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I Publications in Particle Physics

  1. Jun 23, 2017 #1
    Hello! I read several times that those at CERN observe a new particle with a precision of 3-3.5 sigma and overnight (more or less) hundreds of papers in theoretical physics appear explaining the role of that particle and all its physics implication and after a while CERN announces that there was actually no particle discovered and all these publications become meaningless. I was wondering how is this possible, like how can so many scientist can come up with a theory (and I assume they are solid both from a mathematical and physical point of view) about something that (in the end) doesn't even exist? Like isn't a flaw or something in the approach they use if they can so easily come up with something to fit the observations, even if it is wrong? Or how does this work?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 23, 2017 #2


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    We cannot derive the laws of the universe from first principles. We observe what is there and then we make theories describing that.
    There is a huge range of possible theories - and we need experiments to figure out which one fits to our universe.

    All these new theories that come up are possible. If they include a particle that turns out to not exist, it just means they are not how our universe looks like. We couldn't know that before we checked.

    Is it a good use of theorist time to write hundreds of papers for rather weak hints of potential new particles? That is a different question.
    One of the reasons for the flood of papers is the citation count: Get your paper out early and everyone will cite you. That can increase the chance to get a better position, for example. And then there is the remote chance that the particle turns out to actually exist and fit to your favorite model...
  4. Jun 23, 2017 #3

    Vanadium 50

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    Can you give us two or three examples?
  5. Jun 23, 2017 #4
    I can look for it if you want, although I don't remember the supposed particles and it is hard to find the articles. Here is one that I know about and as they say 500 papers were published based on a particle that proved to not exist.
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