Fermilab in Illinois is one of the unsung heroes in the ongoing quest to unravel the mysteries of the universe and bring them into the mainstream. With the more famous international efforts of CERN’s LHC being broadcast, there is a very real population who contend that the LHC’s ability to collect data at a very fine and subtle level is still nowhere near Fermilab’s own particle accelerator. And at first it seemed Femilab had discovered a brand new type of energy that could one day propel our understanding of the universe into the future.
The energy, which was detected somewhere around 145 GeV (Gigaelectronvolts) suggests a new type of particle that was previously undiscovered. The find, while still not being the legendary Higgs boson has been hoped to be yet another piece of the puzzle that allows scientists to ultimately develop ever increasingly advanced machines and systems to allow us to traverse the stars and even possibly travel between dimensions into a whole infinitude of undiscovered universes , without ever leaving our planet’s orbit.
But scientists at this point of discovery were still apprehensive about making wild promises or claims now that the particle had been detected with some level of certainty , because their standards of proof are incredibly stringent. Consider this , at the moment those working at Fermilab have determined with such mathematical certainty that this new particle is real, the likelihood of it simply being unreal are thought to now be one in over one million. And that’s only the beginning. Even if they do determine it to be real with such certainty as to meet their stringent scientific tests, even then it will only be considered evidence and not proof. They have even approached the CERN team with their findings, but appear hesitant to believe that CERN will be able to detect the incredibly subtle energies emitted from this new particle stating CERN’s instruments are nowhere near sensitive enough to pick up on it.
Then recently tests by Fermilab’s DZero found no sign of the particle. The dreams of a new physics were temporarily put on hold.
There has been an understandable level of friendly competition between the two teams , or at least the perception of competition in the media. The two different teams, despite searching in largely different places for different things have always been compared to one another. And this competition is only fueled with each shutdown of the multi-billion dollar LHC and discoveries made by the far cheaper but also far less powerful Tevatron run by Fermilab.
Fermilab has seen its share of space in the news after it was theorized that the lab may have come up with an alternate method of achieving nuclear fusion , the same process that works to power the sun. But fusion is actually a process that was never disputed, the part of it that would have allowed free energy if it had been achieved in such a way that allowed more energy to be produced through the reaction than was required to actually start it. Unfortunately, this has not yet been achieved by Fermilab or any other particle accelerator (at least not that we know of).