More news from the particle physics community with the announcement by physicists at the Large Hadron Collider that they have produced and detected two new particles which have never been seen before. (It should be noted though that these particles have existed before in nature, produced by high energy cosmic rays in the atmosphere, but they decay too quickly to be observed and studied)

However before the news media starts writing headlines, it should also be made clear that this is a minor announcement compared to the Higgs two years ago, and is not going to lead to Nobel Prizes. This is the sort of discovery that only particle physicists get excited about.

According to the Standard Model of particle physics, all forms of matter we are familiar with are composed of molecules, which are composed of atoms, which are composed of protons and neutrons, which are composed of fundamental particles called quarks. These quarks only appear in nature as pairs or triplets, referred to as mesons and baryons respectively.

With six quarks, there are 216 possible baryons. Including the possibility that the quarks are in different orbits of each other leads to far more possible baryons.

What the LHC announced today was the discovery of two of the heavier and more exotic baryons, which had not been seen before. It doesn't seem like a huge discovery, especially since physicists discover about three or four of these every year, but it provides data on the properties of two more baryons. And that data, in the hands of theorists such as myself, could be used to test models of quark bound states and to improve our understanding of the strong nuclear forces.

It may not lead to a paradigm shift in physics, but it might just help us to build theories that do.