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Particle physics detective work behind the solution of a 50-year-old riddle

A man writing on a whiteboard. Photo.
Roman Pasechnik

For 50 years, the world of research has been searching eagerly for the so-called Odderon particle – entirely fruitlessly. However, a Swedish-Hungarian research team has managed to discover the mythical particle with the help of extensive data analyses.

In 1973, two French particle physicists were sitting in a basement amazed. According to their calculations, it seemed there was a completely new composite particle. The experiment in that French basement caught the attention of the international particle physics elite. The theoretical discovery proved to be the prelude to an international search. And now, a research team involving participants from Lund University has succeeded in identifying the Odderon particle exchange in connection with an advanced data analysis study at the CERN particle accelerator in Switzerland.

“This is a milestone for particle physics! It feels fantastic to be involved and to contribute to a better understanding of the world; a bit like a miniature moon landing”, says Roman Pasechnik, researcher in particle physics at Lund University.

Through extensive data analyses of elastic proton-proton and proton-antiproton collisions, the research team was able to track down the new particle. The analysis, which took several months, amazed the researchers.

“We have worked with some of the world's best particle physicists, and they were on tenterhooks when we published our results”, adds Pasechnik.

The study is presented in the European Physical Journal.

Study: "Evidence of Odderon-exchange from scaling properties of elastic scattering at TeV energies" – springer.com