Friday, December 23, 2011

Large Hadron Collider has first confirmed sighting of new particle (but it's not the Higgs) - 22nd Dec 2011

The Atlas detector - one of the LHC's two huge particle detectors - captured a particle that physicists had suspected to exist for years, but had never seen 'in the wild'.

The Chi_b (3P) particle was detected among data from the trillions of collisions at the LHC.

The discovery was hailed as testimony to how effectively physicists were now scanning the collision data - and essential background to the LHC's ongoing quest for the Higgs, a theoretical particle which is thought to 'explain' why the universe has mass.

Physicists scan the data from the LHC's detectors for 'unusual' signals from the debris of high-energy collisions. This new particle is an important milestone for the collider - and a crucial step in its mission to fill in the gaps in our understanding of physics.

Professor Stefan Soldner-Rembold, a particle physicist at the University of Manchester said the Higgs 'will always be the Nobel Prize', but that this discovery is still very exciting.

What's been discovered, he explained, is a particle comprised of a bottom quark and a bottom anti-quark - an entirely new kid on the sub-atomic block that until now was merely a theory. Read More