How Many Forces Are in Nature?
The scientific community has been abuzz lately over a possible discovery of new particles, or even a new force in nature. Scientists working at Fermilab, a Department of Energy national laboratory specializing in high-energy particle physics near Chicago, say they’ve seen strong evidence of an unknown force working at the subatomic level, which caused a particle called “muon” to wobble in a way they did not expect based on the current understanding of physics. Chris Polly, one of the lead scientists on the experiment, described this as “our Mars rover landing moment.” Marcela Carena, head of theoretical physics at Fermilab, added excitedly, “I feel like this tiny wobble may shake the foundations of what we thought we knew.”
We must start being more considerate of others’ needs, and not only of our own. Moreover, we must do this as a society, and not individually, since individually, it will not work in a self-centered society.
Fermilab is not alone. Last month, researchers at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Europe also found hints of an unknown force at work. They smashed together particles called “beauty quarks,” expected the collisions to produce equal amounts of electrons and muons, but ended up producing fifteen percent more electrons than muons. “Something funny going on,” observed David Kaplan, a Johns Hopkins University theoretical physicist in an interview on Global News. According to Kaplan, the results of the experiments point to something that could be explained by a new particle or force that isn’t in the Standard Model. “This is not a fudge factor,” he said. “This is something wrong.”
The current understanding of subatomic physics, working under what is called “The Standard Model,” maintains that there are four forces in nature: gravity, electromagnetism, the strong force, and the weak force. So far, the four forces have managed to explain pretty much everything. Now, apparently, the Standard Model cannot explain the new phenomena, and scientists are questioning their understanding of the world. If there are five forces, then they don’t understand how things work. Worse yet, they don’t know the nature of this force, if there are other forces that they still don’t know about, or if there is even a new force or a new particle to discover. This can get quite confusing, if you’re a physicist, but in fact, there is an easy way to put order into this conundrum.
I wrote about it extensively in my book Self-Interest vs. Altruism in the Global Era, but I’ll try to share the gist of the explanation in this little snippet. At the most basic level of reality are two forces. They have no scientific names, but they are opposite, and their interactions create and maintain every iota of reality. When they are balanced, matters thrive; when there is imbalance between them, matters decay and deteriorate. These forces, which we can refer to as positive and negative, create the opposite charges between protons and electrons, the opposite seasons of the year, the oppositeness between day and night, birth and death, growth and decay, male and female, and love and hate. Specifically in humans, these forces manifest as desires: a desire to receive and a desire to give.
When there is exploitation, it is clearly an exaggeration of the desire to receive. Motherhood, on the other hand, is the best example of the desire to give, even if the mother receives pleasure while giving.
These desires are not static. Their development creates what we know as evolution, but they maintain their balance, or as biologists refer to it — homeostasis — namely a dynamic balance where the forces alternate in dominance.
Currently, the apex of evolution is humankind. However, in humans, there is a flaw: The desire to receive is overbearing in us, and the desire to give is, well, meek. As a result, the revelations we make are all used by the desire to receive. This is why every scientific discovery is immediately used for selfish purposes: from seeking fame through gaining wealth to developing military weapons and technologies.
Because our desires keep developing, we will continue to discover new particles, new forces, and new laws in nature. The only limit to our discoveries is the intensity of our desires. The more they grow, the more we will discover. However, you can be sure that we will misuse whatever we discover just as we have misused everything that we have learned about nature to this day. The only possible result of discovering more forces is that they will be used to inflict more harm and pain on humanity and on our planet.
The real discovery we need to make is how to balance our unhinged desire to receive with our feckless desire to give. We must remember that any structure in nature where the two forces are off balance is short lived. If we want to be more than a flicker in the history of our planet, we must learn to balance receiving with giving.
In simpler words, we must start being more considerate of others’ needs, and not only of our own. Moreover, we must do this as a society, and not individually, since individually, it will not work in a self-centered society.
We’ve already discovered what nuclear weapons can do. Now, once more, we are growing obtuse enough to use them, for all their consequences. Therefore, while there are countless forces in nature, there is only one that we really need to discover: the force of giving, the desire to give. This will reveal to us the physics of happiness.