Science

The results of Fermilab’s first Muon g-2 experiment challenge well-known physics

The Fermilab National Accelerator Laboratory has published its first results from the Muon g-2 experiment, hinting at “as yet undiscovered particles or forces”. At the core of the potential is an assertion that particles denoted by muons do not behave as you would expect based on the Standard Model of particle physics. The laboratory notes that this anomaly “may hint at exciting new physics.”

Muon particles are described as much larger relatives of the electron. Fermilab indicates that it is able to produce a large number of these particles using its own particle accelerators – and the lab has demonstrated as part of its announcement that it is able to calculate the g-factor number of a muon with incredible accuracy.

Using the Standard Model of particle physics, scientists can predict the g factor, assuming there are no other particles or forces that it fails to take into account. This is where the main results come in, with Renee Fatemi’s Muon g-2 experience simulation manager explained:

This quantity that we measure reflects muon’s interactions with everything else in the universe. But when theorists calculate the same amount, using all the forces and particles known in the Standard Model, we don’t get the same answer. This is strong evidence that the muon is sensitive to something not in our best theories.

The results do not fully meet the criteria for scientists to announce a discovery, however, the odds that the results are due to statistical chance are about 1 in 40,000, according to Fermilab.

The results are the result of four years of work that began in 2018; More than 200 scientists from all over the world participated in the experiment. At this time, Fermilab says, experts are analyzing data for the second and third trials while the fourth run is underway.

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