back to article What's this about a muon experiment potentially upending Standard Model of physics? We speak to one of the scientists involved

Physicists are this week giddy with excitement after a decade-long experiment looking at the inner-workings of a muon, a type of particle similar to the electron, hints that there may be another fundamental particle or force waiting to be discovered. The Muon g-2 experiment, spun up at the US Department of Energy’s Fermi …

  1. Denarius Silver badge


    as Asimov said, discoveries happen when a scientist says "That's odd" Something for the real researchers to study to confirm it is a reliable result and ponder possible causes. About time something new appeared in Standard Model

    1. HelpfulJohn

      Re: wonderful

      "as Asimov said, discoveries happen when a scientist says "That's odd" ... "

      The four-books of "The Skylark Series" begin with a scientist watching the odd result of an experiment and ends with that result taking him on intergalactic journeys that affect the destinies of thousands of species.

      The effect he notices is tiny, the ensuing New Physics is astonishingly profound and powerful.

      No, I don't expect a Seaton moment from the muons, these things rarely turn out to be anything useful but it is nice to dream.

      1. Persona Silver badge

        Re: wonderful

        Better be cautions and not experiment with more than a teaspoon full of this stuff.

        Good old E. E. "Doc" Smith.

  2. swm Silver badge

    Lattice Calculations

    However the lattice calculations are in line with this current result.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Lattice Calculations

      Is this one of the alternative theoretical SM calculations?

      If it is then it's perhaps worth saying in easier words: one of the things the article doesn't say is that the theoretical calculation of these values is extremely hard. And in particular there are several ways to do this calculation, and at least one of them results in a value which is consistent with this experimental value. So this may not doom the SM.

  3. Derek Jones

    Particle physicist touting for funding

    The Large Hadron Collider did not find any new physics, despite all the claims that it find lots of interesting new physics. Now physicists are desperately talking up minor issues to make it sound like exciting discoveries will be made, provided they get funded.

    A more detailed discussion of the 'discovery':

    See Sabine Hossenfelder's book: Lost in Maths, for an explanation of how particle physicists have lost connection with reality, and are still asking for huge projects to be funded.

    1. RegGuy1 Silver badge

      Re: Particle physicist touting for funding

      We could have put more money into the LHC but decided[1] it would be better spent on Test and Trace.

      [1] Well Dido decided.

      1. HelpfulJohn

        Re: Particle physicist touting for funding

        Well, TaT did "save lives" and "protect the Nation" so it was definitely a worthwhile endeavour and a genuinely wise use of the treasure committed to it.

    2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: Particle physicist touting for funding

      I came looking for the obligatory "I don't understand it, therefore it can't be important" post. I didn't expect to find it this close to the top.

      It just goes to show that those with the least informed opinions like to shout them out the loudest.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Particle physicist touting for funding

        maybe a question for FB. Give all the hair a beauty covid experts a crack at this, I mean how difficult can it be!

    3. tiggity Silver badge

      Re: Particle physicist touting for funding

      Depends what you call "new physics" - it has essentially proven the Higgs boson which was part of the standard model but never observed so could argue that's "new"

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: Particle physicist touting for funding

        We just need to crank the power up a bit before we get Vortigaunts and headcrabs.

        Where did I put my crowbar?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not a scientist

    At all, but we try to manipulate atoms we don't know or have seen, what happens if we manipulate atoms of known items? Lets fire some cheese round the collider. Throw in some toast and we are all golden.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Not a scientist

      A croque muonsieur?

    2. jonathan keith

      Re: Not a scientist

      I'd love to see Chaesium (Ch) in its rightful place on the Periodic Table!

      1. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: Not a scientist

        Chaesium! Would that be in the same group as Cheddarium and Stiltonium?

        1. boblongii

          Re: Not a scientist

          Stiltonium is an unstable trans-edible member of the group.

        2. TheRealRoland
          Thumb Up

          Re: Not a scientist

          All first discovered by Y. Wensleydale and his team? Crackers, that.

        3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Not a scientist


          I think you mean Cheddite, as discovered by Harry Harrison, used for turning a Boeing 747 into a hyperspace jumping spaceship.

        4. HelpfulJohn

          Re: Not a scientist


          Just "NO!"

          We already have six elements named after a tiny village somewhere in the wild woods of Yurp and a whole bunch being named for research institutes and scientists. We don't need to clog up the minds of future generations with piles of themed elements just because their distant, primitive ancestors thought it would be funny.

