In DepthParticle Physics

A hunt for long-lived particles ramps up

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Science  24 May 2019:
Vol. 364, Issue 6442, pp. 715-716
DOI: 10.1126/science.364.6442.715

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Are new particles materializing right under physicists' noses and going unnoticed? The world's great atom smasher, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), could be making long-lived particles that slip through its detectors before decaying, some researchers say. Next week, they will gather at the LHC's home, CERN, the European particle physics laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland, to discuss how to capture them. They argue the LHC's next run should emphasize such searches, and they are calling for an array of new detectors that could sniff out the fugitive particles. However, spotting such oddball particles with the LHC's existing detectors won't be easy. Those huge barrel-shaped devices are optimized to find new particles that decay immediately in their centers, instead of flying centimeters or even meters before decaying. So researchers working on those detectors must work to ensure that the devices record the odd events and don't treat them like extraneous noise. Meanwhile, some researchers are proposing new detectors to snare particles that live long enough to make it all the way out of the existing ones—including a huge one that would sit on the surface above one of the existing detectors 70 meters underground.