The uncertainty of science: After years of analysis, physicists have refined their measurement of the mass of one important subatomic particle, and discovered that its weight violates the accepted standard model of particle physics, threatening to overthrow it entirely.
W bosons are elementary particles that carry the weak force, mediating nuclear processes like those at work in the Sun. According to the Standard Model, their mass is linked to the masses of the Higgs boson and a subatomic particle called the top quark. In a new study, almost 400 scientists on the Collider Detector at Fermilab (CDF) collaboration spent a decade examining 4.2 million W boson candidates collected from 26 years of data at the Tevatron collider. From this treasure trove, the team was able to calculate the mass of the W boson to within 0.01 percent, making it twice as precise as the previous best measurement.
By their calculations, the W boson has a mass of 80,433.5 Mega-electronvolts (MeV), with an uncertainty of just 9.4 MeV either side. That’s within the range of some previous measurements, but well outside that predicted by the Standard Model, which puts it at 80,357 MeV, give or take 6 MeV. That means the new value is off by a whopping seven standard deviations.
Further cementing the anomaly, the W boson mass was also recently measured using data from the Large Hadron Collider, in a paper published in January. That team came to a value of 80,354 MeV (+/- 32 MeV), which is comfortably close to that given by the Standard Model.
Personally, I always take this level of physics with a great deal of skepticism. The data involves a lot of assumptions and uncertainties. That other researchers came up with a different number illustrates this.
Nonetheless, these results could suggest that the standard model, the consensus theory for decades, is either incomplete, or wrong. The former would be more likely, but no possibility should be dismissed. And even if wrong, much of that model still works so well any new model must include large parts of it.
Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!
From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.
Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space
, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.
does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.
“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.
All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.
Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.