New Fundamental Physics? Unexplainable Phenomena From Large Hadron Collider Experiment

A typical LHCb event fully reconstructed. Particles identified as pions, kaon, etc. are shown in different colors. Credit: CERN, LHCb Collaboration

Results announced by the LHCb experiment at CERN have revealed further hints for phenomena that cannot be explained by our current theory of fundamental physics.

In March 2020, the same experiment released evidence of particles breaking one of the core principles of the Standard Model – our best theory of particles and forces – suggesting the possible existence of new fundamental particles and forces.

Now, further measurements by physicists at Cambridge’s Cavendish Laboratory have found similar effects, boosting the case for new physics.

“The fact that we’ve seen the same effect as our colleagues did in March certainly boosts the chances that we might genuinely be on the brink of discovering something new.” — Harry Cliff

The Standard Model describes all the known particles that make up the universe and the forces that they interact through. It has passed every experimental test to date, and yet physicists know it must be incomplete. It does not include the force of gravity, nor can it account for how matter was produced during the Big Bang. It also contains no particle that could explain the mysterious dark matter that astronomy tells us is five times more abundant than the stuff that makes up the visible world around us.

As a result, physicists have long been hunting for signs of physics beyond the Standard Model that might help us to address some of these mysteries.

One of the best ways to search for new particles and forces is to study particles known as beauty quarks. These are exotic cousins of the up and down quarks that make up the nucleus of every atom.

Beauty quarks don’t exist in large numbers in the world around as they are incredibly short-lived – surviving on average for just a trillionth of a second before transforming or decaying into other particles. However, billions of beauty quarks are produced every year by CERN’s giant particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider, which are recorded by a purpose-built detector called LHCb.

LHCb experiment cavern at LHC- IP 8. Credit: CERN

The way beauty quarks decay can be influenced by the existence of undiscovered forces or particles. In March, a team of physicists at LHCb released results showing evidence that beauty quarks were decaying into particles called muons less often than to their lighter cousins, electrons. This is impossible to explain in the Standard Model, which treats electrons and muons identically, apart from the fact that electrons are around 200 times lighter than muons. As a result, beauty quarks ought to decay into muons and electrons at equal rates. Instead, the physicists at LHCb found that the muon decay was only happening around 85% as often as the electron decay.

The difference between the LHCb result and the Standard Model was about three units of experimental error, or ‘3 sigma’ as it is known in particle physics. This means there is only around a one in a thousand chance of the result being caused by a statistical fluke.

Assuming the result is correct, the most likely explanation is that a new force that pulls on electrons and muons with different strengths is interfering with how these beauty quarks decay. However, to be sure if the effect is real more data is needed to reduce the experimental error. Only when a result reaches the ‘5 sigma’ threshold, when there is less than a one in a million chance of it being due to random chance, will particle physicists start to consider it a genuine discovery.

“The fact that we’ve seen the same effect as our colleagues did in March certainly boosts the chances that we might genuinely be on the brink of discovering something new,” said Dr. Harry Cliff from the Cavendish Laboratory. “It’s great to shed a little more light on the puzzle.”

Today’s result examined two new beauty quark decays from the same family of decays as used in the March result. The team found the same effect – the muon decays were only happening around 70% as often as the electron decays. This time the error is larger, meaning that the deviation is around ‘2 sigma’, meaning there is just over a 2% chance of it being due to a statistical quirk of the data. While the result isn’t conclusive on its own, it does add further support to a growing pile of evidence that there are new fundamental forces waiting to be discovered.

“The excitement at the Large Hadron Collider is growing just as the upgraded LHCb detector is about to be switched on and further data collected that will provide the necessary statistics to either claim or refute a major discovery,” said Professor Val Gibson, also from the Cavendish Laboratory.

