Newly discovered particle is mysterious, delicious

An artist's rendering of a potential new addition to the Main Control Room, allowing operators to switch from neutrino production to glucoson production in the Main Injector, once the process is understood.

An artist’s rendering of a potential new addition to the Main Control Room, allowing operators to switch from neutrino production to glucoson production in the Main Injector, once the process is understood.

It’s the dream of any particle physicist to discover some new ingredient in the cosmic soup that formed our universe. If that ingredient happens to be a tasty one, so much the better.

Scientists working on Fermilab’s Main Injector accelerator announced a major, yet completely accidental discovery this week: a previously unseen particle that seems to play an integral role in the makeup of the universe. Unlike most particles discovered with the lab’s flagship accelerator, this one is not subatomic — you can fit about five of them in your hand — and it comes in only one flavor.

“It looks, feels and, most importantly, tastes exactly like candy corn,” said Sergei Nagaitsev, Fermilab’s chief accelerator officer.

Nagaitsev said that accelerator operators are not sure how the new particle, which they have called a glucoson, was generated.

“One moment we were accelerating protons into a target as usual, the next our accelerator was full of yummy, sugary candy corn,” Nagaitsev said. “We’ve been trying to replicate it, but all we’ve managed to make are neutrinos, and as everyone knows, you can’t eat neutrinos.”

“Believe me, I’ve tried,” he added, popping a handful of the amazing new discovery into his mouth.

In a paper published in Nature this week, Fermilab scientists have made an extraordinary claim about the new particle: it does not itself decay, but it causes teeth to decay. Researchers say that further study is required to truly understand this property.

Scientists have been studying the new particle in mass quantities since discovering it, but now they say supplies of the glucoson are running low. Nagaitsev said his team is hoping to replicate the original discovery soon.

“It’s not often that the accelerator itself is the site of a major discovery,” Nagaitsev said, his mouth full of glucosons. “We’re pretty proud of this.”