A quick physics lesson; There are four forces of nature – gravity, electromagnetism, weak nuclear force, and strong nuclear force. But now it seems like scientists could be on the verge of discovering a fifth force of nature.
An international team of scientists and researchers from the University of Waterloo and the National Institute of Standards and Technology have used a new technique to identify a fifth force. The known forces of nature are part of the Standard Model which explains the interaction of particles and forces at the smallest scale. Many scientists believe that the fifth force of nature is necessary to explain the subatomic particles’ interaction such as silicon crystals since they are widely used in electronics.
For this research, neurons were aimed at silicon crystals and the result of that impact was monitored to get an idea of how the interaction of these particles could be explained through other known forces of nature. The researchers were able to achieve a high level of sensitivity using a new method and measure the key properties of neutrons for the first time in 20 years.
According to Dmitry Pushin, one of the scientists of the study, “This was a multi-year experiment, and we had great results that are technically exciting and opens the door to future technologies.” While this experiment didn’t really prove the existence of the fifth force, scientists were still able to find a way to do just that. By studying the heat-related vibrations in silicon crystals and experimenting with germanium, they’re hoping to detect the traces of the fifth force.
In the future, scientists want to repeat this experiment in a cryogenic environment which could show the behavior of silicon crystals in a quantum ground state. While lower temperatures don’t affect the movement of quantum objects, they could prove to be useful in improving the accuracy of the measurements.