CERNLarge Hadron ColliderParticle PhysicsPopularUniversity of Cambridge
Comments ( 52 )
Add Comment
  • HenryE

    If a beauty quark only decays into either an electron or a muon, there is more mystery than just why more electrons that muons are created. How can beauty quarks decay into particles that have a mass difference of 200 times if they are identical to begin with?

    And how in any Universe can you treat electrons and muons the same mathematically if “electrons are around 200 times lighter than muons”? Even with an identical charge, a 200 times difference in mass is too enormous for identical treatment. This mass difference must be accounted for since it’s probably directly linked to the seeming imbalance in the electron/muon ratio.

    Any force that can act on both electrons and muons will certainly affect them differently but can’t cause some beauty quarks to decay into particles that are 200 times more massive than the decay product of another beauty quark no matter how much the force might interfere with the timing (or other aspects) of the decay of the beauty quarks.

    Before wondering why there is a difference in the number of muons versus the number of electrons created as decay products, it would be good to figure out how identical beauty quarks can decay into particles with such a giant mass difference.


      Word for word what went through my head as I read it, condescension included. THAT is the force I want to find out about. What in the holy hot hell is having a mathematically similar effect on two particles that have such a substantial difference in mass?

      And I’m dumb. Not really but I never took a physics class. Dropped out in 10th grade. This stuff fascinates me to no end. And I understand it. It’s awesome. The 4 electron superstate that breaks time reversal symmetry? Holy balls, that’s insane. They took all the largest telescopes on earth, somehow had good weather in all I wanna say either 8 or 11 locations on Earth which were all somehow aimed at the exact same point in space a BILLION lightyears away effectively making Earth one big bubble butt telescope, and they took a picture of a GOT dang black hole. And it was the SHIT. Wait until people remember money is just paper and metal we assigned value to centuries ago. We made it up. So why does poverty exist? Because people can SUCK. Often. Just point at something and assign a value to it SO I CAN HAZ CHEEZBURGER. The same concept applies to clocks. Nobody just left them here for us so we inherently knew time flows in one direction. Early man sure didn’t look at the fireball in the sky like a Timex. That idiot called the sun god. Clocks are another thing we made up. We literally invented our own perception of time. So…if we never invented a method of measuring time, would we perceive time as…ONE Direction? That’s a coincidence, hear me out. Or would our perception of time be a two way street? These are the things I think about when I make poopies. This is the best comment reply in human history.


      • Chuck Anziulewicz

        You’re really full of yourself, aren’t you?

    • Torbjörn Larsson

      Those quarks decay, for the same reason why protons don’t: there is a series of different massed quarks. So the quarks more massive than bottom decays into it, as well as these other particles (and more massive proton like nucleons decay into it, akin to how the neutron does whil also emitting an electron and an antineutrino).

      “The bottom quark’s “bare” mass is around 4.18 GeV/c2[3] – a bit more than four times the mass of a proton, and many orders of magnitude larger than common “light” quarks.

      Although it almost exclusively transitions from or to a top quark, the bottom quark can decay into either an up quark or charm quark via the weak interaction. CKM matrix elements Vub and Vcb specify the rates, where both these decays are suppressed, making lifetimes of most bottom particles (~10−12 s) somewhat longer than those of charmed particles (~10−13 s), but shorter than those of strange particles (from ~10−10 to ~10−8 s).[11]”

      [ ]

      The same basic information should be in the paper, if you are interested in these things.

      • xABBAAA

        … there, there, mr Torbjörn Larsson…
        … I think that you should consider Sabine Hossenfelder video posts, they are just so great, only she likes to repeat things, but that you get with years of teaching, i guess…
        … she is awesome….

