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At the smallest scales, everything in the universe can be broken down into fundamental morsels called particles. The Standard Model of particle physics—the reigning theory of these morsels—describes a small collection of known species that combine in myriad ways to build the matter around us and carry the forces of nature. Yet physicists know that these particles cannot be all there is—they do not account for the dark matter or dark energy that seem to contribute much of the universe’s mass, for example. Now two experiments have observed particles misbehaving in ways not predicted by any known laws of physics, potentially suggesting the existence of some new type of particle beyond the standard zoo. The results are not fully confirmed yet, but the fact that two experiments colliding different types of particles have seen a similar effect, and that hints of this behavior also showed up in 2012 at a third particle collider, has many physicists animated. “It’s really bizarre,” says Mark Wise, a theorist at the California Institute of Technology who was not involved in the experiments. “The discrepancy is large and it seems like it’s on very sound footing. It’s probably the strongest, most enduring deviation we’ve seen from the Standard Model.” Finding such a crack in the Standard Model is exciting because it suggests a potential path toward expanding the model beyond those particles currently known.

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