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Particle Physics Research Sheds New Light on Possible "Fifth Force of Nature"

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Researchers used an experiment that relied on the electrons (red dots) in Earth's mantle to look for new particles, possibly the unparticle, that are tied to a new fundamental force of nature called the long-range spin-spin interaction (blue wavy lines).
(image by Marc Airhart (University of Texas at Austin) and Steve Jacobsen (Northwestern University))

It's a good time to be a particle physicist. The long-sought Higgs boson particle seems finally to have been found, and scientists are now hot on the trail of another tiny piece of the universe, this one tied to a new fundamental force of nature. An experiment using the Earth itself as a source of electrons has narrowed down the search for a new force-bearing particle, placing tighter limits on how big the force it carries can be. As an added bonus, if the new particle is real, it will shed light on processes and structures inside Earth. The new force of nature carries what is called long-range spin-spin interaction. But longer-range spin-spin interactions are more mysterious. The force would operate in addition to the four fundamental forces familiar to physicists: gravity, electromagnetism and the strong and weak nuclear forces.

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