          And, no, a theme of "FaceTwitium", "Googlonium" and "Applium" should never be allowed, either.

          "Helium" was cool as a name. We need element names that are independent of the local, the personal and the currently famous.

          "Technetium" is a good name as is "Copper" but "Wensleydalium" would be ...... unfortunate.

          "Worcestershireium"? For when we run out of cheeses? Though, if we start on the list of French ones, that would be around element number eight hundred-odd.

    3. WonkoTheSane

      Re: Not a scientist

      That way leads to the Cheddite Projector of the "Star Smashers of the Galaxy Rangers"

  5. RM Myers

    Very Interesting

    My flirtation with physics as a possible profession was very brief, math was much easier for me and IT paid better, but the incredible precision of these experiments is still amazing to me. Good stuff all around.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Very Interesting

      I read about stuff like this and start to get a really strong desire to do a physics degree. Just for the sheer fascination of it.

  6. Richard Boyce

    Electrons or positrons?

    There is confusion about whether the experiment is using normal matter muons which decay into electrons, or antimatter muons which decay into positrons.

    Here's one government source:

    Here are two mutually-contradictory pages from Fermilab's site for the experiment:

    Can anyone help?

    Scientists are keen to find differences in the way antimatter behaves from normal matter. I wonder what the result would be if they used the opposite type of muon....

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Pretty sure it's positrons

      We've thought about this. The muons decay into electrons or positrons:

      In the case of the muon g-2 experiment, though, they're looking out for positrons specifically:

      Pretty much all the academic writing we've seen on the experiment talks about observing positrons. The hardware is set up to observe the positrons.

      And it doesn't help that some of the Fermi Lab material refers to electrons at times when talking about muon decay.


    2. navidier

      Re: Electrons or positrons?

      Yes, they use antimatter, or positive, muons. The normal (negative) muon decays into an electron and two neutrinos, the positive kind decay into a positron and two neutrinos ( I worked in muon physics/chemistry for nearly two decades, and it's common to use just muon for either flavour, and often electron for positron, the actual charge being inferred by the context. Note that the muon actually originates from a (positive) pion produced in the original proton collision (normally with a light material such as carbon or beryllium) which then decays in flight with lifetime of 25 ns. By carefully selecting the momentum of the pion with a dipole magnet, and then selecting the momentum of the muon with another dipole after the decay section, you can arrive at a beam of highly-polarised muons with their spin either in the forward direction or the backward direction.

      Positive muons are usually preferred for these kinds of experiments because the negative muons and pions behave as heavy electrons, and can be captured into atomic orbits by material.

      1. MiguelC Silver badge

        Re: Electrons or positrons?

        An that's why I religiously pay my subscription to ElReg forums!

        Have one

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Electrons or positrons?

          I know, right? "I worked in muon physics/chemistry for nearly two decades." just thrown in casually.

          I worked for nearly two decades changing printer toner and failing to explain what a file system is.

          But I've worked out what the fifth force of nature is. It must be love. Love is the best. You can isolate yourself from it down a deep mineshaft inside a Faraday cage.

          1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: Electrons or positrons?

            "I worked in muon physics/chemistry for nearly two decades." just thrown in casually.

            Indeed. Not the sort of thing I regularly see in Facebook comments.

            (Not that I read many Facebook comments, it's true, so this is not a statistically-sound observation. And I admit that in the previous month I saw at least one comment on Facebook which was posted by someone with detailed technical knowledge of the subject, so it does happen. But still.)

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Electrons or positrons?

              now HANG ON A MINUTE, there are loads of SME's on FB, normally with a NVQ level 2 in hair and beauty or childcare that are helping to solve the covid pandamic

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Douglas Adams

    "There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable."

    1. ClockworkOwl

      Re: Douglas Adams

      There's another theory that this has already happened...

      1. Julz Silver badge

        Re: Douglas Adams


    2. WonkoTheSane
      Thumb Up

      Re: Douglas Adams

      Just been listening to the first couple of episodes, in an effort to get away from the depressing radio broadcasts of the afternoon (and coming weeks!). I shall attempt to pipe the next couple through my phone to the car radio on my way home.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Douglas Adams

        yes, the answer for Douglas Adams was 42, in the US it is 4:20 - and legal in many areas now.

