What Can Wobbling Muons Tell Us About the Particles in our Universe?

April 21, 2021

What Can Wobbling Muons Tell Us About the Particles in our Universe?

Join this special event sharing the first result from Fermilab's Muon g-2 experiment!

On April 7, 2021 the Muon g-2 Experiment at Fermilab will release its eagerly awaited first result. In the experiment, muons (like electrons but heavier) race around our 150 foot circumference magnetic racetrack, wobbling as they go like tops slowly spinning on their axes. Quantum Mechanics allows for “virtual” subatomic particles to ever so briefly come in and out of existence and affect the wobble of our muons. The Fermilab experiment measures this wobbling with more precision than ever before.

The previous incarnation of this experiment, performed two decades ago at Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island, NY, measured a small discrepancy from the theoretical prediction and hints that muons were influenced by perhaps undiscovered particles. Their hint was not strong enough to claim discovery but compelled Fermilab to perform the experiment again with many improvements.

After years of planning, an amazing land & sea journey of the magnetic ring, assembly, testing, and operations, we have our first result from our data. Will we confirm or refute the Brookhaven discrepancy? We will discuss that and what these wobbling muons in a magnet can tell us about the particles that make up our Universe.

Adam Lyon is a senior scientist and associate division head at Fermilab. He specializes in computing for experimental particle physics – both traditional classical computing and more recently quantum computing. He joined the Fermilab Muon g-2 experiment at its founding in 2011.