The true nature of dark matter keeps many physicists awake at night, and researchers from around the world are trying to work out how to make it fit in our current models.
Although we don’t have direct evidence of its existence, scientists are often proposing mechanisms for its interaction. The latest one is called the Madala boson, an analog to the Higgs boson, but one that interacts exclusively with dark matter.
The hypothesis was put forward by researchers from Wits University in South Africa during an in-house seminar on September 6. The team led by Professor Bruce Mellado suggested that a 270 GeV bump in data from CERN is actually a new boson.
“Based on a number of features and peculiarities of the data reported by the experiments at the LHC and collected up to the end of 2012, the Wits HEP group in collaboration with scientists in India and Sweden formulated the Madala hypothesis,” said Mellado in a statement.
While hypotheses like this are interesting, it is definitely too soon to claim this is a prediction, let alone a discovery. CERN itself in a tweet has denied a sighting of this new boson, saying: “Sorry guys, but there is no evidence so far in the #LHC data to support the existence of a hypothetical #Madala #boson.”
The 270 GeV excess was apparently detected with a certainty of three sigmas (99.87 percent), although that probability does not necessarily infer the existence of a new boson. By comparison, the notorious 750 GeV bump announced last December had a 3.9 sigma, but it disappeared when more data was taken. 99.87 percent might seem like good odds if you were betting for its existence, but if it was a plane with a risk of falling once every 500 flights, you might not be so sure of those chances.
Physicists have to be very strict when it comes to new particles. Detections need to pass the five sigma (99.9999 percent) limit to be considered new discoveries. So to find out if the 270 GeV bump is a real particle, and if it is the Madala boson, we’ll have to wait and see.