Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Constant change

15.07.2015

Advances in determination of fundamental constants to guide redefinition of scientific units to rely on constants of nature instead of physical standards

The fundamental constants that govern the laws of nature are being determined with increasing accuracy, according to a review paper published this week in Journal of Physical and Chemical Reference Data, from AIP Publishing.


NIST's watt balance is a powerful measuring tool that is aiding in the redefinition of the kilogram

Credit: NIST

The paper outlines the proceedings from this year's Workshop on the Determination of the Fundamental Constants, where an international community of physicists and metrologists convened to share their research into an array of fundamental constants. Ultimately, better definitions of these constants will aid in the effort to redefine several standard scientific units, including the kilogram and the Kelvin, by 2018.

Fundamental constants describe a variety of physical properties in the world around us. Planck's constant, for example, governs the relationship between energy and frequency. The fine-structure constant explains the strength of electromagnetic interaction between charged particles. Fundamental constants such as these underlie the development of much of today's technology, from atomic clocks to GPS systems.

They are also linked to the International System of Units (SI), the standard measurement system used throughout the scientific community and in most countries around the world. By defining units like the meter in terms of fixed fundamental constants such as the speed of light, we ensure that they remain the same over time.

However, some SI units, like the kilogram, still rely on a physical standard -- in this case, a platinum-iridium cylinder housed in France. Now that scientific research is carried out across the globe, relying on a single physical standard is somewhat limiting, as mass standards in other countries must be periodically calibrated against the original. In addition, the standard itself is subject to changes in mass over time.

To make the system more consistent and accessible, the international metrology community plans to redefine all SI units in terms of fundamental constants by 2018. Before we can redefine an entire system of units, though, it is important to be certain that the fundamental constants upon which the definitions depend are as accurate and precise as possible. And since different measurement procedures or data collection techniques can yield slightly different results, pinning down the exact values of these constants can be a surprisingly fussy business.

"The objective of the SI is to provide the best possible standards, and the redefinition will be a step in that direction," said Peter Mohr, a researcher at the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST).

Luckily, some of the values for previously-contested constants appear to be converging. For instance, the recent workshop highlighted advances in the determination of the Bolzmann constant k, which explains the relationship between temperature and particle energy. Under the new SI system, the fixed Bolzmann constant will be used to define the Kelvin, the SI unit of temperature.

Planck's constant has also seen marked progress. "The Planck constant was problematic in the past, as there were disagreeing values obtained by different experiments. However, the values seem to be converging to a sufficiently reliable value for the redefinition of the SI to move forward," said Mohr. Planck's constant will eventually be fixed and used to define the kilogram.

"The new definitions will make many of the physical constants that are measured now exact in the future. Others, although not exact, will be more accurate," said Mohr. "This will stabilize the values of the constants and provide accurate measurement standards."

The 2015 workshop provided input to the latest adjustment of the official values for a number of fundamental physical constants, now available online. This adjustment is not the final one before the official SI redefinition in 2018, but it's still an important step forward. Growing consensus on the values of certain fundamental physical constants suggests that we may be almost ready to fix their values and move to a more reliable and streamlined measurement system.

###

The article, "Advances in determination of fundamental constants," is authored by Savely G. Karshenboim, Peter J. Mohr and David B. Newell. It will appear in the Journal of Physical and Chemical Reference Data on July 14, 2015. After that date, it can be accessed at http://scitation.aip.org/content/aip/journal/jpcrd/44/3/10.1063/1.4926575.

ABOUT THE JOURNAL

Journal of Physical and Chemical Reference Data is the authoritative resource for critically evaluated reference data for physical science and engineering disciplines. The journal publishes papers which report the best available measurements for the relevant properties. http://jpcrd.aip.org

Media Contact

Jason Socrates Bardi
jbardi@aip.org
240-535-4954

 @jasonbardi

http://www.aip.org 

Jason Socrates Bardi | EurekAlert!

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Tune your radio: galaxies sing while forming stars
21.02.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie

nachricht Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms
17.02.2017 | Universität Konstanz

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Impacts of mass coral die-off on Indian Ocean reefs revealed

21.02.2017 | Earth Sciences

Novel breast tomosynthesis technique reduces screening recall rate

21.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Use your Voice – and Smart Homes will “LISTEN”

21.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>