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Chameleon Scalar Fields: Detecting Dark Energy with Tests of Gravity

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Chameleon scalar fields are candidates for the dark energy, the mysterious component causing the observed acceleration of the universe. Their defining property is a mass which depends on the local matter density: they are massive on Earth, where the density is high, but essentially massless in the cosmos, where the density is much lower. All current constraints from tests of general relativity are satisfied. Nevertheless, chameleons lead to striking predictions for tests of gravity in the laboratory and in space. For example, near-future satellite experiments could measure an effective Newton's constant in space different by a factor of order unity from that on Earth, as well as violations of the Equivalence Principle stronger than currently allowed by laboratory experiments. Such signatures raise the exciting possibility of detecting dark energy through local tests of gravity.