Scientists at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), a particle accelerator facility in Chicago, believe they may have discovered a fifth force of nature which would revolutionize physics as we know it.
This week, according to a statement released by the University of Washington, the scientists behind the Muon g-2 (g minus 2) experiment released the world’s most precise measurement yet of the anomalous magnetic moment of the muon.
What is a muon?
Muons are sub-atomic particles similar to electrons, but with a much greater mass. They are a fundamental particle, which means they are not made up of any simpler particles.
“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 Casey, a senior scientist at Fermilab, said.
They believe that there may be a previously unknown force that is acting on the muons.
If true, this would mean that there is a fifth force of nature in addition to the four fundamental forces: gravity, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces.
“The difference of g from 2 — or g minus 2 — can be attributed to the muon’s interactions with particles in a quantum foam that surrounds it. These particles blink in and out of existence and, like subatomic “dance partners,” grab the muon’s “hand” and change the way the muon interacts with the magnetic field,” the scientists’ explain.
“The Standard Model incorporates all known ‘dance partner’ particles and predicts how the quantum foam changes g. But there might be more. Physicists are excited about the possible existence of as-yet-undiscovered particles that contribute to the value of g-2 — and would open the window to exploring new physics.”
“By comparing theories built using the Standard Model to experimental results, physicists have been trying to discern whether the theory is complete — that is, whether all particles and forces are known — or if there is physics ‘beyond the Standard Model.’ Muons have been playing an increasing role in the gentle tug-of-war between theorists and experimentalists,” reads the UW statement.
The research team’s findings have been published in the journal Physical Review Letters.