  • mullach abu

    a beauty quark is a quark with a charge of -1/3 and a mass approximately 10,000 times that of an electron 9.10938356 x 10-31 kilograms x 10
    a beauty quark is a quark with a muon mass = 1.883 531 627 x 10-28 kilograms
    and an electron mass = 9.10938356 x 10-31 kilograms 200 lighter than its cousin
    add together = ??a double mass 10,000 an electron mass ??
    the question remains is 1.883 531 627 x 10-28 kilograms two hundred times different from 9.10938356 x 10-31 kilograms
    mirror mirror on the wall why is that crack occurring in my frame
    in a trillionth of a second a scientific force A is applied to a beauty quark
    the beauty quark transforms itself transfigures itself into two
    the beauty quark loses a mass = 9.10938356 x 10-31 kilograms = an electron
    and the remainder of the beauty quark becomes an ugly quark = a muon = 1.883 531 627 x 10-28 kilograms
    but the question is has the beauty quark lost a limb appendage only and it is a wounded muon body
    or did the beauty quark produce an offspring that makes it 200 times lighter and after the birth become beauty mark muon ii ready to meet scientific force A again
    does a beauty quark decay 10,000 mass of an electron into an electron and a muon require
    one scientific force B to generate a muon and an electron
    one scientific force C to generate a muon seperate to an electron
    so if someone could give me the theoretical scientific names of the forces A and B and or C above we might be able to understand the ancient auld natural universe world out there the everyday normal boring natural

    • Torbjörn Larsson

      I’m not sure what you mean with “scientific” force, but quantum fields, their particles and their particle decays are long known albeit complex physics. See my response to HenryE as well as for more detail.


    … Only the God know what we don’t…

    • Torbjörn Larsson

      Superstition – so you don’t know that.

  • Mike Pollock

    Our universe is a field of extremely pressurized electron neutrinos. Our planet is manipulating this field with it’s core. Particles leaving the Earth do not react with normal matter but the ones coming from space do. They cause gravity and they attack the quarks that are created in the particle colliders. They immediately interact with them and turn them back into normal matter. These particles also cause the massive charges in clouds that cause lightning. Current theories are what causes this reality to be obvious.

      • Mike Pollock

        Torbjorn, you really need to get a grip on reality. Problems have existed since you were born that you are ignoring. Your theory from your link cannot comprehend the force that causes gravity, it can’t explain dark energy, it can’t explain dark matter, it can’t explain the muon problem, it is leading the scientists that are trying to create fusion as an energy source on a wild goose chase. You’ve ignored this link the whole time. You need to comprehend that the LCDM model destroys all the laws of physics the first second the universe is “born”. Please let your followers know these facts.

      • Mike Pollock

        Torbjorn. I would suggest you read the “challenges” section of the link you provided. They are a result of the theory breaking all the laws of physics and will never be rectified until science assumes that only the galaxies are expanding like Edwin Hubble always wanted everyone to think. Hubble thought the “expanding universe” assumption was totally wrong.

  • Promytius

    The reality of scale points to the probability that there will never be a unit so small that we cannot detect and measure it. What could those forces/units/thingys be?

  • enchance

    Entertaining article but please check your physics. Gravity is not a force.

    • Torbjörn Larsson

      You are alluding to the technicality that classical gravity theory of general relativity use space curvature so you get pseudovectors as force descriptions. But in the sense of quantum field theory there is no difference between the fundamental forces.

      “Gravity is most accurately described by the general theory of relativity (proposed by Albert Einstein in 1915), which describes gravity not as a force, but as a consequence of masses moving along geodesic lines in a curved spacetime caused by the uneven distribution of mass.”

      “The electromagnetic force arises from an exchange of virtual photons, where the QFT description of gravity is that there is an exchange of virtual gravitons.”

      “According to Newton’s 3rd Law, the Earth itself experiences a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction to that which it exerts on a falling object.”

      ['s_gravity ]

      Potato, potatoe.

  • Liam O

    I feel like even in an artificial vacuum, on earth, there is a high abundance of other forces (gravity, electromagnetism etc) that might have an impact on what happens to particles that small. And what if the vacuums we create here are not true vacuums. That there is an abundance of something else we can’t yet measure

    • Torbjörn Larsson

      There isn’t, see the 100 % complete LCDM cosmology. But that contains a lot of energy and so interactions that isn’t described in the Standard Particle model that covers only the universe 5 % of normal matter.

