Two-Photon Events Discrepant, But What’s the Cause?

Matt Strassler 11/1/11.   No rest for the weary: yet another discrepancy. This one is somewhat different from the small multi-lepton excess at CMS of a couple of weeks ago (tenuous, but in a very interesting and plausible place) and from the OPERA faster-than-light neutrino claim (not so tenuous, but not so plausible either). Now we have a discrepancy involving collisions that produce two low-energy photons [particles of light]. The effect is seen in four experiments, not one: both ATLAS and CMS at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), and also CDF and DZero at the Tevatron collider. It’s too large to be a statistical fluke (the excess is not small and it shows up in four experiments). Nor does it look like an experimental mistake (since it shows up in four experiments). Might it be a sign of a new phenomenon not predicted by the Standard Model (the equations that describe the known particles and forces, plus the simplest possible Higgs particle)? Maybe… Can’t rule it out, though there’s not enough information in the experiments’ public documents for a serious evaluation of that possibility. But in any case, my preliminary impression is that it’s most likely something else: either a problem with the theoretical calculation of what the Standard Model predicts, or a problem with the way this theoretical calculation was used by the experiments.

Now why would I come to that conclusion? To read more, click here.

6 responses to “Two-Photon Events Discrepant, But What’s the Cause?

  1. Excellent and fair article as always.

    I do believe that this is a phenomenon which needs a new interpretation. There are some intrinsic angles, such as, the Cabibbo angel (13.5), Weinberg angle (28.75), neutrino mixing angles. Those mixing angles can also be the channels for photons, not just for quarks or leptons. There are 6 primary mixing angles and 3 secondary angels, such as, 35.84 degrees, 43.91 degrees, 58.19 degrees, etc.). If those excesses happen at those angels, then we know the cause of it.

    • “If those excesses happen at those angels, then we know the cause of it.”

      Dear Tienzen, could You say a bit more explicitely what this would mean for “dummies” like me ?

      That would be nice 😉

    • I highly doubt it. I see discrepancies like this all the time. They do not need new interpretations; typically what happens is that once theorists improve their methods, discrepancies like this go away. Over the years many wrong theoretical and experimental papers have been written trying to introduce new interpretations of the data, when what was actually needed was better predictions. In fact, that’s why many great theorists don’t spend their time tinkering with the Standard Model, and instead focus on improving theorists’ ability to calculate within the Standard Model. If currently we only had the methods that we had 10 years ago, you would have seen far more apparent discrepancies at the LHC than you have already. Fortunately, there has been enormous progress over the last 10 years, which gives us far better predictions than were possible in 2000, and consequently we have far more sensitivity to new phenomena than we used to have.

  2. “Dear Tienzen, could You say a bit more explicitely what this would mean for “dummies” like me ?

    That would be nice.”

    Dear Dilaton, I can give an opinion of some sorts but should not promote any new theory here.

    Matt’s answers are always excellent, solid and fair. We should wait and see.

    • Dear Tienzen,

      maybe You are right; I like and appreciate Matt`s clear and sound articles and answers a lot too 🙂

      And even bearing in mind what I`ve read in the “about me” that he has written more the 75 papers about, I trust him ;-)…
      I`m joking (of course) and alluding to a certain answer Matt has given to Plato below a previous article that made me chuckle quite a while … ;-P