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A detector unit from the Large Hadron Collider Beauty Experiment. Credit: LHCb collaboration

Physicists have observed a type of heavy particle for the first time from collisions in the Large Hadron Collider. The Standard Model of physics predicted the particle's existence but until now it eluded physicists.

Why it matters: The particle offers scientists an avenue for studying how fundamental parts of matter interact with one another to form the strong force holding together protons and neutrons in atoms. In other words, what holds everything together.

The details: Xi-cc++ is made up of three quarks (elementary particles that come in six different "flavors" determined by their mass and charge): an "up" quark (the lightest of the bunch) and two heavier ones known as "charm" quarks. The team working on the Large Hadron Collider's beauty (LHCb) experiment detected 300 of the particles in collisions carried out last year.

In 2002, physicists at Fermilab reported finding a similar particle (that one was made up of two "charms" and one "down" quark) but it hasn't been confirmed by subsequent experiments. The LHC physicists are now searching their data for that particle. "We should be able to see it with the data we have," lead researcher Patrick Spradlin told the NYT. "I think we are very close to resolving this controversy."

Go deeper: More broadly, the LHC is searching for confirmations of physicists' most powerful theories — or for altogether new physics. Brian Greene recently told Axios what he hopes to see from the collider in its current run. Read more here.

Go deeper

Crypto leads to massive surge in online scams

Expand chart
Reproduced from FTC; Chart: Axios Visuals

Bogus cryptocurrency investments led to an unprecedented increase in online scams last year, according to new data from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Why it matters: Cryptocurrency is an easy target because while it's surging in popularity, there's still a lot of confusion about how it works.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
2 hours ago - Health

New clues emerge on long COVID

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

The presence of certain autoantibodies or high amounts of coronavirus RNA in the blood could be indicators a patient has a higher chance of developing long COVID, according to a new study in the journal Cell.

  • Other factors include a person having Type 2 diabetes or the reactivation of the Epstein-Barr virus.

Biden says he'll make Supreme Court pick by end of February

President Biden speaks on the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. Photo: Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden on Thursday said he will announce the nominee for Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer's replacement by the end of February.

Driving the news: Biden also affirmed that he will nominate a Black woman to replace Breyer, saying "it's long overdue."

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