The experiment in the Large Hadron Collider that can change the laws that govern the Universe

Physicists have discovered a potential flaw in a theory that explains how the basic components of the Universe behave.


The Standard Model (ME) is currently the best theory to explain how the world around us works.


But we've also known for some time that ME is just one stepping stone to a more complete understanding of the cosmos.


Now, an apparent inexplicable behavior of a subatomic particle called in English "beauty quark" or "bottom quark" (quark bottom, in Spanish) has exposed the cracks in the bases of this theory.


The findings arose from a collection of data by researchers working at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), located at the facilities of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN, for its acronym in French). , in Switzerland.


The LHC is a gigantic circular tunnel-shaped structure that is located underground on the border between Switzerland and France, through which proton particles travel, colliding with each other to probe the limits of physics as we know it.


The mysterious behavior of the "beauty quark" reported that scientists now could be the result of the intervention of a subatomic particle not discovered yet and that could be, according to experts, a "new force of nature".


But the physicists who provided the data also noted that they need more information to confirm the results.


"We were actually shaking when we first looked at the results, we were so excited. Our hearts started beating faster," Mitesh Patel, a researcher at Imperial College London, who works at the LHC, told the BBC.

" It is too early to say if this really is a deviation from the ME, but the possible implications are such that these results are the most exciting thing I have done in 20 years. It has been a long journey to get here."


In the way our world is built, there are foundation blocks that are even smaller than the atom.


Some of those subatomic particles are made of even smaller materials, while others cannot be broken up and turned into something else. The latter are known as elementary particles.


EM describes all the elementary particles that make up the Universe, in addition to the forces that interact in it.


But what it cannot explain are some of the great mysteries of modern physics, such as dark matter or the nature of gravity.


Physicists know that this model must be replaced by a more advanced one.


What is the process


The LHC was built to describe how physics works beyond the ME. So if the LHC results are confirmed, they would represent a very important discovery.


Now, the LHC produces these subatomic particles that scientists have called "beauty quarks", which are not usually found in nature but can be seen at the LHC.


These subatomic particles undergo a process known as disintegration, in which one particle is transformed into several, which in turn are less massive.


According to ME, these quarks should decay into an equivalent number of electrons and more or less particles .


But instead, the decay process inside this lab has left more electrons than muons.


A plausible explanation is that a particle not yet discovered (only described in theoretical physics) and known as a leptoquark would be involved in the process, which would explain why electrons were produced more easily.


One of the leading scientists in this project, Paula Álvarez Cartelle , from the University of Cambridge, pointed out that "this new result offers indications of the presence of a new particle or fundamental force that interacts differently with these particles."


"The more information we have, the more robust this result has become. This measurement is the most significant of a series of LHC results from the last decade that seem to coincide, and all would point towards a common explanation," added Álvarez Cartelle.


A simulation of the high-speed collisions that occur at the LHC.


The scientist points out that the results of the investigations have not changed, but that the uncertainties on the subject have been reduced, "increasing our ability to see possible differences with the Standard Model."


Tiny particles


In particle physics, the gold standard for a discovery is the level of five times the standard deviation, where there is a one in 3.5 million chance that the results are just a fluke.


The measure the LHC now has on this topic is three times the standard deviation, which means there is a one in 1,000 chance that the results are a statistical match.


Therefore, the researchers say, we must wait before drawing conclusions.


"We may be on the path to a new era of physics, but if we are, it is still relatively early on that path at this point. We have seen results of this importance come and go before, so we must be cautious as well as show us excited," Chris Parkes of the University of Manchester told the BBC.


But if confirmed with more analysis and data when the LHC restarts next year, we could be in for one of the biggest recent discoveries in physics, according to Konstantinos Petridis, a physicist at the University of Bristol.


"The discovery of a new force in nature is the holy grail of particle physics. Our current knowledge of the components of the Universe is remarkably limited: we do not know what 95% of the Universe is made of or why there is an imbalance between matter and antimatter," he noted.


The results have been presented for publication in the journal Nature Physics.

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