January 29, 2023


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The fifth force of the universe? Scientists have made a ruling regarding the search for dark energy

Dark energy exists so far only hypothetically, and scientists are having a hard time detecting it. The so-called chameleon effect.

Science defines four fundamental forces: strong, weak, electromagnetic and gravitational forces. The fifth of these interactions was a research target, which was aided by a recently completed test. Unfortunately, the researchers behind it have ruled out the chameleon effect as a possible candidate behind dark energy.

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We can read about the search results in the pages Nature Physics. Why is the hack on this important? If only due to the fact that dark energy is considered to be related to the expansion of the universe. This phenomenon causes galaxies and other objects to move away from each other. The effect of a chameleon depends on the density of the surrounding material.

As a result, in regions of the universe characterized by a low concentration of matter, this fifth force will have a significant impact on the situation, repelling matter. However, the density of matter on Earth is much higher, and therefore, quite simply, the effect of a chameleon will have very little scope for action. This is why it is so difficult to detect. Previous attempts to make measurements have focused on the shift between the test mass and groups of atoms or between the test mass and the pendulum.

The fifth force of the universe will be related to the presence of dark energy

Now, however, He Jian-hua of Nanjing University and colleagues have decided to design an experiment in which a graphite strip and a test block were used. The aim of the study was to perform measurements on previously unavailable scales, and to fill in the gap that had arisen during previous experiments.

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In this case, it was possible to completely eliminate the effect of gravity and place the test mass inside the Faraday cage, which blocks the electric fields. The team then used an optical microscope and laser system, hoping to discover the potential displacement caused by the chameleon. Unfortunately, the research did not come up with the expected results.

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Despite this, scientists will not give up. If they can increase the sensitivity of the device by cooling it to very low temperatures, it will be possible to continue the search for evidence of the interactions of chameleons and other potential dark energy forces.