A new study suggests that there is another elemental force at work in the universe ... and the implications are profound.
According to CBS News, a group of scientists have detected a possible fifth force of nature that could be a sort of missing link between "normal" and "dark" matter.
The lead author of the study, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of California, Irvine, named Jonathan Feng, called the findings "revolutionary" if confirmed, saying, "For decades, we've known of four fundamental forces: gravitation, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces. If confirmed by further experiments, this discovery of a possible fifth force would completely change our understanding of the universe, with consequences for the unification of forces and dark matter."
This all started when Feng and his colleagues began studying data recently gathered by experimental nuclear physicists at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. That team was trying to find "dark photons," which, if proven to exist themselves, could confirm the existence of dark matter, which is thought to make up about 85 percent of all matter in the universe.
But instead of finding more proof of the elusive dark matter, the Hungarians came across evidence of a previously unknown particle that was 30 times heavier than an electron. Feng and his crew, upon further investigation, deduced that this mysterious particle, which they dubbed a "protophobic X boson," could indicate a fifth force of nature.
Feng said that the potential fifth force could link to the other established forces as "manifestations of one grander, more fundamental force" and could even be evidence of a "dark sector" of matter parallel to our own universe of "normal" matter.
To be honest, I'm simplifying this as I go along because the concepts are brain-busting to a layman. Dark matter? A parallel sector of the universe? A grand, mysterious force? It makes the mind reel for sure. The Feng group cautioned that their conclusions are strictly preliminary for now, but that further experiments may provide more pieces to the puzzle and even confirmation.
If you want to give the study a shot, you can find it here. The universe sure is a weird and mysterious place, isn't it?