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Saturday, March 24, 2018

Zeptonewtons: Tiny Units of Measure of FORCE

     A single atom can gauge tiny electromagnetic forces.
The unit of measure of force, a zeptonewton, is equal to one billionth of a trillionth of a newton.    



      Scientists detected a tiny force using a charged atom (illustrated as a red sphere above), which moved (orange) when pelted with laser light (purple). A lens focused light emitted from the atom into a moving image (black arrow).




     Scientists used an atom of the element ytterbium (above) to sense an electromagnetic force smaller than 100 zeptonewtons, researchers report March 23, 2018,  in Science Advances. That’s less than 0.0000000000000000001 newtons (with 18 zeroes after the decimal.) At about the same strength as the gravitational pull between a person in Dallas and another in Washington, D.C., that’s downright feeble.


     After removing one of the atom’s electrons, researchers trapped the atom using electric fields and cooled it to less than a thousandth of a degree above absolute zero (–273.15° Celsius) by hitting it with laser light. 




      That light, counterintuitively, can cause an atom to chill out. The laser also makes the atom glow, and scientists focused that light into an image with a miniature Fresnel lens (as pictured above), a segmented lens like those used to focus lighthouse beams.




     Monitoring the motion of the atom’s image allowed the researchers to study how the atom responded to electric fields, and to measure the minuscule force caused by particles of light scattering off the atom, a mere 95 zeptonewtons.

I'm a little early for May, but, May the Fo(u)rth be with you,
Steph
    

46 comments:

  1. Love the less-than-straight path those graviton took, thanks to Google Maps, between Dallas and DC. If Zeppo Marx married Olivia Newton, would anyone care a fig?

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    1. The straight-line route is so boring. . .

      How did we associate the fruit fig with caring, anyway? Especially a flying fig!

      Might we argue this with Italian scientists and have a Fig-a-row?

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    2. I grew up near DC, the attraction to Dallas could certainly be measured in zeptonewtons. Consider what happened to JFK when he was pulled there.

      As an aside, [not] giving a fig is not associated with positive caring, but has a longer history, and not surprisingly it's just a little bit naughty. Read all about it here.

      No surprise Shakespeare used it, and perhaps introduced it to the larger English lexicon. He always liked the bawdy parts to keep the groundlings happy.

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    3. Thanks, eco, that was a fun read. Now I'm up on hand gestures around the world.

      What brought you from DC to the Bay Area? (Other than a car or plane.;-))

      I could not agree more about Dallas; I was so happy to leave after a year there and come to Colorado with everything I owned loaded in my tan VW Rabbit. (Speaking of rabbits elsewhere this week).

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    4. There's a certain universality in hand gestures, not the specifics, but the general intent. Good thesis topic.

      I've only been to Dallas once, part of a Texas swing that included Austin and Fort Worth. Surviving a year seems a stiff penance.

      Between DC and SF I had a 7 year stint in upstate NY for college and first job out of school. Stepping in a cold slush puddle and discovering the leather on yet another pair of shoes had been split from salt exposure was the immediate cause for the move. Also escaping a small town.

      I drove across the country in my $200 Toyota Corona wagon, all possessions inside (except books mailed to general delivery). I can rightly claim that I came out west in a covered wagon - though the floor had many holes, thank you salt city! Folks in my office had a raffle on which state the car would die in, nobody bet Keiko would make it.

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    5. I thoroughly enjoy road trip stories, especially picking up and moving somewhere new and far away. Glad you and Keiko made it. I'm imagining, due to previous salt issues, you didn't stay long in Salt Lake City, if at all.

      My mom was so upset I left a job in Dallas (with a dental plan!) without having another in Denver. It took me 3 weeks of perusing the local geologists' directory and knocking on doors downtown, networking to find a job. Can't imagine just showing up today!

      {BTW, this week's NPR puzzle involved a road trip as well, but not mine. I will explain more Thursday.}

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  2. Replies
    1. That dusty snow is oddly mesmerizing and beautiful.

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  3. No theory of knuckle cracking can be considered complete unless it includes an explanation of the sensation of stiffness that makes us know that a knuckle needs cracking, as well as explaining how cracking relieves that.

