According to researchers, there is a fifth, previously unknown, fundamental force of nature that might help us understand what dark matter – the invisible substance that makes up over 80 percent of the Universe’s mass is.
For years, researchers have known that there are four fundamental forces that exist: Gravity, electromagnetism, the weak nuclear and the strong nuclear forces. However, studies indicate there might be another, undiscovered force waiting to be found. Hints of the existence of this force have set the world of physics abuzz. If researchers’ tests prove accurate, the discovery of the new force could completely upend everything we know about our universe and how it works.
The experiment conducted by a group of researchers led by Attila Krasznahorkay of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences indicates there is another force we have missed for decades.
According to a report by Nature News, researchers believe they had found a bizarre radioactive decay irregularities. The results of their studies were published last year in Physical Review Letters and despite the radical claims presented by researchers, their paper received almost no attention according to Gizmodo.
The group of scientists and their study went unnoticed until physicists at the University of California reviewed their methods and results and affirmed their findings to be accurate.
In a interview with ABC News, Geraint Lewis, a professor of astrophysics at the University of Sydney said: ‘What it’s telling us if it is correct is that there is something going on in the way that one particle talks to another particle that we haven’t got inside our mathematics at the moment.’
But for years researchers have speculated that another force might exist and until now no one was able to find evidence supporting those claims.
They believe that this discovery might help explain the inability of our current model of particle physics to explain and understand dark matter. Researchers believe that dark matter is an invisible element that could make up as much as eighty percent of the universe’s mass.
The discovery was made when researchers were looking for dark photons. They were blasting photons at a thin strip of lithium. As the lithium absorbed protons, it changed into an unstable version of beryllium which continued to decay even further producing electrons and positrons. Researchers noticed that when the protons hit against lithium at 140 degrees more electrons and positrons were produced than expected. According to Krasznahorkay, this additional material is produced by a particle which is 34 times heavier than an electron.
‘We are very confident about our experimental results,’ said Krasznahorkay, adding that that the team has repeated its test several times.
“We are very confident about our experimental results,” Krasznahorkay told Nature. He says that the chance of this bump being an anomaly is around 1 in 200 billion (but let’s keep in mind that only one other team has confirmed this as yet.)
Researchers around the world seem extremely excited about a possible discovery that could open up an entirely new era for Physics.
“It certainly isn’t the first thing I would have written down if I were allowed to augment the standard model at will,” Jesse Thaler from MIT, who wasn’t involved in either study, told Nature. However, he did acknowledge that he’s paying attention to what happens next with the reports. “Perhaps we are seeing our first glimpse into physics beyond the visible Universe,” he added.