Sunday , January 17 2021

Have scientists discovered a fifth force of nature ?, Hacker News


Afifth force of nature could have been discovered after scientists carried out a “Nobel-prize worthy” experiment which could revolutionize our understanding of the world.

Physics centers on the theory that four forces control our universe – gravity, electromagnetism, the weak nuclear force, and the strong force.

But scientists from Hungary have published groundbreaking findings which show what appears to be a fifth force at work.

Researchers from the Institute for Nuclear Research at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences studied how an excited helium atom emitted light as it decayed.

They noticed that the particles split at the unusual angle of 115 degrees –a phenomenon which cannot be explained by our current knowledge of physics.

Presuming it was not the result of an error by scientists in the laboratory, it could be an unknown force which caused the particles to separate in the strange way they did.

Scientists have described it as a “photophobic force” because the behavior of the particles – christened X 17 – suggested they were “afraid of light”. *****

Jonathan Feng, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of California, said the finding is incredibly impressive and could pave the way to uncovering even more currently unknown world forces.

“If these results can be replicated then this would be a no-brainer Nobel Prize,” he told CNN.

“And there’s no reason to stop at the fifth – there could be a sixth, seventh, and eighth force.”

If physicists are able to achieve the same result in the laboratory again, they can then work on understanding how that force operates and develop ways of harnessing its power.

The discovery is seen as taking us one step closer to the Holy Grail of physics: “unified field theory”. This is a single theoretical framework which succinctly explains all the forces of nature.

It was whatGerman-born theoretical physicist Albert Einsteinspent his life working towards but never achieved.

Attila Krasznahorkay, the study’s lead scientist, said the finding is similar to one the team made three years ago when they were studying the decaying process of a different isotope, beryllium-8.

They saw electrons and positrons splitting off from the atom at the unusual angle of 140 degrees, in the same way as with The Helium Atom.

Their findings were published in one of the most prestigious physics journals, Physical Review Letters.

Mr Feng is convinced that the only way to explain these two occurrences is there being an undetected fifth force.

He said there is only a one in a trillion chance that the two sets of results were caused by anything else.

Now that two experiments on different atoms have yielded similar results, he said all that is left to do is test a third type of atom and see if the same result can be produced a third time.

If it did, that would “blow the cover off this thing”, he said.

Other nuclear physicists around the world have been looking for errors in the Hungarians’ work but so far not been able to find anything.

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