In DepthParticle Physics

In familiar decays, a whiff of new physics

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Science  21 Apr 2017:
Vol. 356, Issue 6335, pp. 229-230
DOI: 10.1126/science.356.6335.229

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For decades, particle physicists have yearned for physics beyond their tried-and-true standard model. Now, they are finding signs of something unexpected at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world's biggest atom smasher at CERN, the European particle physics laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland. The hints come not from the LHC's two large detectors, which have yielded no new particles since they bagged the last missing piece of the standard model, the Higgs boson, in 2012, but from a smaller detector, called LHCb. It precisely measures the decays of familiar particles, especially those called B mesons, each of which contains a massive particle called a bottom quark bound to a lighter type of antiquark. LHCb physicists reported their latest result 18 April in a talk at CERN, and the faint signal jibes with a half-dozen related clues that LHCb physicists have found that all seem to point to some new physics taking place within the roiling innards of a B meson. If it's not a mirage of statistical fluctuations, that new physics could include a new force-carrying particle called a Z' or exotic particles called leptoquarks.