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    1. From the cited Nature article: "Some of the earliest comprehensive studies on cracking of the MCP joint established that all joints cannot be cracked and that joints once cracked cannot be cracked again for approximately 20 minutes."

      20 minutes seems like an awfully long refractory period to me. I'm sure I often crack my knuckles more often than that. Speaking of refractory periods and small hands, I wonder if Stormy Daniels has anything to add to this discussion?

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    2. A science article to crack us up! We'd best knuckle under to take it all in. . .

      Btw, Happy Easter, Happy Passover, and Happy Spring!

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    3. jan, just how gullible do you think we are?

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    4. I don't know. Myself, I've got a distinct lack of brown hair, so I'm not very gullible. You? (Or is that not what you meant by gullible?)

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    5. Aha!

      Just call me Jonathan Livingston SeaGirl.

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    6. The gull pees farthest who flies highest.

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    7. Indeed.

      Then, is the opposite of black humour cloacal humour?

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    8. For those of us whose science education consisted of reading The Far Side.

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    9. But, eco, no brown hair, or hare, for that matter.

      Say, do bulls' eyes look like bullseyes?

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    10. I grew up next to a farm, and can attest that bulls**t doesn't stink as bad what we get from certain persons.

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    11. Agreed. But what about those eyes?

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    12. You bring back memories: it was a dairy farm, entirely female, except every spring they would bring in males (I assume rented) for some pretty wild mating. The bulls and the bees, I suppose.

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    13. It was the Bluff the Listener feature on Wait Wait Don't Tell Me; I had also heard more detail on the CBC. My memory is East Coast gulls are that aggressive, but I don't wish they all could be California gulls.

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    14. eco, love it! I missed WWDTM with my brothers, niece, and nephew here this weekend. It was great to listen to my niece and nephew talk about school, life, and their first time on an airplane.

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    15. How nice it is to hear the world through the happy filters of youth.

      I only listen to WWDTM on air if I happen to be driving. I usually listen to the (uninterrupted) podcast during the week; a habit I started during one of the numerous pledge drives. I guess that isn't a happy filter.

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    16. Yes, eco, and happy filters that are not on SnapChat! (They are in the SC demographic at 14 and 18, but don't use it.)

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    17. Good for them for avoiding the seduction of these forces. I wonder what I would do were I in that demographic? At last we are hearing (out loud) the dark underbelly of Facebook, I suspect SC has similar intrusive designs - it's their economic model.

      Are you, or anyone else here, involved in these social media tripes? Just curious, I've never done Facebook, Twitter (though I enjoy DJT's self-incriminations), or other such sites. I just don't have the time...

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  4. Replies
    1. The noir movie "D.O.A." is on now, and the main character's response to discovering he has been incurably poisoned was "Doctor that's fantastic!" Words change meaning in a living language, get used to it Neil. In Sherlock Holmes stories "hello" is term of surprise, not a greeting.

      Still, there are expressions that make me cringe, like "he gifted her a ...." instead of gave. Or plating as a verb for putting food on a dish. Do you have favorites?

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    2. eco, I cringe at “ask” as a noun.

      When I teach science with the kindergartners, the classroom teacher and I have a “swear jar.” Whoever says “awesome” or “amazing” has to put a quarter in the jar. It is overused. . .

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    3. The "ask" is a good bad one. I still can't get used to "impact" as a verb, especially when used instead of the better "affect".

      I also shudder when people begin sentences with "so". Though that annoying affectation seems to be waning.

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    1. jan, lots of joy here. I was befuddled by the first link you posted.

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    1. eco, slow but interesting reading ;-)

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    2. I'd say the evidence that the SLOTH was for dinner is weak. Given its size, that'd be GLUTTONY, anyway. Who knows, maybe those early humans were motivated by LUST. The illustration seems to say it took a whole PRIDE of the humans to take one down.

      It'd be a sin to go on this way...

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  8. New post on "What Doesn't Krill Us Makes Us Stronger: Ocean Water Mixing By Tiny Organisms" is now up.

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