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NIST Posts Adjusted Values of the Physical Constants, Tweaking Gravity to Make Science More Precise

• Clay Dillow via

Did you feel that? Gravity just got a little weaker. The National Institute of Standards and Technology has just posted the latest internationally recommended adjustments to the values for the fundamental constants of nature. The results: Gravity is a bit weaker, the electromagnetic force a smidgeon stronger, and the whole of physics a little less uncertain.

The NIST and its international partners reconsider the values placed upon the fundamental constants every four years to take into account advances in technology and science that beget better, more accurate values for things like the speed of light, the Newtonian constant of gravitation (G), the Planck constant, and other values preceded by famous names.

The real news here isn’t really that we’ve discovered anything new but that science on the whole has reduced uncertainty, and that in turn impacts all physical science going forward. For instance, uncertainty in the constant alpha (that’s the fine-structure constant or the electromagnetic constant) has been reduced by 0.3 parts per billion, or cut in half based on the last evaluation of the constants in 2006.

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