Published on June 19th, 2012 | by James Ayre


Cracks Appearing In The Standard Model Of Particle Physics

June 19th, 2012 by


Newly analyzed data from the ‘BaBar experiment’ suggests that there might be flaws in the Standard Model of particle physics, which is the accepted theory of how the universe works on subatomic scales.

The BaBar experiment is a high-energy physics experiment based at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. The new data shows that a specific type of particle decay called “B to D-star-tau-nu” is much more common than the Standard Model says it should be.

During this type of decay, a particle called the B-bar meson decays into a D meson, an antineutrino, and a tau lepton. “While the level of certainty of the excess (3.4 sigma in statistical language) is not enough to claim a break from the Standard Model, the results are a potential sign of something amiss and are likely to impact existing theories, including those attempting to deduce the properties of Higgs bosons.”

“The excess over the Standard Model prediction is exciting,” said BaBar spokesperson Michael Roney, professor at the University of Victoria in Canada. These results are much more sensitive than previously published studies analyzing these decays, said Roney. “But before we can claim an actual discovery, other experiments have to replicate it and rule out the possibility this isn’t just an unlikely statistical fluctuation.”


The BaBar experiment collected particle collision data from 1999 until 2008, and was designed to explore various unexplained aspects of particle physics. These included the question of why the universe contains matter but no antimatter. Data from the experiment helped confirm a theory on matter-antimatter interactions.

The data from BaBar is still being used by researchers to explore a variety of questions in particle physics. The data has actually more questions itself, particularly in regards to the Higgs Boson. The Higgs Boson is the theorized particle thought to give fundamental particles their mass. “Higgs bosons are predicted to interact more strongly with heavier particles — such as the B mesons, D mesons and tau leptons in the BaBar study — than with lighter ones, but the Higgs posited by the Standard Model can’t be involved in this decay.”

20120618-222317.jpg“If the excess decays shown are confirmed, it will be exciting to figure out what is causing it,” said BaBar physics coordinator Abner Soffer, associate professor at Tel Aviv University. Other theories involving new physics are waiting in the wings, but the BaBar results already rule out one important model called the ‘Two Higgs Doublet Model’.

“We hope our results will stimulate theoretical discussion about just what the data are telling us about new physics,” added Soffer.

The researchers are also hoping that their colleagues in the ‘Belles collaboration’, which researches the same kinds of particle collisions, might find something similar.

“If they do, the combined significance could be compelling enough to suggest how we can finally move beyond the Standard Model.” Roney said.

The research has just been submitted for publication in the journal Physical Review Letters.

Source: DOE/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
Image Credits: Greg Stewart, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, DOE/Brookhaven National Laboratory

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About the Author

's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.

  • UncleB

    One more very small step away form the 17th century internal combustion engine and towards the Age of the Electron, the 21st Asian owned century, then beyond to the stars.

  • Bruce Miller

    One more very small step away form the 17th century internal combustion engine and towards the Age of the Electron, the 21st Asian owned century, then beyond to the stars.

  • Sir Isaac Neutron

    @ G. Srinivasan: Space is clearly not a vacuum.

  • G Srinivasan

    The standard model evolved from an experimental base where the real factual substratum of space was summarily dismissed because it would not respond to experimental verification in the anticipated way. The identity of the quark spectrum is woefully short of the Planck mass that forms the core of quantum mechanics, Similarly the critical matter density in space (anticipated in general relativity) is
    impossible to accept because space MUST be a vacuum ! Moreover there are far to many anomalies with present model, which in itself prevents it being used as a final model that could predict meaningfully. Theoretical extrapolation is not possible from experiments that destroy what you are looking for. May I say that theoretically there are many ways to test finer particulate ststes that have a mass less than a photon but the process must depend on maths that doesn’t have the hierarchy disease built into it.
    Can Physics ever derive a logical sequence of particulate states starting from the critical matter density where the electromagnetic spectrum works below the quantum level to the Planck mass density as the source of blackhole phenomena? They cannot unless Physics makes a paradigm shift to base its algorithms on numerical axioms. The proof is given in an axiomatic theory on website http://sankhyakarika.webstarts
    http://sankhyakarika.webstarts…. The surprise is there space is defined, identified physically and shown to be in a perpetually dynamic oscillatory state forming the holographic foundation for all particulate states

    • Anadish Kumar Pal

      @ G. Srinivasan

      I am sorry but you are trying to push non-concrete propositions based on mythological verse, I’d say.

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