Fermilab's Tevatron accelerator has been making some serious waves the last few months.
Back in May, I wrote about the latest results from the D-Zero collaboration, co-discovers of the top quark in the 1990s. The D-Zero scientists analyzed data from a bunch of proton-anti-proton collisions and found a 1 percent asymmetry in the number of muons produced compared to anti-muons.
That hinted at "a new particle not predicted by the Standard Model" — colorfully dubbed "the toe of god" by Fermilab scientist Joe Lykken.
And now the team is back with even more intriguing results to announce from their subsequent analysis, published on arVix. See, the Standard Model doesn't fully explain why this asymmetry between matter and antimatter should exist.
Yet, as Fermilab scientist Adam Martin pointed out to BBC News, "What's difficult is to have those large effects without damaging anything else we've already measured. The Standard Model fits just about every test we've thrown at it. To fit in a new effect in one particular place is not easy."
Nonetheless, theoretical physicists are pondering possible alternate explanations that would keep much of the Standard Model's framework intact while still offering a potential explanation of this latest experimental evidence.
And they've come up with a doozy: maybe there isn't just one Higgs boson (the as-yet-undiscovered subatomic particle believed to impart mass); maybe, instead, there are five different versions, with similar masses but different electric charges.
Yes, it's not enough that the Standard Model already has so many types of subatomic particles that it's impossible to keep them all straight without a handy cheat sheet.
Nevermind that the theory of supersymmetry would add countless more particles to the mix. Now we have to contend with five — count 'em, five! — Higgs bosons: three with a neutral charge and one each with a negative and positive charge, known as the "two-Higgs doublet model." Apparently this would account for the latest D-Zero results.
Along with many physicists, I hate the term "god particle" to describe the Higgs. Fermilab's Leon Lederman coined the term over a decade ago, and it's been misleading innocent civilians ever since into thinking physicists are trying to prove or disprove the existence of god or something.
But it did give the blog 80 Beats the best line yet about these new results: "If the Higgs boson is the God Particle, then some particle physicists just turned polytheistic."
I guess we'll have to wait and see the future uncovers.