Hungarian physicists may have found the elusive fifth force of nature that could lead to the “holy grail” of science: a unified grand theory that explains all known phenomena, CNN reports.
Scientists at the Institute for Nuclear Research at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences have published experimental results they registered during the decay of a helium isotope.
What they found was that while an excited helium isotope emitted light in order to return to its base state, the particles split at an unusual 115 degrees angle, something that could only be explained by a new force in addition to the existing four (gravity, electromagnetism, along with strong and weak nuclear forces).
The Hungarian team’s lead scientist, Attila Krasznahorkay, told CNN that this was the second time his team had detected a new particle, which they call X17, because they calculated its mass at 17 megaelectronvolts.
“X17 could be a particle, which connects our visible world with the dark matter,” he said in an email.
The Hungarian team published similar results in the Physical Review Letters
while studying the beryllium-8 isotope in 2016. Their findings showed that particles were coming off the isotope at a 140-degree angle, which had not been seen before in science at the time.
The results set off a race to prove the results were either lab error or the product of a strange and new phenomenon in nature. As a result, the Hungarian team set out to replicate their results, which they have now done with a helium isotope.
Jonathan Feng, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of California at Irvine, told CNN he’s been following the Hungarian team’s work for years and believes its research is shaping up to be a game-changer. If these results can be replicated, “this would be a no-brainer Nobel Prize,” he said.
Title image: Professor Attila Krashnahorkay and a fellow researcher at the Atomki nuclear research institute (source: Attila Krasznahorkay)