Batavia, Illinois just became the center of the physics universe. 

Just a couple of things before we get into this:

  • Thanks for actually clicking on an article about science.
  • I have NO idea what any of this really means
  • This video does a decent job of bringing this down to the level that some normal people can actually understand.

It is awesome to see Fermilab on the national stage again as one of the world leaders in particle physics research. Their research hasn't fallen off, obviously, in the last 10 years but apparently, the world only has the interest level in particle physics to talk about one at a time particle reactor at a time. Fermilab was the big dog in town until CERN blew everyone's mind in 2012 with the discovery of the Higgs boson. Another thing that I don't understand at all but apparently it's why anything has mass. CERN's scientists weren't any better than Fermilab's, but they had the superior facility. Equipped with a reactor 4 times as big as Fermilab's, CERN was simply playing with better equipment.

After that it was just CERN this and CERN that while Fermilab in Batavia, Illinois just churned away with their own research, just waiting to take back the spotlight.

Well, the spotlight showed up earlier this week and now news outlets are flipping through their Rolodex to find their "science" guy to try and explain this to their audience.

So what did they find?

As far as I can tell from a few articles and YouTube videos is that this is possibly the beginning of a discovery that could refute some fundamental principles of physics. The physics that we all learned in high school work great when you're dealing with large objects like a baseball or a planet. When you start zooming in, and especially at the atomic and subatomic level, high school physics starts to fall apart.

The Fermilab experiment, according to the New York Times, is only 6% complete. What they've seen so far suggests some very exciting news in the future, but it is FAR from the threshold for scientific evidence for proof.

That threshold is EXTRADORDINARLY high by the way. There was only a 1 in 40,000 chance that what they found this week was a fluke, so there is good reason for the excitement.

Congrats to Illinois' own Fermilab in Batavia. CERN will be back in the news soon enough but it's nice to have the spotlight back here again.

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