  • Anomous

    Old saying of paint on the wall.

  • Torbjörn Larsson

    I’m loath to call 2 sigma observations, on top of the earlier 3 sigma ones, anything else than “potential evidence”.

    By the nature of statistics 2-3 sigma observations come and go all the time whether or not some are more potentially exciting than others.

    As a context I read the late Weinberg’s summary of effective quantum field theory where he as well as others identified the lepton sector as the one where we would likely see most corrections. And indeed where we already see non-Standard Particle model physics in the neutrino oscillations!

    • Jonathan

      Where is the data on non-standard model particle physics in neutrino oscillations?

  • Just Jenn

    It is no great wonder that there are particles that show up exactly where and when you expect them to if you know how. It’s called INTENTION. This should be classified as a scientific force (maybe THE force) because it works. All the time. Believe it or don’t. It will follow and do what you think it will. Currently, we call this “magic”. How childish. The rest of this rigamorole about very large numbers to describe very small things is a bunch of dudes trying to over-explain the intuitive…how very masculine a pursuit is empirical science? Hmmm. How is this helping humanity again? I am hard put to conceive of any concrete benefit from this circus of experimental particles but it sure does cost alot of money so there’s got to be something it’s accomplishing. What could that be, I wonder? At least a good magician is entertaining. This is drivel. I’m going to go meditate on less idle pursuits and see what my intention can manifest. The possibility particle! Imagine

    • Torbjörn Larsson

      Superstition. And yes, the one you are likely thinking of is what psychologists describe as – ironically – magic thinking in children.

      In any case, of no interest to adults in the room.

    • Torbjörn Larsson

      I missed the common but erroneous plaint of how this is helping humanity.

      For instance, radiology of observing humans innards for diseases and treating ones such as cancers. There the accelerator superconductor technology has been immensely useful for decades now.

      So, you are neither understanding nature nor science and society use of it. Color me surprised (not) to see such multi-dysfunctionality.

  • kishore

    Nuclear magnetic wavelength

    What happened?

    The object at the wavelength is needed to reflect the sound wave, which means that the object size can be calculated using the wavelength. Atom size is calculated based on that. But modern science says that the wavelength comes at a frequency of 10 ^ -15. And vice versa. Is it the opportunism of modern science? So how does a nuclear microwave length come about?

    MRI magnetic resonance imaging. Powerful magnets and radio waves emit radio waves from the nucleus of the hydrogen atom in body water and fat. It can subtly create a reflection of things inside the body. This is the basic principle of MRI. Nuclear magnetic resonance. Here modern science says that the size of the atom. Hydrogen atom? Is there such a thing, Lord? In my theory there is only the concept of hydrogen molecule. There are molecules of different sizes in the universe. The ether dose is very small. Matters are the basic properties of elements. There are trillions of atoms in matter. It cannot split the atom. The word atom itself means inseparable. Even the force of the universe cannot split the atom. Even in the Big Bang, the atom does not split. Divided by other factors. The Jondalten atom concept can never be split by anyone. Modern science is divided by something else. Particles that divide very rapidly between the largest and the smallest particles that do not divide.

    The largest undivided particle is our universe, which means that our universe does not split in two and become two parallel universes. Similarly, the smallest particle in the universe, the base particle, does not split. It is called the microcosm. That is, the basic particle of the universe is the microcosm itself. Here the mass and size are all just a relative point of view.

