In Hungary, a group of physicists have just made an announcement that they probably have found evidence of a mysterious fifth force of nature. If the finding is confirmed, it would mean we’d need to rethink our understanding of how the Universe actually works.
Considering our current understanding of physics there are four fundamental forces. Gravity holds the planets and galaxies together, and the electromagnetic force holds us and our molecules together. At the smallest level are the two other forces: the strong nuclear force is the glue for atomic nuclei, and the weak nuclear force helps some atoms go through radioactive decay. These forces summarise physics we can observe, more or less.
These four forces are an essential part of the standard model of physics, which explain all the behavior and particles we see in the Universe.
Have scientists finally discovered the fifth force of nature?
During the previous year, Attila Krasznahorkay and his group at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences’s Institute for Nuclear Research in Debrecen, Hungary published a paper announcing their discovery of a mysterious fifth force, but for some reason their discovery did not meet a good media coverage.
The group discovered their new force while looking for a “dark photon,” light that only impacts dark matter. They shot protons at lithium-7 samples creating beryllium-8 nuclei, which, as it decayed, emitted pairs of electrons and positrons. Suddenly, as they observed the emitted pairs, instead of a consistent drop-off, there was a slight bump, which the researchers attributed to the creation of an unknown particle with a mass of approximately 17 MeV.
For one year nothing happened, until now when a group of theoretical physicists led by Jonathan Feng at the University of California, Irvine, looked closer a the Hungarian group’s results, and found this new force didn’t seem to break any existing laws of physics.
Scientists are aware of that a new force would not be completely unexpected. The evidence for dark matter stems primarily from observations of the velocities of galaxies within galaxy clusters.
Researchers know about its existence and that there is no empty space in the universe.