Physicists at the Tevatron particle accelerator at Fermilab have discovered a strange new signal emerging from proton – anti-proton collisions that is unlike anything seen before. It could be a new kind of particle — and with it, possibly a new kind of fundamental force — or it could be a statistical blip. While the community is excited about the discovery, many physicists are understandably reserved about it until the result is replicated with the Large Hadron Collider.
Whatever it is, the signal is not consistent with a Higgs boson, the elusive “God particle” posited to explain why certain particles have mass. In fact, nobody seems to know what it could possibly be — music to a theorist’s ears. The last major particle discovery made at Fermilab was in 1995 with the top quark, whose existence (together with the bottom quark) was predicted to exist by physicists in 1973.