Particle physicists can breath a sign of relief as the data that suggested existence of an unknown particle seems to be an anomalous find.
Earlier this year there were claims of a new particle based on data collected in 2015 from proton-on-proton collisions at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) wherein scientists said that they had found a particle with 750 gigaelectronvolts worth of energy.
If we dwell into the realm of particle physics a little – in case of elementary particles energy is equivalent to mass – and by this principle it would have meant that the new particle with 750GeV would be a rather massive particle – too big to be explained by the Standard Model of particle physics. This could have broken the model and hence physicists around the world were waiting for more data and report on whether this find actually was accurate or not.
Higgs boson’s proof lent support to the Standard Model; however, it didn’t provide enough proof that there were something more beyond the Standard Model. The particle with 750GeV would have not only broken the Standard Model, but it would have opened up new doors in physics. Questions such as whether this particle was a particle of the dark matter or whether it was from another dimension were being posed. Soon after the initial findings were released as many as 500 more studies were released probing the identify of the particle.
CERN revealed on August 5 that the signs of the new particle were nothing but probably statistical fluctuations and this acted like a fire extinguisher on a tiny spark. However, in the world of particle physics even a tiny spark is an indication of a huge flame because elementary particles are born and decay stochastically thereby making it impossible for anyone to say anything with 100 per cent certainty.
The data collected at CERN last year was based on some 300 trillion proton-on-proton collisions. The ATLAS team calculated a 2.1-sigma for their 750GeV blip, which means there was a 1 in 100 chance of it being a fluke. The team did not have enough data to determine whether what it observed was actually a new particle or just a statistical fluctuation.
This year, the team repeated the experiment with four times more collisions. Combining this larger data set of 1.2 quadrillion collisions with the data set from last year, they found that the 750GeV blip virtually disappeared. With the larger data set, the ATLAS team can say only with less than 1-sigma confidence that their blip has any meaning beyond statistical fluctuation: It could happen by chance two out of 10 times.
Both teams have concluded that what they found in their data last year was due to statistical fluctuation.