    In my theory there is a magnetic core concept to analyze MRI. It says a little about it. The magnetic cores are the dosage form. When the magnetic field comes, they are parallel. Going back to the old state. Then the radio wave echoes. This is what happens. Water is made up of hydrogen and oxygen. Let it be. Take a look at this image, which depicts the wavelength and atom size of modern science. The size of the atom is between x and gamma. The size of the nucleus is in the cosmic wavelength. (My atom is much smaller than this.) Look at the wavelength of the radio wave. Common sense will tell you how much frequency is needed to hit the nucleus here. That is, the wavelength object must be able to reflect the sound wave to understand modern physics. Modern science has some philosophical inconsistencies. Are scientists ignorant and silent in the face of all this? They have no idea what to do. See picture Atomic nucleus. Magnetic resonance is the name of the game. Nuclear magnetic resonance would be a big mistake even in modern science. Modern science has corrected itself when it saw philosophical inconsistencies. The wavelength I accept is up to the wavelength up to the virus, because neither the atomic universal force nor man can split.

    • Jonathan

      Well said. It seems enterprising “scientists” are trying to extrapolate junk science fiction to keep their grant funding steady. There is zero physical evidence for muons or “beauty quarks” or anything at ALL smaller than the hydrogen atom.

  • Sebby Balasteros

    As a layman, is there conservation of energy occuring here?

    Are the mass and velocity squared products equal?

    Or what is the difference?

    • Jonathan

      They don’t have any of this data. In fact there’s no physical data of their assertions of sub atomic particles. It’s all extrapolations of “dark matter” based on Einstein’s acceptance that relativity didn’t account for all the physical data we’re able to glean about the physics of matter, our solar system, etc.

  • Uli

    I wonder whether the scientists at CERN are already incorporating the findings to revise their existing model even though a Sigma 3 level can still be attributed to experimental error.

    • Wesley Slayton

      What is it like sigma5 that they need to consider good enough to incorporate into the model?

  • Vick L Gardner

    All these questions about masses. It may help to remember that with the proton, for example… made up of 3 quarks with “rest” masses of just 2-5 Mev… most of its bound “rest” mass of 931 Mev can be attributed to the binding ENERGY of the quark-gluon system (about half) plus their relativistic motions (the other half).
    Quarks always travel in at least pairs, so I’ve been told, so there must be gluons associated with any “free” quarks… energy of binding and whirling… mass equivalent. Where am I going wrong?

  • Vick L Gardner

    @Kishore Haven’t you heard of nuclear fission?

  • Thomas Wolf

    Just a theory, while skimming the article and comments… My suggestion is that maybe when the two particles are interacting… Could there be an energy transferance and manipulation where the electrical energy becomes magnetic energy? Causing an increase in mass for one without losing any particle material.

  • Steven

    Look at it in the context of the simulation hypnosis. I’ll bet it makes perfect sense.

  • mullach abu

    a beauty quark is a quark with a charge of -1/3 and a mass approximately 10,000 times that of an electron 9.10938356 x 10-31 kilograms x 10
    a beauty quark is a quark with a muon mass = 1.883 531 627 x 10-28 kilograms
    and an electron mass = 9.10938356 x 10-31 kilograms 200 lighter than its cousin
    add together = ??a double mass 10,000 an electron mass ??
    the question remains is 1.883 531 627 x 10-28 kilograms two hundred times different from 9.10938356 x 10-31 kilograms
    a muon is basically a carbon copy of an electron except 200 times heavier
    all the forces should pull on electrons and muons with equal strength
    i see nobody plays the game of tug of war here
    one team A holds onto the rope and pulls on a force two hundred times lighter and gets them electrons over the line 100% of the time
    one weak force applies itself with effortless ease to pluck them electrons from the beauty bottom quark
    one team A holds onto the rope and pulls on a force two hundred times heavier and gets them muons over the line 70% to 85 % of the time
    im really surprised that the weak force dont succeed 50% or less of the time with a body two hundred times heavier
    one weak force applies itself with a big strain on its face to pluck them muons away and keep them separate from those other free electrons
    that darn weak force must be stronger than i anticipated even after pulling 200 times with effortless ease 100 times
    and strained ease 75 times
    and unmighty strain 25 times with no result
    its a day in the life of the weak force out there with a stretch reaching 0.5 millimetres in action and interaction
    any distance beyond 1 millimetre
    the weak force its force would be like a butterfly flapping its wings at u

  • Cynthia Binder

    Now this is century old experiments. New eyes please. 😏🏁🎃🏁🌝🍕🥤I am going to have a slice🍕🍕holidays are coming, no bosses or work, just family time…moons n electrons behave…

    • Tim C.