        1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

          Re: Douglas Adams

          LOL, "Time is an illusion ..."

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Douglas Adams

      ...и ведь возразить-то нечего, вот в чём штука! :))

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Penny in the air?

    Particle K1 interacts with Photon P1 which then interacts with particle K2. Examine the circular polarization case and realize the interactions between light and matter are oscillatory, thus the indirect interaction K1 to K2 is also oscillatory.

    Therefore you've never seen a particle, you've only ever seen the net interaction between those two (or more) oscillations.

    You know those particles that apparently travel backwards in time? Nope! Kind of ridiculous right? Claiming a particle travels backwards in time?

    You're examining oscillating matter by testing it against oscillating matter, and get a load of 'constants', stuff apparently traveling backwards in time, and weird little wobbles that need a fixup, or a new force, as in here.

    Constants like the speed of light...

    See that X-Ray? It's oscillating at 10^Big - 10^16 which is ~ 10^Big near as dammit

    See that Infrared? It's oscillating at 10^Big - 10^12 which is ~ 10^Big nears as dammit.

    Now realize why light travels at an apparent 'constant' 'velocity' yet somehow changing the *observer's* velocity relative to it, makes such a huge difference to its frequency. In reality it doesn't, light is, as near as dammit 10^Big, the universes underlying oscillating pattern.

    You could/have invented a complex model of a magical particle, the photon, assume its properties all travel with it, putting those properties solely as a property of a 'photon' particle. But then you'd notice a lot of repeating patterns which shouldn't occur. Entanglement, Quantum Teleportation....

    That's not a spin, is a net effect of two oscillations {o1, o2}. That's not a EM wave its the net effect of 3 oscillations {o1,o3,o4}. That's not a waddle its a net effect of 3 oscillations {o2,o3,o4}. If I filter particles with the same spin and EM wave, I am pinning down the underlying oscillations that make up the waddle. As if by magic my two 'entangled' particles have the same waddle! Spooky distance effect? No! Filtering! not entanglement, not quantum teleportation, filtering!

    Examine the 0Hz EM frequency case, to impart zero energy to a field, it would have to oscillating *with* the field. i.e. limit case as EM frequency goes to zero, so the actual frequency of light *increases* to be nearer the local resonant oscillation. You can play with this to prove the electron must also be oscillating too. And that electric as you know it must be an oscillating force. Magnetic, with its fixed relationship to electric must be oscillating too, a harmonic, or other resonant component. Make Particle K1 from the opening paragraph an electron and realize electric is an oscillating force.

    Realize what you're looking at.

    1. GrumpenKraut

      Re: Penny in the air?

      Hello electric universe crank!

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Penny in the air?

        Yay! Any online forum without its stable of regular kooks is a poor one.

        A comments forum for a Reg particle-physics article will decay into an Electric Universe thread within 100 posts.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Penny in the air?

      Wow - and here was I worried that long Covid had damaged my neurological and cognitive function. Thanks AC! Nobody is 'insulting' you by the way, you are just literally insane.

      It turns out that I'm still sane, probably just lost ten or so IQ points. Maybe I can get a promotion to manglement when I return to work ... ?

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Penny in the air?

        "Maybe I can get a promotion to manglement when I return to work ... ?"

        No, you need to do more work on your IQ.

    3. steelpillow Silver badge

      Re: Penny in the air?

      "With such a splendid thesis as that, any fallacy committed by the author becomes insignificant." — Jorge Luis Borges (English translation, 1964)

    4. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      Re: Penny in the air?

      Realize what you're looking at.

      A comment made of taurostercean matter.

    5. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: Penny in the air?

      I also came here to find the obligatory, "I have my own crackpot Grand Unifed Theory" post.

      Why, hello there.

    6. AndrueC Silver badge

      Re: Penny in the air?

      Never have my cods been so walloped.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Your insult aside.

    You've never had a particle go backwards in time.

    You don't set properties by observing them.

    You've never "teleported properties", across an extra dimension, or otherwise, faster than light from one photon to another, by observing one.

    You just smoked too much math, and couldn't see the basic fault:

    Schroedinger is an approximate model of the net effect. It is *not* the definition of matter, just an approximation to the observed effects. All those math proofs of impossible magical things you derived from it, they're not proofs, and the underlying system is not magical.

