the experiment will eventually have collected and although these initial results are telling; they’re still taking a patient approach regarding this potentially groundbreaking discovery and about to learn much more about the results in the next couples of years.
Article By : Akash Yadav
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