You may or may not have known that, up until recently, there were only four recognized forces of nature. These forces include: gravitation, electromagnetism, as well as both the weak and the strong nuclear forces of the universe. All of these forces interact with matter that we’re familiar with. However, there’s another type of matter, one that has puzzled scientists for years: dark matter. This fifth force deals with dark matter.


Hungarian researchers began experimenting, looking for what they called “dark photons,” which are electromagnetic particles that would interact with the dark matter that makes up such a large chunk of matter in our universe. The team created an unstable element, beryllium-4, and monitored its composition. Although they expected it to lose mass, it actually gained a small amount of mass briefly before then deteriorating as expected. They initially thought it was a new particle, similar to an electron but larger.


However, researchers at UCI this year have proposed a different idea: that the 5th force of nature was interacting with dark matter. So what does this mean? Nothing, yet. It is a possibility for scientists to understand dark matter better, and thus get a much better idea of the physics of our entire universe. For now, we will have to wait for the experiment to be recreated and studied.