CERN Confirms Hints of Hypothetical Particle Have Disappeared

John Timmer, writing for Ars Technica: Toward the end of last year, the people behind the Large Hadron Collider announced that they might have found signs of a new particle. Their evidence came from an analysis of the first high-energy data obtained after the LHC’s two general-purpose detectors underwent an extensive upgrade. While the possible new particle didn’t produce a signal that reached statistical significance, it did show up in both detectors, raising the hope that the LHC was finally on to some new physics. This week, those hopes have officially been dashed. Physicists used a conference to release their analysis of the flood of data that came out of this year’s run. According to their data, the area of the apparent signal is filled by nothing but statistical noise. The search for new particles in data from the LHC starts with a calculation of the sorts of things we should expect to see at a given energy. The Standard Model, which describes particles and forces, can be used to make predictions of the frequency at which specific particles will pop out of collisions, as well as what those particles will decay into. So, for example, the Standard Model might indicate that two electrons should appear in five percent of the collisions that occur at a specific energy. Looking for new particles involves looking for deviations from those predictions.

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