Scientists running the Large Hadron Collider, aka the "big bang machine", announced Friday they've discovered a brand new particle during one of their experiments. The discovery's announcement first came in Symmetry Magazine. Talking Points Memo interviewed Carlos Lourenco, one of the leading researchers at CERN, the group who run the LHC. The new particle, "neutral Xi_b^star baryon," is made up of three quarks, and only exists for a minuscule amount of time. "It lives for less time than you or me can imagine," Lourenco told TPM. Scientists were only able to discover the new particle because of the imprint the particle leaves after it disappears, its decay signature.
Don't expect your kids to be learning about the neutral Xi_b^star baryon in their science books anytime soon. The particle is very rare, and can only exist on earth inside the Hadron Collider, or occasionally in space. Lourenco said to TPM, “It might get produced once in a while, when a high-energy cosmic ray collides with the moon, for instance."
The new discovery certainly isn't as sexy as the long sought-after Higgs Boson, the holy grail of particle discoveries (just don't call it the 'God particle') that scientists at CERN hope to finally nail down by the end of the year. The search for the Higgs Boson is the Large Hadron Collider's most high-profile goal. The neutral Xi_b^star baryon still justifies some celebration for the scientists, though. “It also justifies opening a bottle of champagne, if you need a justification for that,” Lourenco said to TPM. Cheers!
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.