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There May Be A Fifth Force of Nature, Study Suggests (space.com) 240

According to a paper published in the journal Physical Review Letters, physicists at the University of California, Irvine, may have discovered a previously unknown subatomic particle that's evidence of a fifth fundamental force of nature. Space.com reports: "[Professor of physics and astronomy Jonathan Feng] and his colleagues analyzed data gathered recently by experimental nuclear physicists at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, who were trying to find 'dark photons' -- hypothetical indicators of mysterious dark matter. Dark matter is thought to make up about 85 percent of all matter in the universe, but it neither absorbs nor emits light, so it's impossible to detect directly. 'The experimentalists weren't able to claim that it was a new force,' Feng said. 'They simply saw an excess of events that indicated a new particle, but it was not clear to them whether it was a matter particle or a force-carrying particle.' The new work by Feng and his team suggests that the Hungarians found not a 'dark photon' but rather a 'protophobic X boson' -- a strange particle whose existence could indicate a fifth force of nature. The known electromagnetic force acts on protons and electrons, but this newfound particle apparently interacts only with protons and neutrons, and then only at very short distances, researchers said. The potential fifth force may be linked to the electromagnetic and strong and weak nuclear forces, as 'manifestations of one grander, more fundamental force,' Feng said. It's also possible that the universe of 'normal' matter and forces has a parallel 'dark' sector, with its own matter and forces, Feng added. 'It's possible that these two sectors talk to each other and interact with one another through somewhat veiled but fundamental interactions,' Feng said. 'This dark-sector force may manifest itself as this protophobic force we're seeing as a result of the Hungarian experiment. In a broader sense, it fits in with our original research to understand the nature of dark matter.'"

Locke2005 writes: I've always speculated that there might be forces of nature that we never observed because they were on a much larger or smaller scale than we could detect easily. But now Jonathan Feng, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of California, Irvine, is suggesting there may actually be a fifth force. Of course, this might vanish just like the Higgs Boson evidence did. Can anybody explain better what it was they detected, and why it is being interpreted as evidence of a previously unknown force?
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There May Be A Fifth Force of Nature, Study Suggests

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 16, 2016 @02:06AM (#52709973)

    Perhaps you're thinking of the 750 GeV "bump" that turned out to be a statistical deviation?

  • Higgs still there (Score:5, Informative)

    by bruce_the_loon ( 856617 ) on Tuesday August 16, 2016 @02:14AM (#52710003) Homepage

    The evidence for the Higgs Boson didn't disappear, it was possible evidence for a heavier particle than Higgs that has been shown to be a statistical fluke.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The debunked new particle referred to the so-called 750 GeV excess. And yeah, it was NOT the Higgs boson.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by lgw ( 121541 )

      Further, we know what the "fifth force" is: we call it Dark Energy.

      Once upon a time Feynman gave a lecture explaining how we knew there wasn't a fifth force, because a very precise experiment had been done to measure the attraction between two objects, and it was exactly what we expected from gravity. No mystery left to explain.

      Well, two ways that can be wrong, and it looks like he might have been wrong in both ways: a force which was simply to weak to measure by any earthbound experiment, or a force which

      • ...As for the latter: we still don't really know how dark matter works, and maybe it has its own forces (some oddball ones have been proposed).

        And that is the motivation discussed in the cited paper, that this could be related to dark matter.

        Asserting that we "know" that dark energy is a fifth force, in the same sense as the other four forces in the Standard Model, is claiming more than we actually know at this point. Maybe it is, but there are no good theories at this point that make it one, and it could be something quite different from the particle/force models physicists have been working with. Physics derived from the behavior of the Cosmolog

        • by lgw ( 121541 )

          "in the same sense as the other four forces in the Standard Model" is more than I clamed. Gravity still isn't really a force in that sense. But dark energy clearly causes mass to accelerate, and is thus a force (though I guess you can argue semantics about anything). Once would expect any new force to be outside the Standard Model at this point.

  • by dohzer ( 867770 ) on Tuesday August 16, 2016 @02:27AM (#52710043) Homepage

    The fifth force is... LOVE!? Who's been screwing with this thing?

