In DepthParticle Physics

Giant atom-smasher gears up to chase whiff of new physics

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Science  18 Mar 2016:
Vol. 351, Issue 6279, pp. 1248-1249
DOI: 10.1126/science.351.6279.1248

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Physicists at the world's biggest atom-smasher—the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the European particle physics laboratory, CERN, in Switzerland—are about to start a new data run. They are eager for results. Last year, the LHC blasted out hints of an unexpected new fundamental particle—potentially the first one in decades not predicted by physicists' standard model of fundamental forces and particles. If real, the new particle would resemble the famed Higgs boson but would be about six times as massive. Some physicists think it is just another, heavier Higgs. Others, however, say its decay patterns suggest that still other novel particles may be at work. Theorists are scrambling to figure out how such newcomers might fit into theories, such as supersymmetry, that extend the standard model. Experimenters at CERN say they should have enough data to test last year's signals within months—although figuring out what lies behind them if they're real could take much longer.