Eight months after raising hopes that they might have found an intriguing new particle that cannot be explained by the existing main physics theory, disappointed scientists are saying: Never mind.
It was just a statistical burp, not a breakthrough, researchers reported Friday.
“Basically, we see nothing,” said Tiziano Camporesi, a chief scientific spokesman at the European Center for Nuclear Research.
At a Chicago physics conference, Dave Charlton, another CERN chief scientific spokesman, said the additional data showed that what they had seen earlier was just a random “statistical fluke.”
Early unconfirmed readings of a new particle in December by physicists at the center, known for short as CERN, 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 as though they might had found a revolutionary new particle.
But in the months that followed, scientists pored over more data from high-speed atom crashes while theorists tried to figure out what it all means. And the new data ruled out any particle existing at the energy level they had been looking at.
California Institute of Technology physicist Sean Carroll, who wasn’t part of the CERN team, 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, Charlton and Camporesi said.