A New Particle?

So I have two questions for the scientists at Fermilab: First, if they were going to discover a new subatomic particle, why didn’t they do that during the last two years, when I was working there? And second, if they had to make a discovery like this after I was no longer in any way affiliated with them, why did they wait to announce it until a weekend when I’m too busy to blog about it?

I’ll try to say something more substantial about the topic in a few days; hopefully scientists will know more at that point too. I’m feeling a bit cautious myself: this potential “particle” seems just a little TOO weird, and there’s not nearly enough evidence to say for sure that it exists at this point. Its sort of like finding a big smudge in the mud that looks like a two-food long lizard footprint. Could it be evidence of a six-foot-long lizard? Definitely. But then you have all kinds of other questions to ask, including the all-important “if there are six-foot-long lizards running around, how come all anyone has ever seen is this one footprint?”

Still, if it turns out they’ve got a new particle, it would be the moment physicists have been waiting for for probably 20 years, and it would mean I picked a really, really exciting time to be a graduate student :-).

So, expect some more explanations of the science from me in the next week or so. Until then, I’ve selected the two best articles on the subject for your edification.

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About Colin West
Colin West is a graduate student in quantum information theory, working at the Yang Institute for Theoretical Physics at Stony Brook University. Originally from Colorado (where he attended college), his interests outside of physics include politics, paper-folding, puzzles, playing-cards, and apparently, plosives.

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