Does the Secretary of Energy have a bit too much free time?
Cal physicist helps confirm Einstein theory
David Perlman, San Francisco Chronicle Science Editor
Monday, February 22, 2010
A UC Berkeley physicist and a Nobel prize-winning colleague now in President Obama's Cabinet report they have confirmed one of Albert Einstein's most revolutionary theories 10,000 times more accurately than ever before.
Einstein's theory of general relativity has already been tested and confirmed to a degree as a true picture of reality by scores of experimenters, ever since he proposed it to the world nearly a century ago.
In the immediate decades after the theory's publication, legend had it that only 12 people in the world could understand it, although physicists have long revered it. Even today, relativity remains an arcane subject for most of us, but it does have relevance to all science and even to everyday life - for meticulous timekeepers, for space explorers, for astronomers studying black holes and even for anyone driving a car with a Global Positioning System device navigating around the Bay Area's tricky freeway mazes.
One basic prediction from Einstein's theory is that the tug of gravity makes clocks slow down.
Now Holger Müller, a physicist at UC Berkeley, together with Steven Chu, former director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and now Obama's energy secretary, as well as Achim Peters of Humboldt University in Berlin, report they have developed what is by far the best confirmation yet of Einstein's monumental achievement.
Details of their work are published in the current issue of the journal Nature…
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Monday, February 22, 2010
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