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mattbrowne's avatar

Why is there no fifth fundamental force - Or should we keep looking?

Asked by mattbrowne (31585points) June 5th, 2009

According to the present understanding, there are four fundamental interactions or forces: gravitation, electromagnetism, the weak interaction, and the strong interaction. Their magnitude and behavior vary greatly. Modern physics attempts to explain every observed physical phenomenon by these fundamental interactions. Moreover, reducing the number of different interaction types is seen as desirable. Two cases in point are the unification of:

* Electric and magnetic force into electromagnetism;
* The electromagnetic interaction and the weak interaction into the electroweak interaction.

Could a fifth fundamental force help scientists develop a unified theory (sometimes called ToE, a Theory of Everything)? Or should we be grateful for having found only four because they are easier to unify?

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6 Answers

AstroChuck's avatar

It’s funny that you asked this. This is a question I’ve contemplated posting here on Fluther. I think there’s no reason to assume there are only the four. Who’s to say? We don’t know what dark energy is. Perhaps dark energy is, or has some relation to another force of nature. I mean, something is causing the expansion of our universe to increase in speed.

Blondesjon's avatar

Give chaos and superstring theory a few more years to develop. We are at a point where our ability to understand our own theory is being stretched to the breaking point. I think we’ve already tap danced around the answer we just need the right brain and the right voice to clarify it for us.

AstroChuck's avatar

@mattbrowne- What are your opinions on M theory?

mattbrowne's avatar

@AstroChuck – Well, there are several supersymmetric theories and you might have heard of efforts searching for the neutralino which could be 50 – 100 times heavier than the proton. It would be a great explanation for dark matter. Do you believe the neutrolino?

Of course once the LHC is fixed we’ll be in for many surprises, not only the Higgs boson.

AstroChuck's avatar

I think the whole idea of neuralinos is fasinating but I’m not informed enough to give you my opinion as to their theoretical existance any more than I could about tachyons. I do think we live in exciting times when it comes to physics and that events at CERN should answer some questions (as well as create a lot more questions).
What intrigues me about M theory is it’s the only theory I know of that could credibly offer a true GUT. I figure you know much more about superstring theory than I do and was just curious if you were on board with its (M theory) relatively few followers.

mattbrowne's avatar

@AstroChuck – Of course M theory is fascinating. What bothers me a bit is the lack of simplicity and elegance. Imagine, how much semantics is ingrained in the following 5 characters E=m^2

But there are 26-dimensional string theories and others having even more dimension, so I guess being content with just 11 makes M theory somewhat more appealing.

Well, the LHC is scheduled to be operational again around September 2009. We’ll see.

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