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Almost a quarter of the universe stands literally in the shadows. According to cosmologists' theories, 25.8% of it is made up of dark matter, whose presence is signaled essentially only by its gravitational pull. What this substance consists of remains a mystery. Hermann Nicolai, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics in Potsdam, and his colleague Krzysztof Meissner from the University of Warsaw have now proposed a new candidate—a superheavy gravitino. The existence of this still hypothetical particle follows from a hypothesis that seeks to explain how the observed spectrum of quarks and leptons in the standard model of particle physics might emerge from a fundamental theory. In addition, the researchers describe a possible method for actually tracking down this particle.
The standard model of particle physics encompasses the building blocks of matter and the forces that hold them together. It states that there are six different quarks and six leptons that are grouped into three "families." However, the matter around us and we ourselves are ultimately made up of only three particles from the first family: the up and down quarks and the electron, which is a member of the lepton family.
Standard - Model - Large - Hadron - Collider
Until now, this long-established standard model has remained unchanged. The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN in Geneva was brought into service around ten years ago with the main purpose of exploring what might lie beyond. However, after ten years of taking data, scientists have failed to detect any new elementary particles, apart from the Higgs boson, despite widely held expectations to the contrary. In other words, until now, measurements with the LHC have failed to provide any hints whatsoever of "new physics" beyond the standard model. These findings stand in stark contrast to numerous proposed extensions of this model that suggest a large number of new...
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