Bad Astronomy | The Muon experiment demonstrated new physics

The muon does not rotate as predicted by the best physical models. Why not? This could be due to completely unknown subatomic particles popping in and out of the quantum foam’s existence.

This is not some kind of science fiction technology. This is from the results of a real experimentAnd the universe may tell us that we don’t understand everything about it yet.

A very interesting and potentially game-changing result this originates FermilabHigh Energy Particle Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois. They run all kinds of experiments there, And one is called Muon g-2 (Literally, “g minus 2”), which examines a subatomic particle called a Myon.

Muons are like electrons They have a negative charge, for example, and the same spin (a basic property of a particle, which will become important in a moment), even though they are 200 times larger.

Using everything we know about subatomic particles (called Standard form), Physicists are very good at predicting muon behavior. For example, a spinning charged particle has a related magnetic property called A. MomentIt is a measure of the strength and direction of the magnetic field. If you put a muon into a magnetic field, it will go through an oscillation called an introduction; This is physically similar to shaking the top of the game while spinning on the table.

The model predicts this initiative very accurately. Maximally. Physicists assign value to this call Factor g, Which is very close to 2 but not quite the same as that.

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The Muon g-2 experimental video finds solid evidence of new physics

This is where things get entertained: On our macroscopic scale, we like to think that space is seamless and sustainable. But on a quantitative scale, a very small scale (like 10-35 Meters!) Quantum mechanics implies that space Not Continuous and seamless, and may come in separate units, such as tick marks on charts. That is, at this scale, the space may not be empty, but rather boil and bubbly with energy.

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Sometimes this energy automatically creates a pair of subatomic particles (since mass and energy are two sides of the same coin, E is the same as mc2 And all of that). These particles can appear, but the same laws of quantum reality require that the particles interact instantly and become energized again, returning to the energy of empty space. It’s called (and I like this) That Foam sleeve.

The rotation of muons in a magnetic field is affected by quantum foam. If there were no foam, the value of the factor g would be very close to 2. But the particles emerging and coming out affected the muon oscillations. This is called An unnatural magnetic moment, Deviation from the usual value.

The Standard Model predicts the value of this anomalous moment by looking at all that is known about forces and particles. You have to be very accurate. However, it’s always good to be sure, and that’s what the Muon g-2 experiment did. This injects muons into a very stable magnetic field Measurement Volatility, which can then be compared with predictions. If they agree, then we understand how the quantum mechanical universe behaves.

If not… fine. That would be fun, right?

The Standard Model predicts the magnetic moment of the muon anomaly 0,00116591810 (± 0.0000000000043; as I said, very accurate).

New experience Get value 0,00116592061 (± 0,0000000000041).

This is different. The difference is small, of course only 0.0002%. But even so, they must be equal. And they are not.

This small difference matters a lot. It means that There are forces and / or particles operating on a quantum scale that we don’t know about!

Yes, maybe. Here’s the monkey on the wrench: The result is not so far Even the statistics snuff out. This is very likely due to random coincidence. It’s like flipping a coin: If you pop three times in a row, you might think the coin is faked, but there’s a 1 in eight chance it will randomly happen. The more you flip it over and face to face, the less likely it is to be random.

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Scientists use a term called Sigma To measure this opportunity. The gold standard in particle physics experiments is when the experiment is within the five sigma range, which means that the experiment has a random probability of about one in three million occurring, or, if you prefer, a 99.999997% chance of being real (One sigma is around 68%, two 95%, three 97%, and so on, Creeping closer to 100%). The result of the Muon g-factor experiment is only 4.2 sigma, which means that it still has a 1 in 38,000 chance due to random interference.

However, there is a 99.997% chance that this is not due to random odds, which is very good*. It is not enough for a physicist to declare victory. The good news is it’s not over yet. The experiment has been carried out three times so far, a fourth is ongoing, and a fifth testing is being planned. Scientists have sorted data from that first process, but that’s only about 6% of the total amount of data they expect from the experiment. To use the measurement above, it looks like they flipped the coin a few times and got weird results, but they would still flip it a few times to be sure.

If the rest of the data match what they have seen so far, they will pass five sigma certainty. And if that happens, it must mean the universe is stranger and more mysterious than quantum mechanics as we know it … and this Previous He told us that the universe is strange.

If you want all of this in comic form, Then Georges Cham helps you:

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So this might be really exciting. The Standard Model was very successful (for example, it predicted the existence of the Higgs boson, that is This was first discovered several years agoBut we know there are gaps in it, things you don’t predict either. In this case, muons float, spin, and oscillate in magnetic fields, leading us to more physics we don’t yet understand, or even know about.

This is the dream of every particle physicist. When an experiment proves a good theory, it’s like showing that the road behind us is smooth paved.

But what awaits us in the future?


[Correction (16:00 UTC on April 8, 2021): I originally calculated the percentages incorrectly on those chances, adding an extra two 9s in the decimal point (in other words I had written them as straight odds, not percentages, like a 0.01 chance is 1%). Arg! The numbers are now fixed. Also, I changed the phrasing a bit; the statistics only cover random chance. There could also be systematic errors, that is, something not accounted for in the equipment, or the math, or whatever. Those aren’t random, and are difficult to account for. I just want to make sure I’m covering the bases here.]

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