One great "bump" in data turned out to be a mere blip.

In December, the scientific world was left abuzz when a team of scientists working at CERN's Large Hadron Collider announced evidence of a potential new particle.

The fluctuation, which ran at an energy of 750 gigaelectronvolts (GeV), might have been six times greater than the famous Higgs Boson particle.

If proven, the discovery might have been considered an elementary particle that is not part of the Standard Model and might have cracked open a line between the known and the unknown.


However, hints of the new particle disappeared Friday, Aug. 5.

Physicists from two LHC teams — namely ATLAS and CMS — announced at the International Conference on High Energy Physics (ICHEP) in Chicago that as more and more data flooded in, the possibility of the new particle faded away.

"We don't see anything," says CMS spokesperson Tiziano Camporesi, adding that there was a small deficit even at the eve of the announcement.

Camporesi's statement was echoed by a member of the ATLAS team.

"As it stands now, the bumplet has gone into a flatline," says James Beacham.

Camporesi says the announcement was disappointing only because too much hype was built up about the new particle.

Still, he says that the LHC physicists have always been cautioned that the bump was possibly a fluke and that they've been "cool" about it.

Other scientists who attended the Chicago meeting tweeted their responses to CERN's announcement.

Particle physicist Brian Colquhoun says the two LHC teams both saw the production of two photons more often than expected.

Furthermore, although the experiment is a disappointment, it is not seen as a failure, says Themis Bowcock from the University of Liverpool.

Bowcock says the reason the supposed new particle caught a lot of excitement was because it did not easily fit into a lot of theories.

There was a lot of work in the past year of scientists coming up with models of what the bump in the data could be, he says.

CERN's presentations at the ICHEP were part of a torrent of papers from the two teams on the results from the LHC, which were all in agreement with the Standard Model.

Scientists say that the LHC, which had a difficult beginning, is running "swimmingly" and producing proton-proton collisions at a rate of billions per second.

CERN Director-General Fabiola Gianotti says scientists are just at the start of the journey.

Photo: Luigi Selmi | Flickr

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