Large Hadron Collider reboot – the hunt for a fifth force of nature

Large Hadron Collider reboot – the hunt for a fifth force of nature

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) restarted today after a three year program of upgrades.

The new run of high energy experiments are set to scrutinise findings from the last few years which might hint at another blockbuster discovery.

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The team at the CERNs Large Hadron Collider (LHC) want to resolve an odd anomaly which point to the existence of a fifth fundamental force of nature.

The find was reported last year when the scientists revealed ‘cautious excitement’ over unstable particles that fail to decay as standard model suggests.

This has reignited the hope that the 20 mile-long collider might deliver a second big discovery after proving the existence of the Higgs boson particle.

Up to now all the evidence produced by the LHC – including the existence of the Higgs boson particle – has just fallen in line with the existing standard model.

However, particle physicists have known that the model is incomplete since the 1970s as it fails to explain dark matter or energy.

Data from the LHCb experiment at CERN though has shown particles behaving in an explained way. The Large Hadron Collider beauty (LHCb) is one of eight other particle physics detector experiments collecting data at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.

The data focused on the decay of particles called beauty quarks. These are meant to decay equally into electrons and muons – muons are an elementary particle similar to the electron but with a much greater mass.

However, the team showed that beauty quarks only turned into muons 15% less often than electrons, hinting at a new force effecting the process. A number of hypothetical force-carrying particles such as leptoquarks or Z primes might be to blame.

The LHC has been offline for upgrades since 2018 and now it back online it is expected to operate until 2026. The upgrades include more powerful magnets that should produce tighter beams and cause more collisions leading to the CERN team being able to observe rarer particles with greater precision.

While the discovery of a new force would be revolutionary for particle physics, a failure to discover it would also cause shockwaves in the physics world and leave scientists wondering where they need to look next.

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