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Clues to exotic particles found again

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2:23pm, September 3, 2002

An experiment that found hints of what could be new subatomic particles last year has done it again.

A new analysis of data taken at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, N.Y., shows that particles called muons wobble in a magnetic field faster than predicted by the prevailing theory of particle physics. Because the speed-up can't be the handiwork of known particles, unknown ones may be responsible, says B. Lee Roberts of Boston University, a member of the experimental team.

Yet that's just what he and his colleagues announced a year and a half ago (SN: 2/17/01, p. 102: Muon orbits may defy main physics theory), and then they had to back away. It turned out that they were relying on a calculation that was revealed last December to include a simple arithmetic error. After the calculations were corrected, the predicted and measured wobble rates weren't so different.

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