Has physics found a fifth force?

In physics today, there is something called “the core theory” which asserts that everything consists of particles (such as electrons, protons and neutrons) and forces (namely, the strong and weak nuclear forces, electromagnetism and gravity) that arise out of fields (such as the Higgs field). 

Now, for decades, scientists have sought to reconcile the general theory of relativity (which explains the cosmos) and quantum mechanics (which explains the sub-atomic world), that are known to be inconsistent with one another, into a grand unified theory (GUT) or theory of everything (ToE).

Different ideas have been proposed. Loop quantum gravity – a theory of which Carlo Rovelli is both a leading advocate and developer – has now replaced string theory – which Stephen Hawking used to propose – as the best contender for a Theory of Everything (a term used by Hawking and others but not Rovelli).

Now there is an experiment, based at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) in Batavia, Illinois, USA, which searches for signs of new phenomena in physics by studying the behaviour of sub-atomic particles called muons. The latest stage of this experiment has come up with the proposition – yet to be conclusively confirmed – that there is a fifth force in physics which could radically transform how we understand, well, everything.

More information here.


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