“Huge Mystery Novel!” –Standard Model Can’t Predict Why We Exist (‘A 2018 Most Viewed’)

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“We know the Standard Model is wrong, but we can’t seem to find where it’s wrong. It’s like a huge mystery novel,” Gabrielse said. “We should be very careful about making assumptions that we’re getting closer to solving the mystery, but I do have considerable hope that we’re getting closer at this level of precision.”

“The Standard Model as it stands cannot possibly be right because it cannot predict why the universe exists,” said Gabrielse, the Board of Trustees Professor of Physics at Northwestern. “That’s a pretty big loophole.”

In a new study, researchers at Northwestern, Harvard and Yale universities examined the shape of an electron’s charge with unprecedented precision to confirm that it is perfectly spherical. A slightly squashed charge could have indicated unknown, hard-to-detect heavy particles in the electron’s presence, a discovery that could have upended the global physics community.

“If we had discovered that the shape wasn’t round, that would be the biggest headline in physics for the past several decades,” said Gerald Gabrielse, who led the research at Northwestern. “But our finding is still just as scientifically significant because it strengthens the Standard Model of particle physics and excludes alternative models.”

 

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A longstanding theory, the Standard Model of particle physics describes most of the fundamental forces and particles in the universe. The model is a mathematical picture of reality, and no laboratory experiments yet performed have contradicted it.

This lack of contradiction has been puzzling physicists for decades: Gabrielse and his ACME colleagues have spent their careers trying to close this loophole by examining the Standard Model’s predictions and then trying to confirm them through table-top experiments in the lab.

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ESO Observatories Chile

 

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