There have been dramatic articles in the news media suggesting that a Nobel Prize has essentially already been awarded for the amazing discovery of a “fifth force.” I thought I’d better throw some cold water on that fire; it’s fine for it to smoulder, but we shouldn’t let it overheat.
There could certainly be as-yet unknown forces waiting to be discovered — dozens of them, perhaps. So far, there are four well-studied forces: gravity, electricity/magnetism, the strong nuclear force, and the weak nuclear force. Moreover, scientists are already fully confident there is a fifth force, predicted but not yet measured, that is generated by the Higgs field. So the current story would really be about a sixth force.
Roughly speaking, any new force comes with at least one new particle. That’s because
every force arises from a type of field (for instance, the electric force comes from the electromagnetic field, and the predicted Higgs force comes from the Higgs field)
and ripples in that type of field are a type of particle (for instance, a minimal ripple in the electromagnetic field is a photon — a particle of light — and a minimal ripple in the Higgs field is the ...