The CDF detector, which is part of the Tevatron particle accelerator at Fermilab in Illinois, just stunned physicists with new “hefty” measurements of the W boson’s mass. (Image credit: Science History Images / Alamy )

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An ultraprecise measurement of the mass of a subatomic particle called the W boson may diverge from the Standard Model, a long-reigning framework that governs the strange world of quantum physics

After 10 years of collaboration using an atom smasher at Fermilab in Illinois, scientists announced this new measurement, which is so precise that they likened it to finding the weight of an 800-pound (363 kilograms) gorilla to a precision of 1.5 ounces (42.5 grams). Their result puts the W boson, a carrier of the weak nuclear force, at a mass seven standard deviations higher than the Standard Model predicts. That’s a very high level of certainty, representing only an incredibly small probability that this result occurred by pure chance.


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