Well, this certainly seems significant: According to recent reports out of Europe, scientists in Hungary may have discovered a fifth fundamental force of physics. Say that three times fast. Trace Dominguez investigates in today's DNews special report.
First, some background. Traditional physics has long proceeded from the assumption that there are four fundamental forces in the universe: gravity, electromagnetism, the strong nuclear force, and the weak nuclear force. These are the cornerstones of the rule book by which physicists order the universe, and mix their metaphors.
Physicists also believe that each fundamental force of nature has a corresponding subatomic particle. The photon, for instance, carries electromagnetic force. The strong nuclear force is carried by the gluon. Theoretically, gravity is carried by a particle called a graviton. Finally, the weak nuclear forces is affiliated with a particular kind of boson, named after physicist Satyendra Nath Bose.
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Now then, about those Hungarians: Physicists at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences were researching the concept of dark photons -- a theorized particle related to dark matter -- when they came across an interesting anomaly. The data suggest this anomaly may actually be a heretofore unknown variety of subatomic particle: a "protophobic X boson."
The science gets very complex indeed, but the radically simplified upshot is this: Just as those four other subatomic particles have a corresponding fundamental force, it appears that this fifth variety should have one too. And if it does, it may prove to be the key to understanding dark matter, which is a whole 'nother conversation.
The Hungarian team actually first reported their findings back in 2015, but the matter was brought to much wider attention when a group of U.S. researchers published its own analysis of the data. Since then, every theoretical physicist and his brother, and sister, have been taking a crack at the conundrum. Scientists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research are looking to confirm the findings, while others are skeptical of the entire ball of subatomic wax.
Check out Trace's report for more details, and keep in mind that the very Standard Model of Physics may be at stake. No pressure.
-- Glenn McDonald
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