It seems like the start of a really bad physics riddle: I’m a particle that truly isn’t; I disappear prior to I can even be found, yet can be seen. I break your understanding of physics however do not upgrade your understanding. Who am I?

It’s an odderon, a particle that’s much more odd than its name recommends, and it might have just recently been found at the Big Hadron Collider, the most effective atom smasher, where particles are zipped at near light speed around a 17- mile-long (27 kilometers) ring near Geneva in Switzerland.

First of all, the odderon is not truly a particle. What we consider particles are normally really steady: electrons, protons, quarks, neutrinos and so on. You can hold a lot of them in your hand and bring them around with you. Heck, your hand is actually made from them. And your hand isn’t disappearing into thin air anytime quickly, so we can most likely securely presume that its basic particles remain in for the long term. [7 Strange Facts About Quarks]

There are other particles that do not last long however still get to be called particles. In spite of their brief life times, they stay particles. They’re complimentary, independent and able to survive on their own, different from any interactions– those are the trademarks of a genuine particle.

And after that there is the so-called quasiparticle, which is simply one action above being not-a-particle-at-all. Quasiparticles aren’t precisely particles, however they’re not precisely fiction, either. It’s simply … made complex. [The 18 Biggest Unsolved Mysteries in Physics]

As in, actually made complex. In specific, interactions of particles at superhigh speeds get made complex. When 2 protons smash into each other at almost the speed of light, it’s not like 2 billiard balls breaking together. It’s more like 2 blobs of jellyfish wobbling into each other, getting their guts turned within out and having actually whatever get reorganized prior to they go back to being jellyfish en route out.

In all of this complex messiness, in some cases unusual patterns appear. Tiny particles pop into and out of presence in the blink of an eye, just to be followed by another short lived particle– and another. In some cases these flashes of particles appear in a specific series or pattern. In some cases it’s not even flashes of particles at all, however simply vibrations in the soup of the mix of the crash– vibrations that recommend the existence of a short-term particle.

It’s here that physicists deal with a mathematical issue. They can either try to totally explain all the complex messiness that results in these effervescent patterns, or they can pretend– simply for the sake of benefit– that these patterns are “particles” in their own right, however with odd homes, like unfavorable masses and spins that modification with time. [5 Seriously Mind-Boggling Math Facts]

Physicists select the latter alternative, and therefore the quasiparticle is born. Quasiparticles are short, effervescent patterns or ripples of energy that appear in the middle of a high-energy particle crash. However considering that it takes a great deal of legwork to totally explain that scenario mathematically, physicists take some faster ways and pretend that these patterns are their own particles. It’s done simply to make the mathematics much easier to manage. So, quasiparticles are dealt with like particles, although they absolutely aren’t.

It resembles pretending that your uncle’s jokes are in fact amusing. He is quasifunny simply for the sake of benefit.

One specific sort of quasiparticle is called the odderon, anticipated to exist in the 1970 s. It’s believed to appear when an odd variety of quarks— teensy particles that are the foundation of matter– briefly flash in and out of presence throughout proton and antiproton accidents. If odderons exist in this smashup circumstance, there will be a small distinction in the random samples (physics lingo for how quickly one particle strikes another) of accidents in between particles with themselves and with their antiparticles. [Photos: The World’s Largest Atom Smasher (LHC)]

So, if we knock a lot of protons together, for instance, we can compute a random sample for that interaction. Then, we can duplicate this workout for proton-antiproton accidents. In a world without odderons, these 2 random samples should equal. However odderons alter the photo– these short patterns we call odderons appear more positively in particle-particle than antiparticle-antiparticle accidents, which will somewhat customize the random sample.

The difficulty is that this distinction is anticipated to be really, really little, so you ‘d require a lots of occasions, or accidents, prior to you might declare a detection.

Now, if just we had a huge particle collider that frequently smashed protons and antiprotons together, and did it at such high energies therefore typically that we might get trusted stats. Oh, right: We do, the Big Hadron Collider.

In a current paper, released March 26 on the preprint server arXiv, the TOTEM Partnership (in the funny lingo acronyms of high-energy physics, TOTEM represents “Overall cross-section, Flexible scattering and diffraction dissociation Measurement at the LHC”) reported considerable distinctions in between the random samples of protons smashing other protons versus protons knocking into antiprotons. And the only method to describe the distinction is to reanimate this decades-old concept of the odderon. There may be other descriptions for the information (simply put, other types of unique particles), however odderons, as odd as it appears, seem the very best prospect.

Did TOTEM find something brand-new and cool about deep space? For sure. Did TOTEM find a new particle? No, since odderons are quasiparticles, not particles in their own right. Does it still assist us press past the limits of recognized physics? For sure. Does it break recognized physics? No, since odderons were anticipated to exist within our existing understanding.

Does all that appear a bit odd to you?

Paul M. Sutter is an astrophysicist at The Ohio State University, host of Ask a Spaceman and Area Radio, and author of Your Location in deep space

Initially released on Live Science