As many of you know, I haven't been writing many articles lately for a variety of reasons both medical and technological. However there have been several articles in the media lately about this latest "discovery" in particle physics, and so I feel that a brief comment on it is necessary. Today's article represents my own opinions on this research.

For the last week the news media has been reporting on an announcement in particle physics, with the claim of a new particle being discovered. However in the avalanche of articles that have been written and published, the fact that the scientific community doubts this result has been downplayed.

A team of physicists in Hungary has been studying nuclear transitions in beryllium and other light nuclei, looking for patterns in their decays. The Standard Model of particle physics makes very precise predictions on the rate of such decays, and the angle between the photons that are emitted in the process. According to this new result, there is an excess of decays at one particular angle, indicating something new and previously unseen.

The inference made by this team is that there is a new particle of mass 17 MeV. (For comparison, this is less than one fiftieth of the mass of the proton). They claim that it is being produced in these nuclear transitions, and then immediately decaying again so that it was not observed before. And in fairness, since they have announced their results there have been some theories generated to explain such a particle.

The problem with this claim is that this particle has seemingly already been excluded by numerous other experiments over the past century. The energy levels necessary to produce this particle were accessible to the first generation of particle accelerators, and precision measurements of both nuclear and particle physics since that time should have easily detected its existence. And as yet, no explanations have been found for why this particle would elude all previous attempts to detect it.

There is another factor that needs to be considered as well. The same team who made this "discovery" and announcement has a history of claiming discoveries that are later disproven. And while it is true that some of the greatest scientific discoveries in history have been made by individuals who have questionable pasts, it is also true that a history of false discoveries indicates something wrong with the researchers ability to identify errors or statistical anomalies. 

Is it possible that this little known group of nuclear physicists has discovered a particle that has hidden from decades of high precious experiments around the world? Yes it is. 

Is it probable that high budget experiments employing thousands of the most brilliant scientific minds in the world missed something like this? No it is not.

And so while I would love to be proven wrong on this point, it is my opinion that this is false claim that is being promoted by the media and others, and has no scientific merit.

But I would certainly love to be wrong on this point :)