Science & Technology
Scientists launch hunt for mystery 'dark force'
By T.K. Randall
September 3, 2018 · 9 comments
Can scientists find the 'dark force' ? Image Credit: S. Epps and M. Hudson / University of Waterloo.
The ambitious search for a fifth force of nature could revolutionize our understanding of the cosmos.
The precise nature of dark matter and dark energy, which are thought to account for up to 96% of the observable universe, remains one of the most important unsolved mysteries in modern physics.
Now in a renewed bid to find a way to understand this invisible 'dark sector' of the cosmos, scientists have launched a new search for a fifth fundamental force of nature - the so-called 'dark force'.
"At the moment, we don't know what more than 90% of the universe is made of," said researcher Mauro Raggi from the Sapienza University of Rome.
"If we find this force it will completely change the paradigm we have now. It would open up a new world and help us to understand the particles and forces that compose the dark sector."
The hunt itself will utilize an instrument known as the Positron Annihilation into Dark Matter Experiment (PADME) which is situated at the National Institute of Nuclear Physics near Rome.
The experiment involves bombarding a super-thin diamond wafer with a stream of positrons.
Normally what happens is that the positrons will merge with electrons and disappear in a faint burst of energy, producing two photons. If however the fifth 'dark force' actually exists, then sometimes these collisions should produce one photon and one 'dark' photon - the dark sector's equivalent.
"It would definitely be a huge thing in physics if some evidence of a dark sector was found," said Bryan McKinnon from the University of Glasgow. "Right now, it's labelled as such because it's the stuff we don't understand. If a door can be opened, what will come out? That's guesswork right now."
Source: The Guardian
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