A new force of nature at the LHC?

7.00pm to 8.30pm, Thursday 6 May

The Royal Institution of Great Britain GB United Kingdom W1S 4BS 21 Albemarle Street London
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  • The LHCb experiemnt at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland.

    Credit: Maximilien Brice / CERN


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Event description

At the end of March 2021, scientists working on the LHCb experiment at CERN in Geneva reported an unusual discrepancy in their data that caused huge excitement in the physics community and beyond. They looked at a decade of information about how unstable particles called B mesons decayed into electrons and muons. Our current theory of particle physics, the Standard Model, predicts equal numbers of electrons and muons, but the results showed fewer muons being produced than electrons. Is this just a cruel trick of the data, or could this be the first sign of a new force of nature?

Join LHCb physicists Paula Alvarez Cartelle and Harry Cliff and theoretical physicist Ben Allanach as they explain how they achieved this surprising result, discuss the potentially huge implications for our understanding of the world and reveal if this means we are finally about to see what lies beyond the Standard Model of Particle Physics.

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About the speakers

Paula Alvarez Cartelle is a particle physicist at the University of Cambridge working on the LHCb experiment, one of the four big experiments studying the data from the most powerful particle accelerator in the world, the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. She study very rare decays of particles containing b-quarks, with the aim to find the missing pieces that would help us understand some of the open questions in fundamental physics.

Harry Cliff
 is the Science Museum Fellow of Modern Science, which he reckons might be the only job title which begins and ends with 'science'. He spends half his time searching for signs of new physics at LHCb, one of the four big experiments at CERN's Large Hadron Collider. For the other half, he indulges his love of talking about physics at the Science Museum, where he develop exhibitions, events and online content.

Ben Allanach is Professor of Theoretical Physics at the University of Cambridge, in the Theoretical High Energy Particle Physics Group. Ben works mostly on collider searches for new physics with other members of the Cambridge Pheno Working Group especially at CERN's Large Hadron Collider. He worked at CERN in the early 2000s and goes back often, having Visiting Scientist status there.


The live stream will go live at 6.55pm, and the introduction will begin at 7.00pm. If you register but miss the live stream, the video will be available to you via the same link for up to a week after the event date.

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