    1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

      Re: @GrumpenKraut

      Quantum theory is just that - a theory. So far it fits all the experimental evidence that scientists have found, so it's far from an approximation. For example, the Schrodinger equation exactly - not approximately - predicts "impossible magical" quantum tunnelling whereby electrons can move from one conduction band to another without having enough energy to get over the energy barrier between those bands - and we have real tunnel diodes which use the effect.

      1. GrumpenKraut

        Re: @GrumpenKraut

        I was tempted to say "you are talking to a brick" but it is actually worse. Just let his last paragraph sink in.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @GrumpenKraut

          Yeh let the last paragraph sink in.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @GrumpenKraut

        It's a model fitted to the particles as if the properties are all properties of the particle, but they're not.

        It has more forces than exist at the higher level.

        In effect you tried to understand the complexity of the universe and ended up with a *more* complex subatomic model, with more forces, and various violations of causal logic. time and magic constants everywhere, extra claimed dimensions connecting things that exist only to fixup the model. Things that only exist at this lower level and disappear otherwise.

        2 things result in 4 combinations, 3 things result in 8 combinations, the underpinnings of a model must be simpler than the higher levels of a model. The subatomic must necessarily be simpler than the layers above to make the end complexity, not more complex and somehow that complexity disappearing.

        Adding another force, and asserting it is fundamental, and it will magically disappear at higher scale is not the fix up here, the fixup is to recognize the mistake.

        It's funny that you list "quantum tunnelling" as if it was a magical thing. Yet you detect the electron moving around, so the electron has no size, it's apparent size comes from that motion. What barrier do you imagine it is passing through if the tunnel is made of things without size?

        1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Re: @GrumpenKraut

          the underpinnings of a model must be simpler than the higher levels of a model.

          I can show you some nice intuitive UIs and the code that underpins them as a proof-by-example of the falseness of that hypothesis.

          Hell, your argument is akin to saying the workings of a clock must be simpler than the clock face.

          You really have some more thinking to do if you believe that, just because you can't see something, it must be simpler than the things you can see. Reality isn't a computer game, where if you clip through the surface there is nothing underneath.

          1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: @GrumpenKraut

            Electric Universe is a beautiful network of fallacies and misunderstandings. As a piece of kookery it finds a sweet spot that's comfortably outside reason without degenerating into the incoherence of Timecube or the "to hell with science, let's have fairy stories" lunacy of Inert Gas Devices.

            This axiom ("the underpinnings of a model...") is a fine example of that: let's just take an intuitive assumption and elevate it to a law, then employ it in our logic system. What could go wrong?

            Proof by Vehement Restatement is a good epistemological technique too, endorsed by kooks the world over.

    2. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: @GrumpenKraut

      "You just smoked too much math, and couldn't see the basic fault:"

      Curious to know what your preference is for smoking and the device you use to smoke it?

      Assumption and random correlation is not science and mind expanding drugs don't!

  10. Mike 137 Silver badge

    Ultimately inevitable, but nice

    There are bound to be forces/phenomena in the universe that we haven't accounted for yet. We've only been at it for a couple of hundred orbits round the sun, the universe is vast, and we're always limited in what we can observe. Finding a new one (or even suspecting it on the basis of evidence) is what science is all about. Not without good reason did Shakespeare give Hamlet the words "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy" (Hamlet, Act I, Scene 5).

    And in response to Derek Jones, this work is quite different from the purely mathematical stuff (such as string theory) the reality of which may indeed be open to question, in that it is based on observations of what actually seems to be happening.

  11. Headley_Grange Silver badge

    Minor Update

    I think this is due to a minor update - probably to fix a security issue - to the software simulation that we all exist in. There might be another one soon to fix it.

    1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      Re: Minor Update

      the software simulation that we all exist in

      Lately it's felt a lot like malware.

    2. You aint sin me, roit


      We're getting close to the current granularity of the simulation. They probably added some RAM and made a few tweaks to keep it going a bit longer.

    3. ClockworkOwl

      Re: Minor Update

      We appologise for the inconvenience...

      (Clearly in dire need of a lemon soaked, paper napkin)>

    4. AndrueC Silver badge
  12. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    A Universal Virtual Force for Immaculately Resourced Assets on Titanic AI Missionary Operations.

