Fermilab may have found a brand new elementary particle. The Illinois lab will today announce a strange blip in its data that could represent either a new, unexpected form of the fabled Higgs boson particle, or some entirely new force of nature, the New York Times reports. “Nobody knows what this is,” says one Fermilab theorist who wasn’t on the team. “If it is real, it would be the most significant discovery in physics in half a century.”
The blip could be evidence of a new fundamental force, like gravity or electromagnetism, only this one would manifest only at very short distances, like those inside an atomic nucleus. We’re “strongly thrilled at the possibility, and cautious at the same time,” a spokesman for the team says, “because this would be so important that [it] almost scares us.” The results have circulated in physics circles for months, with some skeptics hoping for a more definitive confirmation from CERN’s Large Hadron Collider.