Much of scientific discovery is about serendipity. Looking for something else, a scientist stumbles across a great, world-changing discovery. And so it is at the Large Hadron Collider, where they may have just proven pentaquarks exist.
As you might have guessed from the name, pentaquarks are a type of matter made up of five quarks, or rather four quarks and one anti-quark. They’re also incredibly rare; you generally only find them in the middle of a supernova, and in fact, CERN wasn’t even looking for pentaquarks. They admit they only realized what they had after they’d ruled out everything else, so it’s like what you had for dinner last night, except it’s a new state of matter.
So, how might this discovery be useful, beyond giving CERN bragging rights? It will help us understand the strong force, which is what allows particles to form into clumps like, say, us. It will also help us better understand what’s going on inside a supernova, which will be handy to astronomers. In other words, this will help us better understand some of the most fundamental principles of the universe. Not bad for something we stumbled onto.