Skip to Content
Uncategorized

The Search for New Short-Range Forces

Atom interferometers now have the sensitivity to spot new forces beyond the standard model of particle physics.

“New short-distance forces are a frequent prediction of theories beyond the standard model, and the search for these new forces is a promising channel for discovering new physics,” says Jay Wacker of the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in California. The question is how to find them.

Wacker makes the argument that atom interferometry has matured to the point where it should be the instrument of choice in the search for these new forces on scales ranging from 100 micrometers to 1 kilometer.

The basic idea is to send two entangled atoms around separate arms of an interferometer and to look at the interference pattern they create. Placing a test mass near one of the arms should cause the atoms in that arm to deviate in a way that is easily calculated using Newton’s law of gravity. This path deviation should be easy to spot in a change in the interference pattern.

If you then subtract the Newtonian effects of the test mass from the data, whatever is left must be a new force.

Wacker says that state-of-the-art atom interferometry could already improve on the existing limits for new forces by an order of magnitude and that advances expected in the near future could improve on that by another order of magnitude.

So what might these kinds of experiments find? Various theories of supersymmetry predict the existence of extra dimensions that could exert forces on these kinds of scales, while others predict that gravity may shut off entirely or that new types of particles such as Peccei-Quinn axioms can mediate forces on these scales.

That’s an exciting mix of new physics to look forward to. And if Wacker is anything to go by, we could be seeing some of it sooner rather than later.

Ref: arxiv.org/abs/0908.2447: Using Atom Interferometery to Search for New Forces

Keep Reading

Most Popular

Europe's AI Act concept
Europe's AI Act concept

A quick guide to the most important AI law you’ve never heard of

The European Union is planning new legislation aimed at curbing the worst harms associated with artificial intelligence.

Uber Autonomous Vehicles parked in a lot
Uber Autonomous Vehicles parked in a lot

It will soon be easy for self-driving cars to hide in plain sight. We shouldn’t let them.

If they ever hit our roads for real, other drivers need to know exactly what they are.

crypto winter concept
crypto winter concept

Crypto is weathering a bitter storm. Some still hold on for dear life.

When a cryptocurrency’s value is theoretical, what happens if people quit believing?

chasm concept
chasm concept

Artificial intelligence is creating a new colonial world order

An MIT Technology Review series investigates how AI is enriching a powerful few by dispossessing communities that have been dispossessed before.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.