Ask Ethan: Does The Measurement Of The Muon’s Magnetic Moment Break The Standard Model?
“[There’s a notable] difference between theory and experiment [for the muon’s magnetic moment]. Is the fact that the [uncertainties are large] more meaningful than the >3 sigma significance calculation? The Mercury precession must have a very small sigma, but is cited as a big proof of relativity. What is a good measure of significance for new physics results?”
Whenever theoretical predictions and experimental results disagree, that’s surely a sign of something interesting. If we’re extremely lucky, it might be a sign of new fundamental physics, which could mean new laws of nature, new particles, new fields, or new interactions. Any of these would be revolutionary, and certainly it’s the great hope of anyone who works on these projects: to peel back the curtain of reality and find the next layer inside. But there are two other possibilities, far more conservative and mundane, that must be ruled out first. One is an error, either on the theoretical or experimental side, that has simply been overlooked. The other is even more subtle, though: an effect from a known physical cause that’s at the heart of this discrepancy, which we haven’t thought we needed to include until now.
The muon’s anomalous magnetic moment might be a harbinger of new physics. But it might also be a subtle effect of gravity that’s appearing for the first time. Come look at the evidence and see for yourself!
Five Discoveries In Fundamental Physics That Came As Total Surprises
“It was quite the most incredible event that has ever happened to me in my life. It was almost as incredible as if you fired a 15-inch shell at a piece of tissue paper and it came back and hit you.”
It’s often said that advanced in physics aren’t met with “eureka!” but rather with “that’s funny,” but the truth is even stranger sometimes. Rather than the scientific method of: hypothesis, method, experiment, results, conclusion, revise, repeat, etc., many times throughout history, it’s been a series of surprise observations that have often led to our greatest leaps forward. When the speed of light was discovered not to differ when you moved with or against it, it was so revolutionary it was the only Nobel Prize ever awarded for a null result. When the gold foil experiment resulted in high-energy recoils, it surprised Rutherford so thoroughly it was the most incredible thing to ever happen to him in his life. The leftover glow from the Big Bang was discovered quite by accident; the neutrino was a crazy hypothesis that many abandoned; and the discovery of the muon, perhaps the most unexpected particle of all, literally was met with a cry of, “who ordered that?” from Nobel Laureate I.I. Rabi.
These five discoveries changed the course of physics forever, but they came as total surprises to practically everyone. Sometimes, the answer is in the place you least expect.
How To Prove Einstein’s Relativity For Less Than $100
“But the fact that you can see cosmic ray muons at all is enough to prove that relativity is real. Think about where these muons are created: high in the upper atmosphere, about 30-to-100 kilometers above Earth’s surface. Think about how long a muon lives: about 2.2 microseconds on average. And think about the speed limit of the Universe: the speed of light, or about 300,000 kilometers per second. If you have something moving at the speed of light that only lives 2.2 microseconds, it should make it only 0.66 kilometers before decaying away. With that mean lifetime, less than 1-in-10^50 muons should reach the surface. But in reality, almost all of them make it down.”
Relativity, or the idea that space and time are not absolute, was one of the most revolutionary and counterintuitive scientific theories to come out of the 20th century. It was also one of the most disputed, with hundreds of scientists refusing to accept it. Yet with less than $100 and a single day’s worth of labor, there’s a way you can prove it to yourself: by building a cloud chamber. An old fishtank, some 100% ethyl or isopropyl alcohol, a metal base with dry ice beneath it and only a few other steps (see the full article for instructions) will allow you to construct a detector capable of seeing unstable cosmic particles. Yet these particles – and you’ll see about 1-per-second – would never reach Earth’s surface if it weren’t for relativity!
Come learn how you can validate Einstein’s first great revolution all for yourself, and silence the doubts in your mind. Nature really is this weird!