Physicists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory near Chicago say they are on the brink of confirming the existence of an unprecedented fifth force of nature.
If verified, the discovery of a new fifth force of nature would reshape our knowledge of subatomic physics and stand as one of the most significant scientific breakthroughs in the last 100 years.
The current understanding of the universe involves four fundamental forces of nature: gravity, electromagnetism, and strong and weak nuclear forces. These fundamental forces describe how everything in the universe interacts with each other under the theory known as the Standard Model.
The Standard Model has stood as an unyielding pillar in particle physics for over half a century. It accurately depicts how objects and particles in our universe interact. However, recent findings suggest we may be on the cusp of adding a fifth force of nature to the list.
Enigmatic sub-atomic particles known as muons are at the center of this burgeoning revelation. Structurally, muons are similar to electrons but 200 times heavier.
In 2021, Fermilab scientists discovered that when placed in powerful superconducting magnets, muons exhibited a motion that could not be predicted using the current Standard Model of physics. This discrepancy led to the initial tantalizing hypothesis that an unknown fifth force of nature might be at play.
In the initial discovery, physicists acknowledged there was a one in a 40,000 chance that the results were a statistical fluke, translating to a confidence level labeled as 4.1 sigma.
Since then, researchers say they have reduced the uncertainty of their measurements by a factor of two, increasing the precision of results and offering unprecedented insight into muon behavior.
“We’re really probing new territory. We’re determining the muon magnetic moment at a better precision than it has ever been seen before,” Brendan…