Every high school student knows that the universe is governed by four forces of nature - gravity, weakness, electromagnetism, and strong interaction - and anything that turns out to be different will change everything we know about everything … or at least physics.
Be prepared because this moment may have already arrived. Researchers in Hungary claim to have discovered a new particle that exhibits the fifth force - and that could explain dark matter … provided we survive the end of physics as we know it.
In an article “Observation of anomalous internal pair formation in 8Be: a possible indication of a light neutral boson”, recently submitted for peer review, researchers from the Institute for Nuclear Research in Hungary describe new evidence they have found confirming the existence of X17, a strangely behaving particle according to - apparently emitted during the decay of radioactive beryllium. They calculated that the mysterious particle has a mass of almost 17 megaelectronvolts and named it X17.
In their latest experiments, the researchers observed X17 again, this time in the process of decay of helium atoms. But an even bigger discovery is that the particle is a boson - which means it's not ordinary matter. If this is not ordinary matter, then it could be … dark matter! This would make X17 the proof of the fifth fundamental force and everything connected with it, in fact, existing.
The European Organization for Nuclear Research has used the Large Hadron Collider to search for X17 particles and have yet to find a single one. The new study operates at a much lower energy level than the LHC, so it may offer new data to aid in this search - if the evidence is first checked by peer reviewers. Needless to say, not everyone (well, not every particle physicist) is willing to accept the fifth particle idea and the subsequent changes it would make to the Standard Model of Particle Physics (a theory describing electromagnetic, weak and strong force interactions). However, any explanation for dark matter, which is believed to make up 85% of the universe, would move us to a different level of understanding of the universe.
"It will be a window to some aspect of the universe that we are completely unaware of. Not only will it be obvious a Nobel Prize, because it will be a new fundamental particle, but this particular particle does not fit into the existing table of particles."
Matt Strasler, a theoretical physicist at Harvard University who was not involved in the study, said he thought it was an incredible discovery. So is Daniel Alves, a particle physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
“It is possible that this particle is part of a larger 'dark sector', which means that it can also interact with dark matter particles. It could be a portal to another world.”