MessageToEagle.com - A fifth elementary force of nature named hypercharge, may oppose the force of gravity.
It's phenomenon that fascinate modern physicists.
In a breakthrough for the field of particle physics, Professor of Physics Larry Hunter and colleagues at Amherst and The
University of Texas at Austin have established new limits on what scientists call “long-range spin-spin interactions”
between atomic particles.
These interactions have been proposed by theoretical physicists but have not yet been seen.
Their observation would constitute the discovery of a “fifth force of nature” (in addition to
the four known fundamental
forces: gravity, weak, strong and electromagnetic) and would suggest the existence of new particles, beyond those
presently described by the Standard Model
of particle physics.
This picture depicts the long-range spin-spin interaction (blue wavy lines) in which the spin-sensitive
detector on Earth’s surface interacts with geoelectrons (red dots) deep in Earth’s mantle. The arrows on the
geoelectrons indicate their spin orientations, opposite that of Earth’s magnetic field lines (white arcs).
Illustration: Marc Airhart (University of Texas at Austin) and Steve Jacobsen (Northwestern University).
The new limits were established by considering the interaction between the spins of laboratory fermions (electrons,
neutrons and protons) and the spins of the electrons within Earth. To make this study possible, the authors created
the first comprehensive map of electron polarization within Earth induced by the planet’s geomagnetic field.
Hunter—along with emeritus Amherst physics professor Joel Gordon; postdoctoral fellow Stephen Peck; student researcher
Daniel Ang ’15; and Jung-Fu “Afu” Lin, associate professor of geosciences at UT Austin—co-authored a paper about
their work that appears in this week’s issue of the prestigious journalScience.
The highly interdisciplinary research relies on geophysics, atomic physics, particle physics, mineral physics,
solid-state physics and nuclear physics to reach its conclusions.
The paper describes how the team combined a model of Earth’s interior with a precise map of the planet’s geomagnetic
field to produce a map of the magnitude and direction of electron spins throughout Earth. Their model was based in part
on insights gained from Lin’s studies of spin transitions at the high temperatures and pressures of Earth’s interior.
Every fundamental particle (every electron, neutron and proton, to be specific), explained Hunter, has the intrinsic
atomic property of “spin.” Spin can be thought of as a vector—an arrow that points in a particular direction. Like all
matter, Earth and its mantle—a thick geological layer sandwiched between the thin outer crust and the central core—are
made of atoms.
The atoms are themselves made up of electrons, neutrons and protons that have spin. Earth’s magnetic
field causes some of the electrons in the mantle’s minerals to become slightly spin-polarized, meaning the directions
in which their spins point are no longer completely random, but have some net orientation.
Earlier experiments, including one in Hunter’s laboratory, explored whether their laboratory spins prefer to point in
a particular direction. “We know, for example, that a magnetic dipole has a lower energy when it is oriented parallel
to the geomagnetic field and it lines up with this particular direction—that is how a compass works,” he explained.
“Our experiments removed this magnetic interaction and looked to see if there might be some other interaction that
would orient our experimental spins. One interpretation of this ‘other’ interaction is that it could be a long-range
interaction between the spins in our apparatus, and the electron spins within the Earth, that have been aligned by
the geomagnetic field. This is the long-range spin-spin interaction we are looking for.”
So far, no experiment has been able to detect any such interaction. But in Hunter’s paper, the researchers describe
how they were able to infer that such so-called spin-spin forces, if they exist, must be incredibly weak—as much
as a million times weaker than the gravitational attraction between the particles. At this level, the experiments
can constrain “torsion gravity”—a proposed theoretical extension of Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity.
Given the high sensitivity of the technique Hunter and his team used, it may provide a useful path for future
experiments that will refine the search for such a fifth force. If a long-range spin-spin force is found, it
not only would revolutionize particle physics but might eventually provide geophysicists with a new tool that
would allow them to directly study the spin-polarized electrons within Earth.
“If the long-range spin-spin interactions are discovered in future experiments, geoscientists can eventually
use such information to reliably understand the geochemistry and geophysics of the planet’s interior,” said Lin.
Possible future discoveries aside, Hunter said that he was pleased that this particular project enabled him to work
with Lin. “When I began investigating spin transitions in the mantle, all of the literature led to him,” he explained.
“I was thrilled that he was interested in the project and willing to sign on as a collaborator. He has been a
good teacher and has had enormous patience with my ignorance about geophysics. It has been a very fruitful
“The most rewarding and surprising thing about this project was realizing that particle
physics could actually be used to study the deep Earth,” Lin said.
The Wandering Stars
In ancient civilizations, people pondered the meanings of the stars, watching for clues to their survival: the beginning of planting and
harvesting times, the seasons, and even portents of danger.
They soon noticed that certain stars didn't stay in place, but wandered amongst the fixed star field.
"The Most Profound Mystery In All Of Science" -
Little is known about this force and its its repulsive gravity, which is causing the expansion of the universe to accelerate.
The riddles of dark matter and cosmic inflation, along with dark energy, these are the three pillars of modern cosmological theory,"
and none of them can be explained with physics that we know," Michael Turner, director of the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics says.
Doesn't Secret Dark Matter Exist?
The more scientists study dark matter they know lesser and are not particularly optimistic about their results.
After completing this study, we know less about dark matter than we did before," said Matt Walker, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
A mysterious and still unknown substance is totally invisible in the Universe and reveals its presence only through its gravitational pull.
Mysteries Of A Dark Universe
Cosmology, the study of the universe as a whole, has been turned on its head by a stunning discovery that the universe is flying apart in all directions at an ever-increasing rate. Is the universe really as we think it should be? Or is nature somehow fooling us?
The astronomers whose data revealed this accelerating universe have been awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics.
Black Holes With No 'Table Manners' Eat Two Courses At Once!
It is still unknown how the supermassive black holes (SMBH) in galaxy centres accrete gas and grow.
Researchers from the University of Leicester (UK) and Monash University in Australia have investigated how some black holes got so big so fast that they are billions of times heavier than the sun.
Warp-Speed Planets Are Some Of The Fastest Objects In The Milky Way
Warped planets are some of the fastest objects in the Milky Way and they zoom through space near the speed of light.
Some years ago astronomers were astonished when they they found the first runaway star flying out of our Galaxy at a speed of 1.5 million miles per hour.
The discovery intrigued theorists, who wondered: If a star can get tossed outward at such an extreme velocity, could the same thing happen to planets?
Though the universe is filled with billions upon billions of stars, the discovery of a single variable star in 1923 altered the
course of modern astronomy. And, at least one famous astronomer of the time lamented that the discovery had shattered his world view.