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'New particle' discovered by Cern scientists is just a statistical quirk

Published 05/08/2016

Work being carried out at the Large Hadron Collider at Cern
Work being carried out at the Large Hadron Collider at Cern

Eight months after raising hopes that they could have found an intriguing new particle that could not be explained by mainstream physics theory, disappointed scientists have been forced to backtrack.

It was just a statistical quirk, not a breakthrough, researchers have now reported.

"Basically we see nothing," said Tiziano Camporesi, a chief scientific spokesman at the European Centre for Nuclear Research (Cern).

Early unconfirmed readings of a new particle in December by physicists at the centre set the physics world abuzz. Scientists there had discovered the Higgs boson or "God particle" in 2012, and two new readings from the Large Hadron Collider made it seem like they may had found a revolutionary new particle.

In the months that followed, scientists studied more data from high-speed atom crashes while theorists tried to figure out what it all meant. But the new data ruled out any particle existing at the energy level they had been looking at.

Dave Charlton, another Cern spokesman, said the additional data showed that what they had seen earlier was just a random "statistical fluke".

California Institute of Technology physicist Sean Carroll said: "It's a shame there wasn't a particle there, but there aren't any big ideas that would rise or fall on it being there."

The Large Hadron Collider is operating beyond expectations in its second extended run- which is still going on - and is providing more data than expected, Mr Charlton and Mr Camporesi said.

Physicists from Cern have presented more than 50 new results, but none of them are breakthrough findings that would change current theory.

"Stay tuned, I don't think we have lost hope yet," Mr Camporesi said.


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