back to article Physicists believe they may have found fifth force of nature

A team of physicists has released tantalizing evidence claiming that there may be a fifth force of nature, according to a paper published in Physical Review Letters. "If true, it's revolutionary," said Jonathan Feng, lead author of the study and professor of physics and astronomy at the University of California, Irvine. "For …

  1. bazza Silver badge

    <pedant mode>

    Er, wasn't the weak and electro-magnetic forces unified into the electro-weak force upon the discovery of the W & Z vector bosons at CERN back in the 1980s? Which would mean that there are now thought to be 4 forces, namely gravity, strong, electro-weak, and this new one?

    </pedant mode>

    1. Chemist

      "Er, wasn't the weak and electro-magnetic forces unified into the electro-weak force upon the discovery of the W & Z vector bosons at CERN back in the 1980s? Which would mean that there are now thought to be 4 forces, namely gravity, strong, electro-weak, and this new one?"

      AFAIK it depends on the temperature of the systems you are considering. The weak & electromagnetic appear to be indistinguishable above a certain energy/temperature and indeed I think the strong nuclear force can also be unified above an even higher temperature.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Gimp

        Some [who?] say it was only "unified" by merging the mathematics into a single description [citation needed], and the "unification" is in the mind of the beholder only. I don't understand this too well, see the comment section of this "SUSY 2015" blogpost by Peter Woit for historical perspective and more.

        Sceptical Gimp is Sceptical icon, of course.

      2. Falmari
        Coat

        depends on the temperature

        So the number of forces of nature depend on it being summer or winter!

    2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      I believe the pedantry is correct, but old habits die hard.

      As far as I know, the unification between EM and weak is undisputed amongst those who can do the maths but any further unification between EW and strong is possible in several different ways and we haven't yet got the evidence to tell us which one of the candidates (if any) is the right one. (Isn't that why CERN keep looking for super-symmetric partners?) So there are (currently) 3 fundamental forces.

      Despite that, I think it is true to say that everyone talks about the 4 fundamental forces, even if they are working at CERN and know full well that there are only 3. Based on previous physics-y threads on these forums I'm almost certain that there are regular commentards who work at CERN, so if I'm wrong then I expect to be enlightened about current practice.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Unified forces

      The Electromagnetic force acts upon charge whilst the Weak Atomic force acts upon Flavour so although the Electromagnetic and Weak forces can be said to be unified the forces still differ in their effect and must still be considered to be different forces.

      A rough analogy might be to consider the difference between an aircraft and a conveyor belt, where 'force' is defined as the ability to transport things; put something on an aircraft and it'll go somewhere else, put something on a conveyor belt and it too will go somewhere else. There are considerable differences in the characteristics in those two types of transport though; an aircraft is not a conveyor belt, and visa versa.

      In the above analogy, the Electroweak unification is a bit like Fed-Ex, which moves stuff around and which needs both conveyor belts and aircraft to do so; just because Fed-Ex exists doesn't mean that aircraft and conveyor belts no longer exist as different entities because they've been combined into airconveyorcraftbelt objects.

  2. Harry the Bastard

    paywall on linked article

    presumably it's this one on arxiv...

    https://arxiv.org/pdf/1604.07411.pdf

    1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      Re: paywall on linked article

      Thanks for digging that out; it'll give me something to enjoy tomorrow.

    2. knarf

      Re: paywall on linked article

      I HATE pay walls on research data, it should be make illegal as its generally the public paying for the research in the first place....gggrrrrrrr

  3. DougS Silver badge
    Alien

    Matter/antimatter vs "regular"/"dark" matter

    One of the mysteries of physics is why matter dominates over antimatter. There are theories but we can't point to anything and say with absolute certainty we know that's the reason.

    We believe dark matter dominates and what we consider regular matter is less abundant. Since dark matter and regular matter don't appear to interact (other than via gravity) there could be a whole other universe superimposed upon ours with its own stars, planets and life that we're currently oblivious to - and vice versa. At least until a certain level of technology is reached where it might become possible to peel back the veil.

    Maybe aliens keep visiting us from the dark matter world via regular matter ships they've found out how to build and probe our asses because life forms made of our type of matter are such a rarity! Or maybe Nibbler isn't the only one with turds that can be used to fuel spaceships.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Matter/antimatter vs "regular"/"dark" matter

      "I have come from a dark matter world to probe some arse" .... we need some background techno music to make this kind of lyrics palatable..

      1. hplasm Silver badge
        Alien

        Re: Matter/antimatter vs "regular"/"dark" matter

        "I have come from a dark matter world to probe some arse"

        Sounds like marketing speak, to me.

