Category: it takes more than one unconfirmed experiment to get you a Nobel Prize

This Is Why The ‘X17’ Particle And A New, Fifth Force Probably Don’t Exist

“You cannot be afraid to make a mistake in science, but you must be aware that mistakes are common, can come from unexpected sources, and — as a responsible scientist — our job is not to sensationalize our most wishful thinking about what might be true, but to subject it to the most careful, skeptical scrutiny we can muster. Only with that mindset can we responsibly take a look at the experimental evidence in question.

If we want to give these new results a proper analysis, we need to make sure we’re asking the right questions. How was the experiment set up? What was the raw data? How was the analysis of the data performed? Was it verified independently? Is this data consistent with all the other data we’ve taken? What are the plausible theoretical interpretations, and how confident are we they’re correct? And finally, if it all holds up, how can we verify whether this really is a new particle with a new force?”

If you’ve been around the particle physics block before, there’s a lesson you should have learned by now: your default assumption should be that the Standard Model is correct. If an experiment contradicts what the Standard Model predicts, you should immediately be spending your energy wondering what’s wrong with the experiment, not leaping to fantastic, speculative conclusions about all of physics being wrong.

What should you make about the Atomki Anomaly, the X17 particle, and the idea of a new, fundamental force? To say “be skeptical” is a gross understatement. Get the story today.