Science textbooks have incessantly evinced that the universe is a collaborative effort of science’s ‘four weird sisters’ and that these ‘four weird sisters’ are the cauldrons of necessity. These are nothing but the four fundamental forces of nature: gravitational, electromagnetic, strong nuclear and weak nuclear. However, a litany of research conducted recently have hinted at an enigmatic fifth fundamental force of nature. This fifth fundamental force of nature is predicted to elucidate the existence of dark matter and lay down the foundations of a completely new field of study.
This ‘Modern Gold Rush’ of Physics commenced when a group of research scientists at the Hungarian Academy of Science decided to embark on a daunting journey to unearth what physicists call ‘the dark photon’. Dark photons are bundles of energy (quanta) that act as force carriers and are somehow interlinked to dark matter. Although our concept of dark photons is as nebulous as almost everything else in physics, the team at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences concluded to carry on with their research. They bombarded a lithium-7 nuclei with protons to create a berrylium-8 nuclei. As the embryonic nuclei began to decay, an anomaly was detected. Instead of just emitting electrons and positrons, the nuclei were emitting something clandestine and eccentric. The team suggested that these might be dark photons. Alas! The team had detected something else entirely!
The data anomaly was reported to instead be ‘protophobic X boson’ since a research team from the University of California determined that a protophobic X boson decays in a way similar to the particle in the experiment conducted. Further research is being carried out to verify these claims. The particle is predicted to exert a force over the width of an atomic nucleus and hence might be responsible for a fifth fundamental force of nature.
The protophobic X boson is thirty-four times more massive than an electron, but what exactly is it? To comprehend what the convoluted name (that phonetically sounds similar to the random planets Doctor Who might visit) represents, we must familiarize ourselves with what a boson is. Boson is a group of subatomic particles theorized by Einstein and Satyendra Nath Bose. Bosons can exist in multiple states with an integral spin or a zero spin. The spin we are talking about here is not what some might relish doing in the park, but the spin here informs us of how a particle looks like from different directions. For instance, a particle of spin 0 looks like a dot and same from all sides while a particle of spin 1 is like a single-headed arrow and a particle with a spin 2 is like a double-headed arrow. Bosons interact and hence we can feel their presence vividly.
Each fundamental force of nature has its own corresponding subatomic particles acting as a force carrier. Photons are the force carriers of electromagnetic force; strong nuclear force is carried by gluons; weak nuclear is carried by W and Z bosons while gravity is theoretically carried by graviton. So, the protophobic X boson might be the force carrier of an entirely new field of force, which does not react with protons but interacts weakly with electrons and neutrons.
The lead researchers from the UC Irvine team have already declared protophobic X boson to be the final nail in the coffin for our research on discovering dark matter and a grander fundamental force. Research is still underway but if the discovery is validated, it would be the first key to unlock the secrets of the universe. To know more about the forces of nature, look out for the next articles. So, keep reading!!! And continue to speculate, innovate till you constipate!