        Hide.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Matter/antimatter vs "regular"/"dark" matter

          No, that's just a description of many IT recruiters.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Matter/antimatter vs "regular"/"dark" matter

            > No, that's just a description of many IT recruiters.

            ... in that case, "to probe the cheapest arse available".

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Matter/antimatter vs "regular"/"dark" matter

        I believe Paul said it best.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EU6gPaQrQrQ

      3. Robin

        Re: Matter/antimatter vs "regular"/"dark" matter

        "I have come from a dark matter world to probe some arse"

        Or...

        "I came here to drink milk and probe arse. And I've just finished my milk."

      4. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

        Re: Matter/antimatter vs "regular"/"dark" matter

        "I have come from a dark matter world to probe some arse"

        Could be the libretto for an actual Space Opera. Just translate it into Italian and put some catchy solo arias in there. I'm thinking The Magic Flute meets The Flying Dutchman in space, with some Psychic TV thrown in for good measure.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Matter/antimatter vs "regular"/"dark" matter

      "Since dark matter and regular matter don't appear to interact (other than via gravity) there could be a whole other universe superimposed upon ours with its own stars, planets and life that we're currently oblivious to - and vice versa. "

      You explained yourself why this can't be right. If we were interpenetrated (ooh mum) by a dark universe with stars and planets, we would know it was there through gravity (dark planets could be captured by light suns and vice versa).

      Gravity, in fact, tells us where the dark matter has to be - in a relatively low density halo around galaxies - where it is diffuse enough not to have us wondering why some of the stars are apparently in small tight orbits around nothing.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Matter/antimatter vs "regular"/"dark" matter

        It would be fun if that matter behaved very differently and didn't clump at all but created galaxy-large low-density "dark forest" biotopes, more agreeable to "dark live" than our system. No ringworld needed, nature provides!!

        I sense a SciFi story...

      2. Captain DaFt

        Re: Matter/antimatter vs "regular"/"dark" matter

        "Gravity, in fact, tells us where the dark matter has to be - in a relatively low density halo around galaxies - where it is diffuse enough not to have us wondering why some of the stars are apparently in small tight orbits around nothing."

        And that's what makes my head hurt about dark matter.

        Apparently it interacts with regular matter via gravity, but doesn't interact with itself that way, otherwise, it would form "dark planets", or somesuch.

        Is there some force interacting in dark matter, but not regular matter, that overcomes gravitational attraction, keeping it diffuse, or does gravity only work dark-regular, or regular-regular, but not dark-dark, and if so... HOW?

        Guaranteed Nobel for whoever figures that one out, I'll wager.

        1. Roj Blake Silver badge

          Re: Matter/antimatter vs "regular"/"dark" matter

          Normal matter isn't just held together by gravity but also by electromagnetism. Indeed, gravity is the weakest of the four forces at short distances. Dark matter isn't affected by EM and so doesn't clumps together so easily.

          1. alain williams Silver badge

            Re: Matter/antimatter vs "regular"/"dark" matter

            Normal matter isn't just held together by gravity but also by electromagnetism.

            But when a star forms it is gravity that pulls it all together and the other forces that, via solar ignition/fusion, keep it from collapsing completely - so what keeps dark matter diffuse ?

            1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

              Re: Matter/antimatter vs "regular"/"dark" matter

              But when a star forms it is gravity that pulls it all together and the other forces that, via solar ignition/fusion, keep it from collapsing completely - so what keeps dark matter diffuse ?

              The simple answer is "heat". The particles are speeding around and can't dump their kinetic energy (because they don't interact with anything). So they don't slow down and form large self-gravitating halos.

              1. Captain DaFt

                Re: Matter/antimatter vs "regular"/"dark" matter

                "The simple answer is "heat". The particles are speeding around and can't dump their kinetic energy (because they don't interact with anything)."

                But if they don't interact with photons, how did they heat up in the first place?

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Matter/antimatter vs "regular"/"dark" matter

                  "But if they don't interact with photons, how did they heat up in the first place?"

                  The same way as everything else - the Big Bang.

                  Since the start of cosmic inflation, it's all been a steady trip downhill.

            2. Captain DaFt

              Re: Matter/antimatter vs "regular"/"dark" matter

              "so what keeps dark matter diffuse?"

              Whatever it is, it helps create the Universe as we know it.

              If dark matter wasn't kept diffuse, it'd clump inside regular matter, increasing the mass of stars of and planets until they collapsed into black holes.

              (Most of the Universe's mass is allegedly dark matter, so the mass increase would be >ahem< astronomical.)

