Scientists at Fermilab close in on fifth force of nature
Scientists near Chicago say they may be getting closer to discovering the existence of a new force of nature. They have found more evidence that sub-atomic particles, called muons, are not behaving in the way predicted by the current theory of sub-atomic physics.
Scientists believe that an unknown force could be acting on the muons. More data will be needed to confirm these results, but if they are verified, it could mark the beginning of a revolution in physics. All of the forces we experience every day can be reduced to just four categories: gravity, electromagnetism, the strong force and the weak force. These four fundamental forces govern how all the objects and particles in the Universe interact with each other. The findings have been made at a US particle accelerator facility called Fermilab. They build on results announced in 2021 in which the Fermilab team first suggested the possibility of a fifth force of nature.
Since then, the research team has gathered more data and reduced the uncertainty of their measurements by a factor of two, according to Dr Brendan Casey, a senior scientist at Fermilab. "We're really probing new territory. We're determining the (measurements) at a better precision than it has ever been seen before." In an experiment with the catchy name 'g minus two (g-2)' the researchers accelerate the sub-atomic particles called muons around a 15m-diameter ring, where they are circulated about 1,000 times at nearly the speed of light. The researchers found that they might be behaving in a way that can't be explained by the current theory, which is called the Standard Model, because of the influence of a new force of nature.
Although the evidence is strong, the Fermilab team hasn't yet got conclusive proof. They had hoped to have it by now, but uncertainties in what the standard model says the amount of wobbling in muons should be, has increased, because of developments in theoretical physics. In essence, the goal posts have been moved for the experimental physicists.