Nature never ceases to amaze us. Scientists thought they have already discovered the basics of the natural, physical world, and encompassed them in elements such as electromagnetic force, gravitational force, strong and weak nuclear force. Not until recently, these forces had been enough to explain the processes happening in the universe. Now, a new element comes to the researchers’ attention: they think they might be facing a fifth force of nature.
The Hungarian Academy of Science has been leading experiments for at least a year, and the results might now prove that there actually exists a fifth force of nature, besides the already known ones. The scientists found a new kind of particle, much more massive than an electron, and they think it might be a dark photon.
Nevertheless, it is not the Hungarians who suggested this interpretation of the fifth force of nature, but another team of researchers, this time, led by Jonathan Feng, from the University of California. He and his team studied the data again and stated that the previous study didn’t establish whether the new particle (the dark photon) had been “matter particle or a force-carrying particle,” as Professor Jonathan Feng puts it.
If it turns out to be a particle which carries force, then scientists could be facing a fifth force of nature, indeed. If such were the case, the dark photon would actually turn out to be a protophobic X boson, also known as simply X boson.
Timothy Tait, Feng’s team member, explains how come the particle is so difficult to find, and it manages to remain hidden for so long:
“(…)because the new particle is so light, there are many experimental groups working in small labs around the world that can follow up the initial claims, now that they know where to look.”
Neither the Americans nor the Hungarians are not sure whether the discovery of this new particle (be it a dark photon or a protophobic X) means that there is also a fifth force of nature. If further research proves this right, then it will have massive consequences in the scientific world, including the need to revise our previous knowledge of the world and how the laws of physics apply to it.
The study of the Hungarian team was published in Physical Review Letters.
Image courtesy of: Wikipedia