    Such as you read there in that title, and what you can further read here in this comment responding to that which you are able to read in the Katyanna Quach article there on El Reg, "What's this about a muon experiment potentially upending Standard Model of physics? We speak to one of the scientists involved" is definitely more Holywood Palace Barracks than Hollywood Studios centric whilst also being Hollywood blockbuster movie franchise type materiel for Titanic Studious Productions.

    More than it is wise to fully disclose is learned whenever decades of politically incorrect and intellectually inept and corrupt paramilitary conflict are considered as a price well worth paying to enslave and confine the masses to servering an ancient rotten conventional system rather than proposing engagement with anything else enabled to champion and driver novel improvements energising and exercising beta-testing replacements.

    You might like to realise that as an ACTive Parallel in a JOINT AIdVenture rather than just an Alienating Intervention.

    It cannot be entirely unexpected, and especially so whenever one is aware of such as was said earlier on El Reg .....

    Certainly stranger things have happened and be happening given the crazy virtual nature of semi-permanent physicalised existence which may be better mastered if realised as easily delivered due to the crazy physicalised nature of semi-permanent virtual existence ….. where and when advanced intelligence and astute imaginanation rule the roost and driver the future. ...... Swinging Gangbang Style

    Dark Matter Meets Dark Forces ...... on a Singularity of Future Greater IntelAIgent Games Purpose ‽ .

    Now that would be truly AWEome in Deed

  13. Torben Mogensen

    Connection to new Dark Matter model?

    Researchers at the University of Copenhagen recently released a theoretical study where they replace Dark Energy with adding magnetic-like properties to Dark Matter. It would be interesting (though highly unlikely) if the observed muon magnetic anomaly was related to this.

  14. Steve Button Silver badge

    But does this mean I can have my flying car?

    OR more to the point, can I have a hoverboard?

    I mean, it's 2021 FFS.

    1. Conundrum1885

      Re: But does this mean I can have my flying car?

      Working on it.

      The main snag is that I did find a way to repel off a surface similar to a ground effect but using ions, in a helium atmosphere though the main problem is that the required very thin uniform HOPG isn't easy to make and it still needs >10KV and an alpha emitting radioisotope or £xp£n$ive hard to obtain deep UV LEDs to generate enough of an ion current.

      Fusing smaller pieces together under methane at high pressure *might* work if I used a laser or DBD but theproblem is getting sufficiently uniform starting material in the first place.

  15. DS999 Silver badge

    Possibly related to neutrino oscillation?

    That's another lepton thing the standard model can't explain, perhaps they are both interacting with the same fifth force or dark matter or whatever?

  16. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge

      Re: Why not...

      Because they'll post their response on the wrong story?

      1. jason_derp Silver badge

        Re: Why not...


  17. Zolko Silver badge


    "measuring 50 feet across"

    you must be kidding: how much is that in gummy-bears ? Or any other TRU (True Reg Units) ?

  18. Kev99 Silver badge

    One question I've had since I got my Life Science Library book "Matter". It included pictures of the tracks made by particles in a particle accelerator. To me, most of the tracks looked identical even though the editors said they represented newly discovered elements or elements with fractional half-lifes. So my question is, "Are they really finding new particles or are they just making chips off the old block? Chips lick you'd get from crushing an ice cube or rock. Funny thing, I've posed this question to MIT, Stanford, Science magazine, Scientific American, and who knows how many other publications. I even queried Dr. Hawkins and he was the only one who even acknowledged my query, let alone answer. And his answer was the experiments indicated the existence of new particles. Not that new particles were being created or discovered. Just indicated. Hmmm...Makes one wonder.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      They were discovering new particles. In particular let's think about muons, which were discovered just before the second war. We know that common-or-garden matter is made of protons (unit positive charge, heavy), neutrons (no charge, heavy) and electrons (unit negative charge, light). But then we start seeing particles which are both heavy (much heavier than electrons, but lighter than protons and neutrons) and have unit negative charge. Well, these must necessarily be new particles: they can't be fragments of electrons because they are more massive than electrons, and they can't be fragments of protons because they have the wrong charge.

      Even more convincingly, perhaps, you can do experiments where you, for instance, fire electrons (light) and positrons (also light) at each other and get a great shower of particles which are much more massive than either particle you started with. These can't be fragments of those particles in any useful sense: they're newly-made things that got created from the energy of the collision. This particular experiment is what LEP, the predecessor of LHC, did.

      Disclaimer: I'm not a particle physicist, my understanding of this is very small.

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