Before getting to the new exciting physics, I want to mention my speaking tours:


1) Northern California, April 25 through 28 , visiting Monterey (4/25 noon), Alameda (4/26 noon), Concord (4/26 7pm), and Santa Clara (4/28 noon).

2) Palm Springs,  May 13

3) Phoenix area, May 16 through 20


If you wish to come to any of these events, please contact me by email and I will arrange an invitation.

More information is available on my website:


Newsletter: Doomed U.S. Lab Announces Its Last Major Discovery

In my March 5th newsletter, I noted with great disappointment that the U.S. Government announced the closure of the last American particle accelerator, thus conceding world-leadership in cutting-edge physics. The Tevatron at Fermi National Lab is scheduled to be shut down in September.


For decades the Tevatron was the world’s preeminent high-energy physics research facility and the site of most of the major discoveries that advanced particle physics. With the last three U.S. presidents unwilling to continue supporting such research, it now seems likely the Tevatron will be America’s high-water mark in fundamental physics.


But, even as the focus of cutting-edge physics shifts to Europe, the Tevatron may uncover one last spectacular discovery.


This month, the “CDF” group at Fermi Lab announced the discovery of something totally unexpected—the very best kind of new scientific discovery. CDF found a new particle with a mass-energy of 144 GeV, over 150 times more massive than a proton. One such particle is almost as massive as an entire atom of tungsten. And they didn’t just see one of these new particles; they found over 250 of them. It is even possible that the particle is a boson and the carrier of a new force of nature.


In the graph below, the red line indicates what is expected from all known physics (W and Z bosons) and the blue line highlights the extra “events” from decays of the new particles. The odds that these events are statistical flukes are computed to be 1 in 1300.




Blue hump indicates 253 detected newly discovered particles.

Red line indicates events from currently known W and Z bosons.


The data and the analysis presented in their scientific paper are highly convincing, in my opinion. While physicists always want more data (who wouldn’t), many previous breakthrough discoveries were announced with far weaker evidence.


The CDF group says that the production rate of these new particles is far too high to be the long-sought Higgs boson. Physicists quote the ease of making any type of particle in terms of “barns”—the analogy being that it is easier to hit a big target than a small one. A uranium atom is the biggest imaginable target for a particle physicist, so that is said to be 1 barn—anyone can hit the broad side of a uranium atom. A square one trillionth of an inch on each side is over 6 barns, positively humongous. For these new particles, CDF says the target size is 4 trillionth of a barn, whereas theory predicts the Higgs is 300 times harder to produce. Either the Higgs theory needs revision or CDF has found something totally unexpected and beyond the Standard Model of particle physics.


Since the CDF announcement, theoretical physicists have been frantically publishing new theories and revising old ones; at least one new conjecture is coming out every day. The new idea I like best is that the new particle (named X, in an act devoid of originality) is the force-carrying boson of a new fifth force of nature (the known four forces are gravity, electromagnetism, strong nuclear, and weak) that links normal matter to dark matter. If so, the machine the U.S. Government decided wasn’t worth keeping will have made the most important discovery in particle physics in at least 40 years.


As a study in the evolution of particle physics, it’s interesting to compare the scope of the CDF (Collider Detector FermiLab) effort with my own thesis experiment 40 years ago, both of which are typical of their times. Eight physicists contributed to my 1971 experiment, which took about 4 years to complete. CDF has nearly 500 physicists from nearly 100 universities and 17 countries; it has been ongoing for 16 years. The CDF detector weighs 5000 tons and exceeds 40 feet in height, length, and depth. A portion of this device is shown in the image below.


I am thrilled that Fermi Lab’s Tevatron has defied its detractors and instead of going out with a whimper, has given science one more great bang.


Partial view of CDF detector at Fermi Lab Tevatron.


My thanks to Richard Conn Henry and Bill Kraham for sending me the CDF report.





Dr. Robert Piccioni
Author of "Everyone's Guide to Atoms, Einstein, and the Universe"
and "Can Life Be Merely An Accident?"