Thursday, April 22, 2021

Muon g - 2 Wobble

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Nature of Science, History of Science

Ed Hessler 

Recent news includes headlines, not front and center but of sensational claims such as "'Strong' evidence for a new force of nature," "Tiny particle could upend the laws of physics." 

The electron's cousin, the muon is creating all the excitement and pronouncements of a new physics. Muon's are massive compared to the electron and unlike the electron unstable.

An experiment, the Muon g - 2 experiment, supports a finding first announced in 2001 that showed one of its properties is slightly larger than theory had predicted, making it wobble as it speeds around a magnetized ring. The work was conducted at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory near Chicago..

However, unless you are a theoretician understanding this and what was found is not armchair reading. So when in doubt turn to a comic. Jorge Cham, aka PHD Comics illustrates and explains the excitement about this anomaly. He made this comic for the American Physical Society's journal Physics. The British journal Nature has an article about this finding which is a bit more demanding but delves deeper into the reported finding, too. If the data withstands scrutiny is will be important for it will change the so-called standard models of physics which to date "has passed all tests and has survived almost unchanged." 

And Natalie Wolchover, who writes with insight about the often strange goings on in the world of theoretical physics for Quanta has an even longer, deeper article with illustrations and charts that further enlighten readers. The title includes important words: "finds evidence for unknown particles." These resonate with me.

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