Shock W boson measurement could shake up particle physics

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Fermilab’s Tevatron particle collider in Batavia, Illinois was once the most powerful accelerator in the world.Credit: Granger/Alamy

Physicists analyzing data from a long-dead experiment have found that the W boson – a fundamental particle that carries the weak nuclear force – is significantly heavier than the theory predicts. Although the difference between the theoretical prediction and the experimental value is only 0.09%, it is significantly greater than the error margins of the result, which are less than 0.01%. The finding also disagrees with some other measurements of mass. If confirmed by further experiments, it could be the first major breach in the Standard Model of particle physics, a theory that has enjoyed spectacular success since its introduction in the 1970s.

Nature | 7 minute read

Reference: Science paper

On April 2, the World Health Organization (WHO) said it had discovered problems at a manufacturing plant in Hyderabad. India, which produced Covaxin, Bharat Biotech’s COVID-19 vaccine. The company has agreed to halt exports of the vaccine, which uses inactivated virus technology. UN agencies that purchased the vaccine can no longer supply it and have asked countries to switch to other products. The WHO said the company was “developing a corrective and preventive action plan”, but a company spokesperson said Science that it would continue to sell the vaccine in India.

Science | 5 minute read

Features & Reviews

Data from smaller studies can often remain siled in the labs that generated them, fading from memory when project members leave. For the scientific community, it is a tragedy of wasted effort, lost opportunities for collaboration, and irreproducibility. The good news is that more sophisticated data management solutions are emerging. The FAIR Principles, which aim to ensure that scientific data should be “findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable”, have been adopted to inspire fundamental changes in the way data is managed and shared.

Nature | 7 minute read

Futures: the science fiction of Nature

In this week’s help of short stories for NatureThe Futures series of:

• Something funny happens in a page of letters from a local newspaper in a remote valley, in “Replying to Your Reader”.

• Pious hopes, fake data and university politics blur the trail of an extraterrestrial signal in “The Director Will See You Now”.

Andrew Robinson’s pick of the five best science books to read this week includes an exploration of counting in the animal kingdom, a heartfelt inquiry into forests by ecologist John Reid and Thomas Lovejoy (who is credited with founding the biology of climate change) and an attractively written death story.

Nature | 3 minute read

Researchers have built a detector surrounded by the coldest cubic meter in the known Universe to search for an ultra-rare nuclear process called neutrinoless double β decay. The experiment, based at Gran Sasso in Italy, aims to understand why the Universe has a mysterious imbalance: it seems to contain much more matter than antimatter. This remarkable technical feat required the stable operation of more than a ton of experimental apparatus, at cryogenic temperatures close to 10 millikelvin, for several years.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY

On World Health Day yesterday, the Director General of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, launched a new initiative “Peace for Health and Health for Peace” to find a path through conflict, the pandemic and the climate crisis. (USA Today | 5 minute read)

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