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- Researchers at Fermilab might have uncovered probable evidence of a fifth force of nature.
- Muons, sub-atomic particles, behave differently than current physics predicts.
- If a fifth force is confirmed, it could be one of the most significant scientific breakthroughs in a century, since Einstein's relativity theories.
Evidence grows for a fifth force
Scientists at the Fermilab in the United States have found increasing evidence suggesting the existence of a new force of nature.
This comes from observing muons, sub-atomic particles, that aren't behaving as our current understanding of physics would anticipate.
Named 'g minus two (g-2)', experiments at the Fermilab involve accelerating muons around a 15m-diameter ring. Circulating approximately 1,000 times at almost the speed of light, researchers observed the muons behaving unusually.
This unexpected behavior might be due to the influence of a new force, not accounted for in the current standard model of physics.
Challenges in proving the discovery
While the evidence from Fermilab is compelling, it isn't conclusive yet. But the Fermilab team believes they'll have the required data within two years.
They face competition, however, as a team at Europe's Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is also on the hunt for this discovery.
"Measuring behaviour that doesn't agree with the predictions of the Standard Model is the holy grail for particle physics. It would fire the starting-gun for a revolution in our understanding because the model has withstood all experimental tests for more than 50 years", says Dr. Mitesh Patel from Imperial College London, who is working with the LHC.
For half a century, the Standard Model has been our roadmap to understanding the universe's fundamental particles and forces. It explains the interactions of everything from atoms to the four primary forces of nature.
Yet, muons, similar to electrons, have shown behavior in the recent experiment that doesn't align with the model's predictions.
If a fifth force is confirmed, it could be one of the most significant scientific breakthroughs in a century, since Einstein's relativity theories.
Implications for our understanding of the Universe
Unexplained phenomena like the accelerated separation of galaxies after the Big Bang or the unexpected speed of spinning galaxies suggest there's more to discover. These mysteries, attributed to unknown forces like dark energy and particles like dark matter, might find answers if the fifth force is confirmed.
If confirmed, this fifth force could reshape our understanding of the universe.