I wish to take this opportunity to say hello to all of my regular readers – some of whom still apparently labor under the impression that the scientific community sits atop this ivory tower, handing down “truth” for us to accept without question. While most of us with functioning brain cells tend to reject this notion, I thought I would point out yet another example of reality showing those who study it for a living that it still has a few things up its sleeve.
Supersymmetry, or SUSY, has gained popularity as a way to explain some of the inconsistencies in the traditional theory of subatomic physics known as the Standard Model. The new observation, reported at the Hadron Collider Physics conference in Kyoto, is not consistent with many of the most likely models of SUSY.
Supersymmetry theorises the existence of more massive versions of particles that have already been detected. Their existence would help explain why galaxies appear to rotate faster than the Standard Model would suggest. Physicists have speculated that as well as the particles we know about, galaxies contain invisible, undetected dark matter made up of super particles. The galaxies therefore contain more mass than we can detect and so spin faster.
Researchers at the LHCb detector have dealt a serious blow to this idea. They have measured the decay between a particle known as a Bs Meson into two particles known as muons. It is the first time that this decay has been observed and the team has calculated that for every billion times that the Bs Meson decays it only decays in this way three times. If superparticles were to exist the decay would happen far more often. This test is one of the “golden” tests for supersymmetry and it is one that on the face of it this hugely popular theory among physicists has failed.
That’s from the BBC article. If you didn’t follow that, the idea is that physicists have a theory that could help better explain why galaxies behave the way they do than the Standard Model, but it hinges on the existence of certain particles. If it were correct, we should be seeing them a lot more often in the debris when we smash atoms together with the Large Hadron Collider.
If you want the ELI5 version (“explained like I’m 5”), Reddit has delivered. For those who enjoy the feeling of their brain trying to climb out of their heads through one or both ears, here is the paper. Don’t say I never gave you anything.