              It's demonstrably not EM, strong or weak force, due to the lack of interaction with normal matter, so it must be another type of force(s).

              Possibly the same force that's causing the Universe's expansion to accelerate?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Matter/antimatter vs "regular"/"dark" matter

          As another poster has observed, gravity is an extremely weak force compared to the EM force experienced by both protons and electrons. Neutrons and neutrinos are neutral which is how they are able to wander through matter so easily, but neutrons feel the strong force and so collide with nuclei.

          Hypothetical dark matter particles only feel the gravitational force, so collisions with one another will be elastic - meaning they don't lose overall kinetic energy (WIMPs of course will sometimes have weak interactions) . They are very unlikely to collide with light matter, just like neutrinos. Thus, the only mechanism for them to clump is the very small gravitational force, which means eventually they form halos around galaxies, but the halos will be very, very slow to contract.

          1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

            Re: Matter/antimatter vs "regular"/"dark" matter

            "Thus, the only mechanism for them to clump is the very small gravitational force, which means eventually they form halos around galaxies, but the halos will be very, very slow to contract."

            In the very, very long run (after all the stars in a galaxy have burned out?), could this be a mechanism that squeezes all the galaxy's matter into a singularity? Or even the whole universe?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Matter/antimatter vs "regular"/"dark" matter

              No, for the whole of the universe, its whole matter/energy content is relevant, irrespective of the form of the same (everything could be radiation and it might still collapse).

              Models (in particular FLRW) seem to assume a uniform "gravitating gas" residing in the spacetime, and it is the expansion rate relative to the density only which determines whether the will be eventual collapse or forever expansion.

  4. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Headmaster

    WHO ORDERED THAT!

    I want this experiment .... reproduced!!

    1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      Re: WHO ORDERED THAT!

      Yeah, a quick skim of the paper makes it look like ambulance chasing of the 750GeV variety: they're reliant on the Hungarian experimentalists' results. So it's not physicists saying this; it's a handful of physicists.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: WHO ORDERED THAT!

        But it's a nice exercise in construction of a new particle (I understand only a minimal part of this ... a Lagrangian is pulled out of the tunnel and then what?) and in constraining it by checking existing results.

        "Nevertheless there are myriad opportunities to test and confirm this explanation, including re-analysis of old data sets, ongoing experiments, and many planned and future experiments, including DarkLight [37], HPS [38], LHCb [39], MESA [40], Mu3e [41], VEPP-3 [42], and possibly also SeaQuest [43] and SHiP [44]. The 8 Be signal region and expected sensitivities of these experiments are shown in Fig. 2. It will also be important to embed the protophobic gauge boson in UV-complete extensions of the standard model, a task made challenging by the wealth of data constraining new physics at the ∼ 10 MeV energy scale. Further details about the existing constraints, prospects for the future, and UV completions will be presented elsewhere [45]."

        Let the elsewhere begin!

        1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

          @Destroy All Managers

          I'm not sure I understand that much of it either. But they only seem to have written down an obvious Lagrangian for one possible particle ("We consider a massive spin-1 Abelian gauge boson X that couples nonchirally to standard model (SM) fermions...") and then fitted it using an effective theory. And, as they admit themselves (in the 3rd sentence you quote), that was the easy bit.

          It's good that somebody's done the work. It's interesting to know this fits the data. It's an interesting direction. But it's not as ground breaking as the headline claims.

      2. Mark 85 Silver badge

        @Brewster's Angle Grinder -- Re: WHO ORDERED THAT!

        I'm thinking this is more like garden-shed boffinry. Maybe only a handful of physicists but there is a tradition to be reckoned with.

        1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

          Re: @Brewster's Angle Grinder -- WHO ORDERED THAT!

          This is more bikeshedding than garden shed boffinry. The "tradition" is that of a cottage industry of HEP guys who will build particles to fit any bump in your data. It's glorified curve fitting, and it doesn't even produce a unique curve.

          The justification is to explain dark matter or give us insight into a complete theory. And there's nothing to say this X doesn't mark the spot where a Nobel prize lays buried. But these are physicist gold panners; staking a claim and digging away furiously. If they've struck gold, congratulations to them: the hard work paid off.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    X Boson

    Is that the shaving-cream molecule?

    Seriously though, sounds like those guys just uttered the most important two words of scientific discovery: "That's strange".

  6. SJA

    Chuck Norris

    When I read the title I thought, that scientists have finally discovered Chuck Norris.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh come on, we know that other force..

    It's stupidity, of course.

    1. hplasm Silver badge

      Re: Oh come on, we know that other force..

