TheThe demo is clearly more complex than this summary suggests. At Fermilab – a particle physics laboratory located in Illinois – it was necessary to charge 8 billion muons in a 14-meter-long ring and subject it to a magnetic field. The rate at which the muons should oscillate next was known, but turned out to be faster. 0.0002% difference which is enough to tell physicists that there is something else at work here.
Physicists have followed this progress since 2001, when a similar experiment also concluded with the muons wiggling slightly faster than expected – but the results were then deemed “statistically insignificant”. The Fermilab trial started in 2018, and what has just been introduced, which corresponds to the first year of operations, tends to confirm the results of 2001.
The central idea behind this back and forth is the Standard Model of Physics: A model that specifies that four forces govern our universe, namely gravity, electromagnetism, and the weak and strong nuclear forces (or interactions). The theory holds up, but does not explain everything, hence speculation – decades ago – about the existence of the “fifth force,” or strange particles with properties that are still unknown.
The “anomaly” now computed in Fermilab, and described in a study published on April 7, may arise from a “quantum phenomenon called virtual particles”, sums up new world. These are pairs made of a particle and its antimatter twin, which appear and disappear randomly through quantum fluctuations: during their short appearance, they will influence the behavior of muons. But it is the easiest explanation and in fact, with the available data, “there is no single explanation that stands out as more elegant or more satisfying,” he sums up. nature.
So this is all very theoretical. How do you prove that? There, accounts stop and speculation begins. What this research is heading towards – and there are two steps left in the five muon experiments underway at Fermilab – is the discovery of indirect evidence for the existence of other types of particles, possibly governed by one or more different forces. But when it comes to obtaining direct evidence of these particles’ existence, the bets remain open.