The Search for Undiscovered Force Fields
ABSTRACT: Undiscovered force fields, qualitatively different from electric, magnetic, and gravitational fields may exist. This article discusses circumstances that could have resulted in non-discovery and possible approaches for a search.
The existence of hereto undiscovered force fields, different from electric, magnetic, and gravitational fields could have a profound effect on the study of physics as well as medical, military, and communications uses. Current knowledge of physics does not appear to preclude the existence of qualitatively different force fields which, if they exist, could have dramatically different properties from the gravitational, electric, and magnetic fields we observe in the macro world.
The known magnetic and electric fields are related through Maxwells equations and, in addition, have related phenomena such as light, gamma rays, radio waves, etc. which themselves have wildly different physical characteristics and can also be transmitted through empty space. Any unknown fields might also have "related phenomena".
Circumstances of non-discovery
Any such undiscovered field would have to have characteristics that would have allowed it to remain undiscovered. Specifically, it would need to be characterized by the absence of obvious manifestations. Presence of effects caused by the field such as falling objects, lightning, electrical sparks, and lodestones would have long since resulted in discovery. Two circumstances could result in the absence of manifestations:
If the field were generally weak, then obvious manifestations would be absent. Consider what would have happened if the electric field constant e 0 which governs the strength of electric fields in space were several orders of magnitude less than it is. Electric fields would still exist at much weaker levels but obvious effects such as lightning would be absent. The discovery of electric fields could have been significantly delayed. A generally weak field could therefore have escaped discovery.
Just because a field exists does not mean it is strongly present in all locations at all times. Consider what would have happened if the Earth had been formed without a planetary magnetic field and without significant magnetic materials such as iron, cobalt, nickel, etc. Manifestations such as lodestones, and aurora would be absent and the discovery of magnetic fields could have been delayed. Fields which were weak in the vicinity of Earth during modern times could therefore have escaped discovery.
Consider also that essentially all the light on Earth comes from an external source. Strength of light on Earth is therefore highly dependent on planetary rotation, position of the planet in orbit, rotation of the sun, etc. Any unknown field or related phenomena could well also originate from an external source and therefore also be affected by similar conditions.
Searching for Undiscovered Force Fields
In a "brute force" attempt to find undiscovered fields or related phenomena we could take samples of various materials and attempt to very precisely measure forces and energy. After excluding effects from known fields and direct conduction we would be left with any unknown fields. Technology and science have advanced to the point where exceedingly minute forces or energies can be detected. In addition, statistical means have been developed for separating very small "signals" from noise. Unfortunately, by definition, the effects sought are very small compared to known fields and related phenomena and so excluding the effects of known fields and other environment effects will be extremely difficult.
As scientific techniques and apparatus become more sensitive and precise, an unknown field or related phenomenon might be discovered because of unexpected results in an experiment designed for a completely different purpose. The cosmic background radiation was discovered this way.
Astronomy and Astrophysics
As tools such as space telescopes become more sensitive, a manifestation elsewhere in the universe may eventually be observed that can only be explained as an effect of an unknown force.
Animals may have sensitivity to unknown fields or related phenomena, possibly as a result of a pre-historic time when the field was locally stronger. For example, eyes in animals have sensitivities to light many orders of magnitude smaller than the levels required to create obvious manifestations. Unexplained behavior of animals or humans may therefore be resulting from an unknown force. As with physical measurements a major challenge would be excluding known fields and environmental effects as possible causes.
Experiments in deep space may be useful in searching for unknown fields because the masking effect of very strong fields in Earths vicinity would be reduced. Experiments in orbit around the Earth may also be useful because of the "zero-gravity" effect and because correlation of effects with various external sources could be performed more often, approximately every 90 minutes vs 24 hours.
If you enjoyed this article or have comments, criticisms, or questions contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Back to Articles