Scientists complete the first experimental test of deterministic dark energy theory

A joint research team composed of Du Jiangfeng, academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and professor of the University of Science and Technology of China, Professor Huang Pu of Nanjing University, and Associate Professor He Jianhua, used the anti-magnetic levitation mechanical system to conduct experimental tests on an important dark energy theory, the chameleon theory, in a laboratory environment, and did not find the “fifth force” predicted by the theory, thus ruling out the possibility of dark energy. This is the first experimental test of certainty of all dark energy theories. On August 25, the relevant research results were published online in the international academic journal Nature-Physics.

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Experimental system of anti-magnetic levitation mechanical system Courtesy of The University of Science and Technology of China

Of the 125 most challenging scientific questions published by Science magazine, “What makes the universe made of?” came first. Some observational facts in cosmology and astronomy suggest that the universe is in an accelerating expansion, and dark energy is thought to be the cause of its expansion. But what the nature of dark energy is, and in what way it works with our world, is still unknown.

Chameleon theory is a theoretical model used to explain the accelerating expansion of the universe, and one of the biggest features of the theory is that it predicts a “fifth force” outside the known four fundamental interactions, which can be formally written as a slight deviation from the gravitational action of all things, which makes experimental research possible.

In this work, the researchers used the anti-magnetic levitation mechanical system as a force detector to exquisitely construct a submillimeter-scale “desktop” force detection platform with ultra-high sensitivity, and detected the “fifth force” predicted by chameleon theory.

The researchers made a fine numerical simulation of the chameleon field and a first-principle geometric design based on this, and adopted a thin film structure for the mass source and force detectors, which effectively solved the difficulty of double shielding of the chameleon field at the mass source end and the force detector end; Moreover, the experiment produced a “fifth force” drive with ultra-long coherence time to improve the accuracy of force detection.

The above technology has greatly improved the detection efficiency of the “fifth force”, achieved the highest international detection accuracy of the chameleon theory so far, and limited the upper limit of the chameleon force predicted by the theory to 6 x 10-17 Newton. Combined with other previous experiments, the study finally completed the full-parameter spatial test of the underlying chameleon theory, and did not find the “fifth force” predicted by the theory, thus definitively excluding this dark energy theory.

This work fully demonstrates the cross-integration of precision force detection and cosmological research, and is expected to stimulate researchers’ broad interest in a variety of basic scientific fields such as cosmic astronomy, particle physics, and atomic and molecular physics. The reviewers spoke highly of the work: “In my opinion this is a very important achievement and represents a major development in the field. (Source: China Science Daily Wang Min)

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