News of the WeekPhysics

A Slow Carousel Ride Gauges Gravity's Pull

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Science  12 May 2000:
Vol. 288, Issue 5468, pp. 944
DOI: 10.1126/science.288.5468.944

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Physicists at the University of Washington, Seattle, have released the most precise measurement yet of the strength of gravity, represented by a universal constant nicknamed "big G," thanks to a clever new device. At last week's meeting of the American Physical Society, they announced that they had measured big G with an error of a mere 14 parts per million--about 10 times better than previous measurements. The key to the newfound precision was keeping their experimental apparatus in constant motion.