Have scientists just found something completely game-changing in our understanding of the universe?
Scientists may have just stumbled on a truly incredible discovery: a fifth force of nature. Today, we know of four fundamental fources, which are gravitation, electromagnetism, and strong and weak nuclear forces. But if this latest discovery holds up, it would be nothing short of “revolutionary,” said the paper’s lead author.
Further experiments will be needed to confirm the finding, but a fifth force of nature would totally alter scientists understanding of how the universe operates, and it has implications for dark matter and the unification of forces, according to a University of California, Irvine statement. Jonathan Feng, professor of physics and astronomy and the leader of the study, analyzed data with his colleagues gathered by experiment nuclear physicists at the Hungarian Academy of Science who were searching for “dark photons,” or potential indicators of dark matter.
What they found was evidence of a previously unknown particle that is 30 times heavier than an electron, something at the time they didn’t claim was a new force but rather an “excess of events.” But Feng and his team looked deeper and believe what they actually found was not a dark photon by a protophobic X boson, which is a particles whose very existence would indicate a fifth force of nature that interacts only with protons and neutrons at short distances.
This fifth force could be a manifestation of a “grander, more fundamental force” — a truly exciting find, Feng said.
Along with the standard model of physics, there may be a separate “dark sector” with its own matter, Feng said. “It’s possible that these two sectors talk to each other and interact with one another through somewhat veiled but fundamental interactions,” he said. “This dark sector force may manifest itself as this protophobic force we’re seeing as a result of the Hungarian experiment. In a broader sense, it fits in with our original research to understand the nature of dark matter.”