Have Scientists Discovered a New Force in Nature?
For decades, the universe has been viewed to exist on four fundamental forces of nature; the Strong nuclear force, the weak nuclear force, gravity and electromagnetism. However, if a recent paper published by physicists at the University of California prove to be true, there may a fifth force in existence that could change things.
The paper was published in the peer-reviewed journal, Physical Review Letters; suggests that the physicists may have discovered a new particle of matter that could actually be a new force of nature. If this discovery proves to be true it could help physicists finally get a step closer to the holy grail of physics; creating a grand unified theory that could help unify gravity and electromagnetism with the other forces. It may also aid scientists in finally being able to find dark matter.
“For decades, we’ve known of four fundamental forces,” the study’s lead author Jonathan Feng said in a press release. “If confirmed by further experiments, this discovery of a possible fifth force would completely change our understanding of the universe, with consequences for the unification of forces and dark matter.”
It all began when physicists at the Hungarian Academy of sciences in Budapest discovered an anomaly in 2015. The discovery was made while launching protons at thin sheets of lithium when the researchers saw an extremely rare ‘bump’ of random energy, which was originally believed to be a dark photon. Dark photons are 30 times heavier than an electron. Once Feng and his team found the Hungarians research, they were shocked by its results and what it might mean.
“The experimentalists weren’t able to claim that it was a new force,” said Feng. “They simply saw an excess of events that indicated a new particle, but it was not clear to them whether it was a matter particle or a force-carrying particle.”
Researchers from the University of California believe that Hungarian results brought them closer to believing that the research showed that the particle discovered produces a new force of nature. Their reasoning behind this assumption is caused by the particle’s characteristics, which show it to be a previously unknown, slow-moving subatomic particle (boson). Since it moves at a slower rate than a photon, the particle eventually splits apart at a wider angle.
“There’s no other boson that we’ve observed that has this same characteristic,” said co-author Timothy Tait. “Sometimes we also just call it the ‘X boson,’ where ‘X’ means unknown.”
The new particle is not very heavy and scientists have the energies available to duplicate it, but it could open many doors for particle research now and into the future. It is hoped that this new potential force will aid researchers in finding mathematical solutions to the existing forces that will allow them to finally create a Grand Unified Theory. However, more research will have to be done to confirm that these new findings are indeed a new force of nature first. To do so, Feng insists that his team will first have to confirm the Hungarian findings by recreating the findings, and adding evidence to the force particle theory.
The current run of the large hadron collider at CERN is currently looking for unknown particles. It is worth noting that previous proton-lithium collision tests didn’t yield the same results that brought the California team to their conclusion, and that these latest papers do not include the failed tests. the Hungarian team did manage to open the door for other researchers to know where to look for this new force particle, and that is a good beginning. They point out that the reason this particle wasn’t found sooner may have been because previous readings were the result of inaccurate measurements. Here’s hoping!