The International team used the Muon g-2 ring at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory to measure muon’s wobble as they move through an intense magnetic field. It operates at -450°F. (Image Credit: Fermilab)
Mark Hamill tweeted that scientists may have uncovered the key to the force. Over 200 experimenters at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory took a new measurement of the muon that defies the laws of physics. The Muon g-2 experiment observes muons to determine how magnetic they are while wobbling in an intense magnetic field. They discovered that muons are slightly more magnetic than the Standard Model theory, which could lead to new particle discovery. The muon value deviates from theory by a small number (0.00000000251). That alone could be enough to shift the direction of particle physics.
The measurement verifies the decades-old result that relied on the Standard Model to explain high-energy particle experiments in CERN’s Large Hadron Collider. However, the model suggests that some of the universe’s secrets could be unlocked. For example, it could help researchers find more answers surrounding dark matter.
The muon’s wobbliness surpasses last year’s theoretical prediction that was calculated by a group of over 170 physicists known as the Muon g-2 Theory Initiative. Fermilab’s researchers predict the difference increased to 4.2 sigma, which is closer to 5 sigma required by physicists to claim a discovery.
These results are a representation of six percent of the total data that could accumulate in the future. If physicists could look further and deeper, new physics could be discovered. Even better, additional data from the Fermilab could be used by scientists to develop next-gen expensive particle accelerators.
Image showing the Muon g-2 particle storage ring at the MC-1 building. (Image Credit: Fermilab)
Muons, also known as “fat electrons,” are nearly similar to electrons. Both have a negative electric charge and quantum properties, such as spin. One difference is that the unstable muons are 207 times heavier, causing them to have a short lifespan and radioactively decay into electrons and lighter particles called neutrinos in 2.2 milliseconds. First discovered in 1936, these particles play a mysterious role in the cosmos’ pattern.
To experiment, physicists had the 50-foot magnet racetrack shipped from Brookhaven in 2013. It wasn’t until 2018 that the experiment went underway with an intense muon beam. The goal was to compile 20 times as much data as the one in Brookhaven.
However, another group used a lattice calculation to compute the muon’s magnetic moment. They discovered their results are different from the ones provided by the Fermilab team. This made the proceedings unclear. It still needs to be checked against independent work from other groups even though it’s an amazing calculation.
The team also participated in a blinding practice, commonly used in big experiments, to avoid bias and prevent tampering. In this scenario, the master clock keeping track of the muons’ wobble was set to an unknown rate. The envelope-sealed number was stored in Fermilab and the University of Washington in Seattle offices.
During a February 25th ceremony that was recorded and shown to the world on Zoom, Dr. Polly opened the Fermilab envelope while David Hertzog opened the Seattle envelope. Afterward, that figure was entered into a spreadsheet, unlocking a blueprint to the data.
The anomaly has already given physicists ideas on how they can discover new particles. Some include lightweight particles that can be held within the Large Hadron Collider or its projected successor. Some extremely rare ones were recorded but have not been unveiled from the data collected by the instrument. According to Gordan Krnjaic, a cosmologist at Fermilab, the Z-prime could help solve some Big Bang mysteries.
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