Ever wondered if there may be another fundamental force of nature adding to the four already-known forces: gravity, electromagnetism, strong and weak nuclear forces? Luckily for you, physicists may have detected a boson that may lead to a fifth fundamental force of nature. First detected by a group of Hungarian researchers as an anomaly in radioactive decay, the discovery of an extremely-light boson that was only 34 times heavier than an electron was largely overlooked. However, theoretical physicists led by Jonathan Feng from the University of California, Irvine, tested the Hungarian’s anomaly, and concluded that it could be evidence for a fifth fundamental force, calling for ubiquitous attention.
Hungarian physicists spotted an anomaly in radioactive decay, in which they collided beams of protons onto thin lithium targets that created excited nuclei of beryllium-8, which decayed into ordinary beryllium-8 and pairs of electron-positron particles. This resulted in the discovery of a super-light boson that was only 34 times heavier than an electron. Although the paper made it past peer review, and was published on January 26th, 2016, its results received very little attention.
However, a group of theoretical physicists from the University of California, Irvine, recreated the experiment and in receiving the same result as the Hungarians, developed a theory. Since this boson may be a force-carrying particle, and is not associated with any existing theory, it may be the force-carrying particle for a fifth fundamental force. They showed that the data didn’t conflict with any previous experiments, and could be evidence for a fifth force.
This boson was dubbed the term, the “x-boson”, for its use is still unknown. Despite its obscurity, the x-boson has many intriguing features. It is protophobic, meaning that it does not interact with protons, only associating itself with electrons and neutrons (neutrophilic). With this, its range is extremely weak, and very limited at best. Its mass is also extremely light, weighing a total of 16.7 megaelectronvolts (MeV), which is only 34 times the mass of an electron. However, despite the miniscule size of the x-boson, it may be the force-carrying particle for dark matter. Which, in this case, it would be then called a “dark photon.”
However, with only a few tests, not enough evidence is found to confirm its existence. More tests are to be implemented. However, if more evidence were to support the theory of the fifth force, this boson could be the answer to dark matter.
Not only would it just help detect dark matter, which makes up 27% of the universe’s total mass, it would help us, as the human race, unlock secrets of the universe. It could provide aid in helping us better understand the universe we live in. For example, galaxies are rotating with extremely high speeds that the gravity generated by their observable matter could not possibly be enough to hold them together. This is also true of galaxy clusters; they should have torn themselves up long ago. However, with the possibility of dark matter, it may be the answer to the lack of observable matter creating such strong gravitational pulls. Dark matter may provide the extra mass needed, in order to generate the extra gravity they need to stay intact.
The discovery of a fifth force may answer myriads of questions pertaining to our universe. It would help us better understand how our universe works, how galaxies and stars came to be, and would answer so many of our questions. Just knowing the nature of the universe is incredible and understanding it on the fundamental level would be astonishing. Textbooks would be rewritten, adding in the new fundamental force of nature along with new discoveries that arise with it. Society would accept these new findings and it would become a way of life. New technological advances, as well as advances in astronautics would arise once we understand the universe, and we may extend our bloodlines to other planets. A fifth fundamental force of nature could help us better understand the universe we live in and society may revolve around new discoveries. All it takes is time and further testing.