    • by pellik ( 193063 ) on Tuesday August 16, 2016 @06:09AM (#52710733)
      It's not love. In fact it's not a new force at all. It's the long speculated interaction between stable groups of 5 or more Higgs Boson particles described as in Higgs Voltron Boson. It's said to be at least an order of magnitude more powerful than individual Higgs Boson particles could be.
    • Let's jump into a black hole so we can float inside the time-bee-hive that opens a window to the daughter's childhood room!
      Yes, that movie was actually great with a "Oh Hell No! WTF ?!" ending.
    • Now for real. How does the new proposed fifth force of nature compares to the other proposals? A not so quick search on Google's pages behind the first one results in articles dated as early as 1986 and before [mit.edu]. Your results may vary: https://www.google.com.br/#q=fifth+force+of+nature&safe=strict&tbas=0&start=130 [google.com.br]
    • Wasn't that the Fifth Element?
    • No, that's the Fifth Element.
      Signed, Mr. Buzzkill.

    • The fifth force is... LOVE!? Who's been screwing with this thing?

      According to some work done in the 1960's by an Englishman named Lennon, the other forces of nature are largely irrelevant .

  • by Tough Love ( 215404 ) on Tuesday August 16, 2016 @02:41AM (#52710089)

    Attempting to up the hype a bit... Physical Review Letters is the well respected publication where Einstein his paper 1936 “Do gravitational waves exist?”, in which he concludes they do not, which turned out to be wrong. A couple of takeaways here: 1) Physical Review Letters is a forum for heavyweight players in the physics world; 2) that doesn't mean it's always right; 3) Einstein predicted gravity waves in 1916. Later he changed his mind and thought that he was wrong, but he was wrong about that.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 16, 2016 @04:21AM (#52710405)

      A slight clarification: the journal in which Einstein published his 1936 paper is Physical Review. Physical Review Letters is a spin-off, established in 1958, for short, significant papers - so, if anything, it's more prestigious (though more likely to contain speculative results which may later turn out to be wrong).

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        A further clarification: Einstein submitted his 1936 paper to Physical Review, but after a negative response from the referee, he published it in the Journal of the Franklin Institute instead. This was in the early days of peer review: he was actually surprised and offended that the editor at Physical Review had shown the manuscript to another physicist. There's a slideshow about it here [uark.edu].

    • by Roger W Moore ( 538166 ) on Tuesday August 16, 2016 @07:13AM (#52710973) Journal

      Attempting to up the hype a bit

      Please don't. The paper contains a wildly speculative idea which, while technically possible, is based on a single, unconfirmed experimental result. Hundreds of these are published every year even in PRL and the overwhelming majority do not pan out. This is just the very early stage in the scientific brain storming process looking for new ideas which might be right and at this stage almost none of them are. The time to start getting interested is when another experiment appears to have data confirming one of the predictions of this new theory - and even then it does not always work out!

      • The time to start getting interested is when another experiment appears to have data confirming one of the predictions of this new theory - and even then it does not always work out!

        I dunno, I find myself just as interested in the crazy new unconfirmed results and speculative additions/revisions to our model of the universe as I am when most turn out to be wrong...and maybe a few turn out to be correct! I suppose I enjoy this small window I have into the process of experimental physics because I have enough patience for a result to evolve...but not nearly enough to get a ph.D and do it myself.

      • Attempting to up the hype a bit

        Please don't. The paper contains a wildly speculative idea which, while technically possible, is based on a single, unconfirmed experimental result.

        This. The first thing I noticed in TFA (I know, that was my first mistake) was the headline leading with "Physicists confirm"... and then trailing off -- before the end of the headline! -- into speculative weasel words like "possible", "if true", "may be", etc. Which is it, phys.org? Did scientists confirm it, or is it just a possible discovery?

        Then people wonder why scientific discoveries are so badly misreported.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The summary and the PHYS.org article link to Arxiv, not a peer-reviewed Phys Rev Letters article. The Arvix article is also way too long to be published in PRL. So what gives? Where is the peer-reviewed article?

