When hundreds of physicists gathered on a Zoom call in late February to discuss their experiment’s results, none of them knew what they had found. Like doctors in a clinical trial, the researchers at the Muon g-2 experiment blinded their data, concealing a single variable that prevented them from being biased about or knowing—for years—what the information they were working with actually meant.
But when the data were unveiled over Zoom, the physicists knew the wait had been worth it: their results are further evidence that new physics is hiding in muons, the bulkier cousins of electrons. “That was the point at which we knew the results. Until then we had no idea,” says Rebecca Chislett, a physicist at University College London, who is part of the Muon g-2 collaboration. “It was exciting and nerve-wracking and a bit of a relief.”
Despite its remarkable success in explaining the fundamental particles and forces that make up the universe, the Standard Model’s description remains woefully incomplete. It does not account for gravity, for one thing, and it is similarly silent about the nature of dark matter, dark energy and neutrino masses. To explain these phenomena and more, researchers have been hunting for new physics—physics beyond the Standard Model—by looking for anomalies in which experimental results diverge from theoretical predictions.
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