Of the four forces known to modern physics, only one has not yet integrated with the Standard Model, which describes how subatomic particles behave, but an experiment conducted by researchers at the University of Vienna, Austria, may help in the search for a unified model. principle. The scientists who led the study discovered the smallest gravitational field ever recorded, which could allow the presence of the property to extend beyond the theory of relativity.
It is known how strong and weak interactions and electromagnetic forces, for example, affect matter even on a small scale. However, confirming this with regard to gravity is a little more difficult, as it tends to be “undone” in the nearly invisible world, making the full understanding of singularities in the centers of black holes impossible, for example. So with discovery, delivered by two golden spheres 2 millimeters in diameter, there may be illuminating clues along the way.
“This was just a proof of concept analysis for creating a sensor capable of measuring very small accelerations and developing methods that would allow us to detect even smaller gravities,” explains study co-author Jeremias Pfaff to Live Science . “In the long run, we want to answer what the gravitational field of a quantum object looks like in a superposition, but a lot has to be done along the way.”
Technologies that have long been in laboratories have allowed the approach to work. After all, the torsional balance, essential to the results of the research, was created in 1798 by the English scientist Henry Cavendish, who tried to measure the density of the Earth and from it the constant of gravity.
As expected, a miniscule version of the device came into play this time, as the power the team was looking for was equal to that of a third of a human blood cell on our planet.
The device consists of a horizontal bar suspended in the center from a wire to which two masses are attached, one at each end. If a small force is applied along the horizontal axis of the rod, the wire will turn and scientists can measure it based on how far the rod has turned.
In this case, the golden spheres took part in the experiment, along with the addition of a third nearby. Soon, the researchers were able to measure the gravity between the intruder and the attached spheres – to make sure nothing was impeding the progress of the process.
“The urban environment is also far from ideal,” said Pfaff, after noting that the force analyzed was 9 × 10 ^ minus 14 N. “It was impressive to see that we are not only sensitive to small earthquakes, but also to the local tram and individual buses. We could even see the Vienna city marathon in our data,” the scientist joked.
To get around such obstacles, the responsible researchers flooded the area around the device with ionized nitrogen before placing it in a vacuum and emphasized the small signal that the two spheres attached to the torsion balance moved very, very slowly, as it moved a lot everything would be easy to find compared to a stationary configuration.
The result? In addition to detecting the intensity of the objects’ strength and their own measurement for the gravitational constant, they found that gravity followed the same rules as on a larger scale. The knowledge that has been accumulated over the centuries is therefore out of danger.
It is hoped that the gaps in images of the universe will gradually be filled with the evolution of the method. One of the plans of Jeremias and his team is to make the experiment even more sensitive so that they can pick up smaller mass signals that are at least a thousand times lighter and over shorter distances.
In their view, such an achievement would advance in the creation of a theory that applies to what is known and to what remains largely mysterious, such as the existence of dark matter.
“By expanding our knowledge of this elusive force, we can gather tips for finding a more fundamental understanding of our physical reality,” Pfaff concludes, excited by what gravity has yet to reveal.