  • by qeveren ( 318805 ) on Tuesday August 16, 2016 @03:23AM (#52710241)

    It seems kind of bewildering to me that signs weren't seen of its existence decades ago. oO

    • by lkcl ( 517947 )

      i've been studying this for 25 years (as a reverse-engineer from a software background). i've started to have to go to the field of optics to fully understand why it is that this "extra force or maybe a particle" has not been discovered. look up the work by "Ido Kaminer" and his team and you find that (for the purposes of creating "optical tweezers" - google it) it's possible to create phase-coherent X-Ray beams that *LITERALLY* bend in parabolic arcs or even semi-circles, and as they do so the phase rota

      • by NotAPK ( 4529127 )

        Love it. Almost as good as time cube.

        Your assertions are absolutely fine to make: but to convince me, I'll need to see some evidence. Ideally some repeatable experiments showing that your insight on the fundamental structure of the universe has some merit.

        Looking forward to it, I too am a physicist and am frustrated that over the course of my professional career (not quite 25 years) these fundamental questions have not been answered.

      • by qeveren ( 318805 )

        Anime bendy-beams are a thing, no need for a fifth force... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

    • Simple, really. The internet had to become become enough to amplify the effects.

  • Hmmmm (Score:5, Funny)

    by lowkeyknight ( 4235199 ) on Tuesday August 16, 2016 @03:48AM (#52710309)
    Hard to see, the dark side is. but Once you start down the dark research path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will.
    • Hard to see, the dark side is. but Once you start down the dark research path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will.

      Yes, but it will also make you powerfull!

      Don't you know that all the great discoveries were make by monomanical megalomanical maniacs in search of greater power?

  • I suggest we call it "The Force"

  • by Katatsumuri ( 1137173 ) on Tuesday August 16, 2016 @05:33AM (#52710581)
    So far the evidence is limited to one experiment. There will be more of them within a year or two from different teams [nature.com], then we can have more confidence. So far, there are interesting, internally consistent possible explanations from two teams for this anomaly, but they are not so easy to fit in the current model as to accept them immediately. For all we know, this may go the same way as the FTL neutrinos, etc.
  • I am just waiting for the torrent of New Age clickbait on my facebook feed saying that physics has finally found evidence of the mystical magical quantum life force energy that their super-dooper-quantum-yoga tradition has known for centuries.

    • by Maritz ( 1829006 )
      I don't really see how they could amp the bullshit up any further to be honest. It's already on 11/10.
  • Science has already well established Chuck Norris as the 5th
  • Back in the 1980's there was a reanalysis of some old gravity measurements made by Roland von Eotvos which suggested that gravity might have a short-range, composition-dependent component, a "fifth force". This inspired a number of experiments, with some positives and some negative results. Eventually, the positive results were all explained and the fifth force went away.

    Coincidentally, in regard to this recent research, one of the hard to explain positive results also came out of UC Irvine.

  • by starless ( 60879 ) on Tuesday August 16, 2016 @07:40AM (#52711123)

    This blog entry by a senior scientist at Fermi Lab has interesting comments on previous experimental results from the Hungarian group the UCI theoretical work is based on:

    http://www.livescience.com/552... [livescience.com]

    What about the Hungarian group? I know none of them personally, but the article was published in Physical Review Letters — a chalk mark in the win column. However, the group has also published two previous papers in which comparable anomalies were observed, including a possible particle with a mass of 12 million electron volts and a second publication claiming the discovery of a particle with a mass of about 14 million electron volts. Both of these claims were subsequently falsified by other experiments.

    Further, the Hungarian group has never satisfactorily disclosed what error was made that resulted in these erroneous claims. Another possible red flag is that the group rarely publishes data that doesn't claim anomalies. That is improbable. In my own research career, most publications were confirmation of existing theories. Anomalies that persist are very, very, rare.

  • My teacher said gravity isn't a force, it's "just" geometry. Electromagnetic and weak is the after certain energy levels. On the other hand we used to count magnetic and electric forces as related but separate.

  • It penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter.

  • Peter Gabriel just called from Scotland. He says it's the Fifth of Force.

  • What about charm, persuasion, uncertainty and bloody-mindedness?

  • Not much is known about the nature of the strong force. Perhaps this is some more "color" on the nature of the strong force (which is suspected to bind protons and neutrons, but in it's "color-ed" form is suspected to bind quarks together).

  • We just need to add another 14 dimensions..

    Ok - how about doing some real world experiments ..

    Too much BS already this week...

"You know, we've won awards for this crap." -- David Letterman

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