      Damn! The strongest of all the forces!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Oh come on, we know that other force..

        For the small minority out there who enjoy watching cycling, further research will show that there is no new force, because Jens Voight retired a couple of years ago.

        http://www.jensvoigtfacts.com/

    2. Dagg
      Big Brother

      Re: Oh come on, we know that other force..

      The universe is finite, stupidity (especially human) is infinite!

      1. h4rm0ny

        Re: Oh come on, we know that other force..

        You can't have one form of stupidity (human) be more infinite than others. Something is infinite or it ain't.

        1. IDoNotThinkSo

          Re: Oh come on, we know that other force..

          There are different sizes of infinity I'm afraid - for instance there are more real numbers than positive whole numbers, but both sets are infinite.

          See: the work of Georg Cantor

          1. h4rm0ny

            Re: Oh come on, we know that other force..

            >>"There are different sizes of infinity I'm afraid - for instance there are more real numbers than positive whole numbers, but both sets are infinite."

            I was expecting some such reply and don't truly disagree. But I'll observe that any attempt to measure them will find them functionally indistinguishable. Can a real quality (in this case stupidity) be classed as one of the larger infinities? Surely by definition it is of the smallest class of infinity there is.

  8. batfastad
    Coat

    Sixth surely?

    Because... bacon!!

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Sixth surely?

      What does Francis have to do with this?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sixth surely?

        "What does Francis have to do with this?"

        He was the one who suggested groups of people get together and do scientific research in the interests of the development of civilisation. (He also recommended industrial espionage, which would eventually be used to the immense benefit of the New England economy and later still China. Up till then science was basically what individual gentlemen who found chasing foxes a bit boring used to do as a kind of hobby.)

        So - he's one of the reasons we have CERN.

  9. Paul

    I've often thought stupidity is a fundamental force of nature.

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      Holmes

      I've often thought stupidity is a fundamental force of nature.

      Inertia for the intellect.

      Hence- "They are quite dense." etc.

  10. s. pam
    Holmes

    Aha!

    They've discovered the "G" spot of physics!

    I'll get me hat

  11. fidodogbreath Silver badge

    The real 5th force of nature

    Instead, they believe it could be a force carrier – the "protophobic X boson" or "X boson."

    Further research has revealed that the mystery force is actually the Windows X (WX) bosun. According to the M$ Unified Revenue Theory, the WX bosun has infinite (but not yet critical) mass. It is effectively a black hole: it sucks in all personal information within its event horizon, then uses quantum teleportation to transfer those data to distant dark-matter servers.

    The WX bosun appears to be the product of a reaction that was catalyzed by a precursor particle known as the GWX bosun. WX can be detected by the presence of "relevant ads" in locations where none were previously present, such as the Start menu.

    The behavior of WX is difficult to manipulate because (a) it is polymorphic, changing itself constantly and without warning; and (b), it is unaffected by all known settings changes.

  12. taxythingy

    Proton radius puzzle tie in?

    I wonder what the chances are that this links to the proton radius puzzle?

    Here they are talking about a force-carrying boson that interacts primarily with electrons. It doesn't sound too far fetched that it would interact with muons in an unexpected way, and the paper highlights a possibility. That might shine some light on the proton radius measurements, which are unexpectedly inconsistent when measured with muons c.f. electrons.

    Too bad my particle physics and math aren't of the required standard.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Proton radius puzzle tie in?

      Let's not get carried away. At the present state, all of this is highly speculative.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Proton radius puzzle tie in?

        "Let's not get carried away. At the present state, all of this is highly speculative."

        How many people are working on various aspects of String Theory? If people hadn't got carried away it would be on hold while someone tried to think of an experiment.

  13. dan1980

    You know that cliche of 'I know what all those words mean individually, but not in that order'? Well, I'm not even at that level yet when it comes to this article.

    All I can say is that, whatever the outcome of this is, I am exceptionally proud of the genius of humans and grateful for that subset who, when faced with things like this, respond with curiosity, imagination and bloody hard work, rather than - as is my usual response - profound confusion and feelings of inadequacy intense enough to require dilution in a suitable solvent.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is why I love science

    Knowledge is all the 'god' we need.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Terminator

      Re: This is why I love science

      So Ignorance is the Devil

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: This is why I love science

        No.

        In this analogy, mysticism and spirituality is the 'devil'

        1. Swarthy Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: This is why I love science

          In this analogy, mysticism and spirituality is the 'devil'

          That is what Lostyearsago said - ignorance is the devil.

