Earlier this month, we got a strange case of science working exactly like it's supposed to. There was some flurry of activity about a bump in the data at Fermilab's CDF apparatus, part of their Tevatron collider. If this data could have been confirmed, it would have potentially signalled a whole new type of particle, which may have required revisions to the Standard Model to get everything to work out consistently.
Instead, what happened is that the Tevatron's other experiment, DZero, found no indication of the bump signalling this new particle. Case closed, it would seem ... no new particle.
While this might seem like a failure for physics, it's exactly the way that things are supposed to go! In fact, it's the whole reason why they have two different experiments set up at the Tevatron - so they can check each others' results. There's a bittersweet element to this, however, because the hope was that the Tevatron might find some major new discovery in its closing months. The Tevatron is set to wind down its activities and go offline in September (September 30 at 2:00 pm, to be exact.)
But fear not, because particle physics is in good hands with the Large Hadron Collider breaking records for the most number of collisions, which is giving a lot of data to physicists all around the world. That pesky Higgs Boson will be discovered in no time (if it's out there, and we don't discover something unexpected and far more interesting).
- Cosmic Variance blog - Milestones for the Tevatron and LHC, June 18
- Symmetry Breaking blog - LHC experiments reach record data milestone, June 17
- CBS News/Space.com - World's biggest particle collider smashes data record, June 17
- Cosmic Variance blog - Why We Need the Higgs, or Something Like It, June 14
- Symmetry Breaking blog - Fermilab's DZero weighs in on an unexpected CDF result, June 10
- Cosmic Variance blog - D0 Decides to be Debbie Downers, June 10
- Wired Science - New Tevatron Particle May Be a Mirage, June 10
- Discovery News - Fermilab's 'Bump Hunters' See Hints of New Particle, June 5
- Cosmic Variance - Anomaly at the Tevatron Might Be Something Real?, May 30