      By explains it all I mean the issues with the standard model.

  • Wesley Slayton

    Not a physicist here. Just a big fan! I propose a thought…

    What if the universe is infinite x infinite and there are no smallest fundamental particles nor is there a limit to the size of universe or any object in it? I am still trying to wrap my head around this. I’m pretty good at math in my head but I’ve never worked out massively complex equations or graduated with any credential attending university … If anyone wants to chime in and tell me how this can’t be possible and how it couldn’t possibly solve anything surrounding the crisis of cosmology or a breakthrough in how we perceive the laws of the universe?

  • schmitz

    It was Voldemort

  • Mark

    The whole premise of CERN’s Hadron Collider, which took a decade to build and cost around $4.75 billion is really laughable!! The current scientific consensus is that the universe “exploded” into existence about 13.7 billion years ago. Many scientists assume that the universe came from NOTHING, which is an idea that can only be true in light of quantum theory. Therefore, it’s IMPOSSIBLE to PROVE their assumption, because they CREATED the Hadron Collider from EXISTING MATTER!! THAT’S CHEATING!!!! In order for their theories to be correct, the Hadron Collider, itself, would need to have appeared out of NOWHERE and from NOTHINGNESS, then they would have to wait for BILLIONS of years for the Matter to have EVOLVED [on its own] from all the bits of Energy!! Plus, Science also CANNOT explain how you get COMPLEX INFORMATION from NOTHING!! DUH!! LOL 🙂

  • Scott

    The reason we struggle to understand gravity is because all these experiments are taking place on earth within the range of Earth’s gravitational pull. Perhaps if we had a large collider in space we could compare results of identical experiments done outside Earth’s gravity and we might find some anomalies that bring things to light.

  • Graham Jones

    With all your scientific expertise trying to prove the big band and evolution theory. Something that doesn’t exit. Try to come to terms that humans are not the most intelligent beings, no not even you. Face the fact Jehovah God created everything in rhe universe and is in full control. But you NEED TO BE HUMBLE to except the truth before the time of the arrogant self-important are wiped of the face of this wonderful planet Revelation 11:18 God will bring to ruin, those ruining the Earth. You have been warned, this will happen sooner than you think.

  • Marlena Fairbourne

    I don’t know a dang thing about this stuff but I like reading it… I don’t think any human mind is really capable of grasping the scope of this miracle we call the universe…why it is and what it is… But for a scientific mind it certainly must be fun trying

  • John Fenley

    If they are IDENTICAL except for mass, why don’t we see more neutrons decaying into muons?

  • Michael

    If humanity never gets nature’s simple message: leave well-enough alone – i fear we are on an epically disastrous path.

  • Gabriel Martinez

    Actually there still referring to a certain force that is equal or identical to the 70 to 80% of the same said force or ( emptiness ) that our universe develops aka dE. But that will forever and ever be a mystery. But the optimism is zealous at the present capacity. Unless!;

  • Gm

    Furthermore dM is only matter because dE is not a matter ,as it never will be measured by anything and is fundamentally absent to itself.

  • Jonathan

    Torbjörn Larsson what physical evidence do you have of the existence of muons and beauty quarks? There is no evidence for them aside from the extrapolated mental meanderings of “scientists” hell bent on keeping their grants renewed. This is the same junk science that “dark matter” gets derived from when in actuality “dark matter” was only Einstein’s acceptable of a law of physics not currently explained by relativity and the Copenhagen model. Yet the idea of dark matter has been extrapolated into a entire genre of science fiction.