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Fifth Force of Nature Discovered in Mystery Subatomic Particle?

Image: Fifth Force of Nature Discovered in Mystery Subatomic Particle?

(Rex Features via AP Images)

By    |   Tuesday, 16 Aug 2016 07:56 AM

A possible fifth force of nature has been discovered with the identification of a previous unknown subatomic particle found while researchers were trying to find dark matter.

The research at the University of California, Irvine, published last week in the science journal Physical Review Letters, was done by theoretical physicists that built on a 2015 study by nuclear physicists at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

"If true, it's revolutionary," said Jonathan Feng, professor of physics and astronomy at the university. "For decades, we've known of four fundamental forces: gravitation, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces.

"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."

The Hungarian study that searched for "dark photons" actually discovered a radioactive decay anomaly that suggested the existence of a light particle 30 times heavier than an electron, Feng said.

"The experimentalists weren't able to claim that it was a new force," Feng said. "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."

After conducting their own examination of the Hungarian's research data, as well as data from other experiments in the area, the University of California researchers reached the theory that what was actually found could be a fifth fundamental force instead of a matter particle or dark photon.

"The particle is not very heavy, and laboratories have had the energies required to make it since the '50s and '60s," Feng said. "But the reason it's been hard to find is that its interactions are very feeble. That said, 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."

But there is still work to be done to confirm the fifth force to join the other four. Gravity is force to keeps us on the surface of the Earth, the planets in orbit around the sun, and stars and galaxies in formation, noted the European Space Agency.

Electromagnetism is the force responsible for the way matter generates and responds to electricity and magnetism. The strong nuclear force binds the nucleus of an atom together while the weak nuclear force is responsible for certain types of radioactive decay, which allows for such things as radiocarbon dating, noted the ESA.

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A possible fifth force of nature has been discovered with the identification of a previous unknown subatomic particle found while researchers were trying to find dark matter.
fifth, force, nature, subatomic, particle
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2016-56-16
Tuesday, 16 Aug 2016 07:56 AM
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