Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Measurements may help show if constants are changing

02.05.2006


Physicists at JILA have performed the first-ever precision measurements using ultracold molecules, in work that may help solve a long-standing scientific mystery--whether so-called constants of nature have changed since the dawn of the universe.

The research, reported in the April 14 issue of Physical Review Letters,* involved measuring two phenomena simultaneously--electron motion, and rotating and vibrating nuclei--in highly reactive molecules containing one oxygen atom and one hydrogen atom. The researchers greatly improved the precision of these microwave frequency measurements by using electric fields to slow down the molecules, providing more time for interaction and analysis. JILA is a joint institute of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Compared to the previous record, set more than 30 years ago, the JILA team improved the precision of one frequency measurement 25-fold and another 10-fold. This was achieved by producing pulses of cold molecules at various speeds, hitting each group with a microwave pulse of a selected frequency, and then measuring how many molecules were in particular energy states. The apparatus and approach were similar to those used in the NIST-F1 cesium atomic fountain clock, the nation’s primary time standard, raising the possibility of designing a clock that keeps time with molecules, instead of atoms.



The JILA team’s ability to make two molecular measurements at once enables scientists to apply mathematical calculations to probe the evolution over time of fundamental natural properties such as the fine structure constant, which is widely used in research to represent the strength of electromagnetic interactions. Another research group at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory plans to make similar frequency measurements soon of the same molecules produced in distant galaxies, which are so far from Earth that they represent a window into ancient history. By comparing precision values for the fine structure constant on Earth and in distant parts of the universe, scientists hope to determine whether this constant has changed over 10 billion years. Because the fine structure constant is used in so many fields of physics, these measurements are a way to test the consistency of existing theories. The JILA measurements could enable any change in the fine structure constant over time to be determined with a precision of one part per million.

Laura Ost | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nist.gov

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Meteoritic stardust unlocks timing of supernova dust formation
19.01.2018 | Carnegie Institution for Science

nachricht Artificial agent designs quantum experiments
19.01.2018 | Universität Innsbruck

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: Artificial agent designs quantum experiments

On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.

We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

Im Focus: Room-temperature multiferroic thin films and their properties

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.

Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Let the good tubes roll

19.01.2018 | Materials Sciences

How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism

19.01.2018 | Health and Medicine

Meteoritic stardust unlocks timing of supernova dust formation

19.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>