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Opinion: It took a sea and land journey to prove to scientists they were wrong about physics

April 7, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 25.5%. 2 min read.

On Wednesday, a scientific measurement, recorded by this apparatus, was publicly released. This may not sound like much, but this single measurement tells scientists that their theory about what is called the standard model of particle physics is incomplete -- and has to be rethought, writes Don Lincoln.

This may not sound like much, but this single measurement tells scientists that their theory about what is called the standard model of particle physics is incomplete -- and has to be rethought.

With this goal in mind, researchers are constantly returning to their data and checking to see if measurements and theories agree or disagree.

When a theory is shown to predict something other than what a valid measurement has revealed, scientists rethink their theory and adjust it.

What the standard model predicts -- and what this new measurement assesses -- are the magnetic properties of an ephemeral subatomic particle called a muon, which is very similar to the familiar electron, but with some differences.

So, over two decades ago, researchers working at the Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island, New York, conducted what is called the Muon g-2 (gee minus two) experiment.

These scientists measured how fast the muon actually precesses and the prediction from the standard model and measurement disagreed.

The disagreement between measured and predicted precession properties of muons could have meant that our best understanding of the subatomic world is overlooking something.

Not only do the prediction and new and improved measurement of the magnetic properties of muons still disagree, but the increased precision is even more suggestive that there is something important being overlooked in the standard model theory.

It is likely that the measurement using the entire data set will prove without a doubt that the best theory scientists have for the subatomic world -- one that has been tested and validated for over half a century -- is incomplete and will need recrafting.

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