Hadron Collider Finds New Bit of Cosmological Lego

By Gary Cutlack on at

The LHCb experiment team at the Large Hadron Collider says it's found a new group of particles, calling this batch the pentaquarks -- another previously hypothesised set of elements of the universe that has been confirmed as real by the clever Swiss pipers.

Seeing as we are unlikely to ever understand what it is, what it means, how it works or if it's really real and not just a joke, here's LHCb's Guy Wilkinson to explain why this is important news for science-minded people:

"The pentaquark is not just any new particle. It represents a way to aggregate quarks, namely the fundamental constituents of ordinary protons and neutrons, in a pattern that has never been observed before in over fifty years of experimental searches. Studying its properties may allow us to understand better how ordinary matter, the protons and neutrons from which we’re all made, is constituted."

If that's not straightforward enough, LHCb physicist Tomasz Skwarnicki breaks it down into layman's terms, explaining the findings with:

"Benefitting from the large data set provided by the LHC, and the excellent precision of our detector, we have examined all possibilities for these signals, and conclude that they can only be explained by pentaquark states. More precisely the states must be formed of two up quarks, one down quark, one charm quark and one anti-charm quark."

So that's that all perfectly clear. [CERN via BBC]