the foundations of physics, researchers at the renowned Brookhaven
National Laboratory said yesterday they had found a possible
flaw in the reigning theory of how the universe works.
a stunningly precise magnetic field and some of the world's
most accurate measuring equipment, the physicists showed that
a subatomic particle called a muon behaved differently than
expected under what is called ''the Standard Model.'' The Standard
Model has become a kind of scientific gospel, explaining how
all matter and energy interact, forming the basis of modern
physics, and, to some degree, all of the physical sciences.
Until yesterday's announcement, the Standard Model had withstood
three decades of challenge.
have been looking for holes in the Standard Model since it was
invented,” said Lee Roberts, a physicist at Boston University
who has been involved with the muon project since 1984 and is
a spokesman for the experiment. “This is the first signal that
there might be something beyond.”
work is the result of a cooperative venture of approximately
80 physicists from around the world, and the results have been
submitted to the journal, Physics Review Letters. If the findings
withstand the intense worldwide scrutiny sure to come, they
would mark the beginning of 21st century physics, when speculative
theories with names like “supersymmetry” and “string theory”
can be tested in the lab.
find this very exciting,” said Gerald Gabrielse, chairman of
Harvard's physics department and a specialist in high-energy
physics. “The hope is that now we will be able to move to a
deeper level of understanding for the ways that particles are
arranged and behave.”
Cook, “Discovery on particle has physics world spinning”
Boston Globe, 2/9/01