Monday, June 13, 2011

"It will be a hell of a lot of fun"

Is this going to be "the most exciting summer since 1974"? Possibly, if you're a particle physicist.

Last week, the CDF experiment at Fermilab reported some tantalizing evidence of a new, unknown particle. A few days ago, a different Fermilab experiment, called D0 (D-zero), reported the results of their independent check on the CDF result. D0's answer? Nothing there.

These intriguing result are showing up just as Fermilab prepares to shut these experiments down for good. At the same time, the LHC in Switzerland is gearing up to do similar work. So far, LHC doesn't see anything either, but it doesn't have enough data yet to say for sure.

What happens if LHC does see something? As Fermilab's Gordon Watts says,

If they do see it, then all the papers proposing different models will be scoured for their distinguishing features, and all of us experimenters will run off to try to compare them with data. Very little sleep will be had. It will be a hell of a lot of fun.

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