Yoctonewtons: the weakest bullies on the playground since April 2010


In this blog: Claudia fights the urge to make as many physics-related puns as possible.

So check this micro-insanity out:
Take a bunch of beryllium ions, trap them in a chamber using strong magnetic forces and weak electrostatic forces, get them really cold, and then point lasers at them to see if anything causes the ions to move.

AND OH YES, THE IONS MOVE!

Apparently, freezing cold, stuck-in-place ions = good way to capture very very minimal forces. Measuring the ions for movement allowed for scientists to detect forces in the yoctonewton range, which is 10-24 Newtons.

For perspective (that doesn’t really matter, ‘cause everything else involves so much more force than this):
– The maximum force of a freaking mosquito is about 10-3 Newtons (somewhere in the range of millinewtons).
– 1022 Newtons is the approximate gravitational attraction between the earth and the sun (above the force magnitude of a giganewton).
– 1044 Newtons is the Planck force (somewhere in the range of a “take-THAT-you-ineffectual-agitated-beryllium-ions” newton).

 

Science: it’s way cooler than you’ll ever be.

Hertz, don’t it?

Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

Today’s song: Sleepyhead (Cillo Remix) originally by Passion Pit (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=adEcSRvLNfM – listen and be chill)

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