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Lab-based Dark Energy Experiment Narrows Search Options for Elusive Force

21 Aug 2019, 21:38 UTC
Lab-based Dark Energy Experiment Narrows Search Options for Elusive Force
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An experiment to test a popular theory of dark energy has found no evidence of new forces, placing strong constraints on related theories. Dark energy is the name given to an unknown force that is causing the universe to expand at an accelerating rate.Some physicists propose dark energy is a 'fifth' force that acts on matter, beyond the four already known - gravitational, electromagnetic, and the strong and weak nuclear forces. However, researchers think this fifth force may be 'screened' or 'hidden' for large objects like planets or weights on Earth, making it difficult to detect.Now, researchers at Imperial College London and the University of Nottingham have tested the possibility that this fifth force is acting on single atoms, and found no evidence for it in their most recent experiment.This could rule out popular theories of dark energy that modify the theory of gravity, and leaves fewer places to search for the elusive fifth force.The experiment, performed at Imperial College London and analysed by theorists at the University of Nottingham, is reported today in Physical Review Letters.Professor Ed Copeland, from the Centre for Astronomy & Particle Physics at the University of Nottingham, said: "This experiment, connecting atomic physics and cosmology, ...

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