Last December, the Large Hadron Collider detected a massive spike of energy. The same blip has been observed several times since, making it far less likely that this is a fluke. It is possible we’re dealing with a particle the likes of which we have never seen. It is several times more powerful than the Higgs Boson. And it has the potential to shatter everything we know about the universe into tiny little pieces.
The energy spikes have been seen independently by two different LHC instruments. They measured in at 750 giga electon-volts (GeV). The Higgs Boson, by comparison, measures only 125 GeV, and the current most energetic quark reaches only 172 GeV. In other words, this potential new particle is packing a lot of power. What this particle might be, or what it might be capable of, is completely unknown. However, it has appeared on their instruments enough times now to warrant serious investigation.
What makes this so exciting is that scientists have long since theorized of a Standard Model of Physics. Of the way the universe is and how it acts. The Higgs Boson, discovered a year or two ago, essentially “proved” this Standard Model. This unimaginably powerful particle completely contradicts the Standard Model. If this proves to be real, it could shatter the Model only years after it gained ground.
Of course, so little is known about this particle, including whether it actually exists. However, it wouldn’t be the first time that everything we thought we knew about the universe has been thrown right out the window. And it probably won't be the last.
Another interesting facet of this discovery – or potential discovery – is simply how unexpected it was. Usually, discoveries like this can only come about when scientists have theorized them and begun actively searching for them. For this reason, discoveries of this nature tend to be within our expectations. Technology like the CERN Large Hadron Collider, which is capable of producing mind-blowingly fast particle collisions, allows us to recreate the conditions of the universe’s inception. As a result, a whole mess of things we haven’t even thought of can start popping up as a result of this machine’s antics. It’s part of what makes the Hadron Collider such an impressive bit of kit compared to everything else out there. It’s part of why merely turning it on a few years ago had us all panicking that the world might be destroyed.
This mystery particle is likely to be just one of many theorem-shattering discoveries in the coming years. And just think, during Victorian times our physicists were sure enough of themselves to think they’d solved every one of the universe’s mysteries. Chances are we’re just at the tip of the iceberg. And, knowing what physics is like, it’s bound to be one weirdly-shaped iceberg indeed.
My name is Jamie O'Flinn. I am a 24-year-old writer living in the West Midlands. I received a degree in Professional Writing in 2012, and am pleased to report a total lifetime earnings of 50p so far. Earned when I was 8. Selling a story about yoghurt to my literacy teacher.
When not being NRM's star contributor, I'm either gaming, drawing, blogging or trying to shill my bad leprechaun novels to wary agents. There's also a webcomic I've been meaning to do. Maybe. One day.
I'm also delightfully autistic, which grants me special powers. Like tinnitus, and occasional sudden blindness.