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A new, previously unknown force has been discovered

A new, previously unknown force has been discovered

According to the announcement made last week, a group of scientists from the Fermilab Particle Physics Research Institute (Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, FNAL) operating in Batavia, near Chicago, has identified a new, hitherto unknown force of nature, which can be detected in most cases. the far corners of the universe as well as in our immediate environment. If the American researchers’ discovery can be confirmed, it could put modern physics on a new footing.

They find a trace of the force missing from the Standard Model

The Fermilab research team found more evidence that subatomic particles called muons do not behave as predicted by the currently valid model of subatomic physics, the Standard Model. The Standard Model of particle physics is a quantum theory that describes electromagnetism, the weak and strong interactions, and fundamental elementary particles, which is also compatible with quantum mechanics and special relativity.

The Standard Model attempts to describe the general functioning of the universe. This model summarizes how particles and three of the four fundamental forces, the strong, weak and electromagnetic interaction, relate to each other. They fail to include the fourth interaction, gravity. A unified theory is the theory that reconciles relativity and quantum theorySource:

So far, almost all experimental tests have confirmed his predictions, the only exception being the “God particle.” The existence of the Higgs boson was proven experimentally by CERN researchers in 2012. (The Higgs boson is responsible for the mass of other particles.)

Traces of the decay of the Higgs boson at the Large Hadron Collider’s CMS detectorSource: CERN, Collaboration, CMS; Taylor, L.;

Experiments by Fermilab scientists indicate that a hitherto unknown force can act on muons. But if this discovery is successful, it could mark the beginning of a new revolution in theoretical physics.

IceCube neutrino detector. In the figure, we see the Cherenkov radiation trace of a muon caused by the presence of an incoming neutrino in the detectorSource: IceCube Collaboration

Scientists have based their findings so far on Journal of Physical Review Letters Published in a trade journal.

For now, scientists remain cautious

According to our current knowledge, there are a total of four forces—electromagnetism, gravity, weak and strong interaction—that govern how objects and particles in the universe interact with each other.

Fermilab’s research group has begun the measurements that led to the just-published discovery in 2021.

The building block of the Fermilab Institute for Particle Research near ChicagoSource: Fermilab

According to Dr. Brendan Casey, chief scientist at the institute, thanks to the experiment conducted so far, the research team has been able to double the uncertainty factor of the measurements. “In fact, we’re exploring a whole new area. (Measurements) are defined more accurately than ever before– stated Dr. Brendan Casey. During the experiment called “g minus two (g-2)”, the researchers studied subatomic particles called muons in a 15-meter-diameter particle accelerator that – with the help of superconducting magnets – accelerated to near the speed of light for about a thousand cycles.

The “g minus 2 (g-2)” experiment was carried out in the Institute’s 15-meter diameter acceleratorSource: Vermelba / Riddar Hahn

The researchers found that muons behave very differently from what would follow from the currently accepted Standard Model, and thus came to the conclusion that muons can only behave as they do under the influence of a new, hitherto unknown force of nature.

It cannot be explained by current theory.

Although the evidence so far is very strong, Fermilab scientists remain cautious, emphasizing that the results so far must be confirmed with new additional measurements.

This may be the holy grail of theoretical physics

The American researchers believe that the remaining theoretical uncertainties will narrow enough within two years to make their discovery absolutely certain. On the other hand, the competing team of scientists at the European Large Hadron Collider (LHC) operating in Switzerland hopes to outpace their American colleagues in this matter.

CERN is one of the leading institutes for particle physics researchSource: Adrian Stvorecz

Dr Mitch Patel, of Imperial College London – who is also one of the LHC physicists – stated in BBC News– that one of the biggest breakthroughs in theoretical physics ever would be if they came up with experimental results that contradicted the Standard Model.

Behavior that does not match the predictions of the Standard Model is the holy grail of particle physics.”

– Dr. Explain the importance of discovery. Mitch Battle. If the Fermilab research team’s hypothesis is confirmed, it could be said that it will be one of the biggest scientific breakthroughs since Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity.

Albert Einstein created the general theory of relativity and the concept of space-timeSource: Popper Photo / Getty Images

This is because the fifth force (and the particles associated with it) are not part of the current Standard Model of particle physics. It has long been known among researchers that there are phenomena described as “physics beyond the Standard Model”,

Because the current theory cannot explain many of the phenomena that astronomers observe in the universe.

An example of this is the accelerating expansion of the universe, which cannot be explained by the traditional model, but only by the interference of an unknown and hypothetical force, the so-called dark energy.

The accelerating expansion of the universe cannot be explained by the standard theory eitherSource: NASA

But galaxies are also spinning faster than expected, and researchers believe this is due to invisible particles called dark matter, which are also not part of the Standard Model. Therefore, the new discovery may become the much-sought holy grail of particle physics.

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