  15. Nik 2
    Alien

    I'm pretty sure that the "one grander, more fundamental force" ought to be captialised as Force. And that it too has been discovered, although that was long ago and far, far away...

  16. CustardGannet
    Trollface

    The protophobic X boson

    Is protophobia classed as a hate crime yet ?

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: The protophobic X boson

      Hmm. Might be a bit of a problem when the X Boson get's it's own twitter account.

    2. h4rm0ny

      Re: The protophobic X boson

      No, but it's a pretty negative trait.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    5th force?

    My dog after a big meal.

    Powerful enough to clear a room.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So, does this mean were going to need yet another re-written string or/and brain theory to try and also encompass this as well. And dont forget about the holographic universe theory, that will need a re-write to.

  19. Mpeler
    Coat

    Where's my fifth.....

    Could it be that they've bridged the fifth of forth?

    (Gets me hat, Boson-proof coat, tinfoil attachment.....)

  20. mark 177

    Why did it take so long to detect?

    The article says the X boson is 30 x the mass of the electron, and that it decays into an electron-positron pair.

    This implies that it loses 28 x electron masses when it decays. That's a lot of energy emitted - surely it should have been easily detectable previously?

    I suppose I have succumbed to some fundamental misunderstanding here. Can someone help me out?

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Typical

    I find it very sad that in this day and age we still can't see past the race of a particle. #darkmatterlivesmatter

  22. johnnyiannello

    The fifth force implies no existance of blackholes?

    Title: The fifth force implies no existance of blackholes?

    We know by now that Newton's formula of gravitational potential on gravity, w=G*m(r)/r, (with singularity for star radius=r=0, m(r) is the mass of the star),

    is modified by the presence of the "Fifth force" (or said anti-gravity effect) given from the formula of Fischbach E. 1986

    (see even Rujula A.D. 1986, Cowsik R. 1990, Thomas J. 1989, formula without singularity).

    The Fischbach's formula of the gravitational potential corrected is:

    w=G*m(r)*(1-a*exp(-r/L))/r

    where G is the universal gravitational constant, corrected by a=0.01:0.001, which is the intensity of the fifth force, called ipercharge,

    that depends on the relative amount of neutrons upon number of protons, in range L=100:1000 meters, of mass m of the star on radius r.

    The question of the title if the fifth force implies no existance of blackholes, is because there is no presence of singularity

    in the gravitational potential corrected by Fischbach E.:

    lim(r-->0)(1-a*exp(-r/L))/r=a/L. (theoreme of De Hospital for limits).

    We know that in General Relativity the Einstein's Field Equations derived from the Newtons formula, (see Weinberg S. 1972 chapter 7.1.3 and 7.1.12),

    have the presence of singularity for the radius of the star going to zero: r-->0, where the metric tensor A(r)=g(rr)=1/(1-2*G*m(r)/r),

    (see Weinberg in chapter 11.1.11) gives the presence of blackholes with the Schwarzschild radius (1=2*G*m(R)/R).

    But if we use the corrected gravitational potential of Fischbach E. 1986 without singularity, modifying the Einstein's Field Equations;

    probably the new Einstein's Field Equations shall become without the presence of singularity; it is amazing;

    giving a curvature that is bounded, with radius metric tensor A(r)=g(rr)<"curvature limit".

    Infact, the metric tensor in radius r is g(rr)=1/[1-(1-a*exp(-r/L))2mG/r] for the Schwarzschild solution (see Weinberg 8.1.7 and 8.2.11);

    and you can easily verify that it hasn't any singularity, (so g(rr) doesn't approach infinite value for any radius r, neither with Schwarzschild radius).

    So blackholes do not exist for the presence of the fifth force?

    But another question is the neutron stars with the fifth force: how are they phenomenologically? Do they exist? And how?

    The new Einstein's Field Equations depending on the formula of Fischbach 1986, looks as:

    R(ij) - 1/2 * g(ij) * R = {g(mn) * A(mn) + T(mn) * B(mn)} * T(ij) where the indices of tensors are i,j,m,n=1,2,3,4;

    where T(ij) is the energy momentum tensor, and R(ij) is the Ricci tensor, and g(ij) is the metric tensor. A(mn) and B(mn) are to be found.

    Bibliography:

    Cowsik R. et al. 1990: Phy.Rev. Lett.64:337

    Fischbach E. et al. 1986: Phy.Rev.Lett.57:3

    Rujula A.D. 1986: Phy.Lett.180:213.

    Thomas J. 1989: Phy.Rev.Lett.63:1963

    Weinberg S. 1972 "Gravitation and Cosmology" Wiley.

    Good Research. Bye.

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