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, 363 (1834), 2265-87

Newton's Constant and the Twenty-First Century Laboratory


Newton's Constant and the Twenty-First Century Laboratory

Clive C Speake. Philos Trans A Math Phys Eng Sci.


The main aim of this paper is to describe the problems that confront experimentalists who attempt to determine Newton's constant of gravitation, G. I will motivate this work by discussing the role of Newton's constant of gravitation in classical physics and recent ideas as to its role in quantum physics. I will then discuss some key aspects of a precision determination of G. This will include criteria for the selection of the detector of the gravitational torque from the point of view of random uncertainties due to read-out noise, thermal and vibrational noise. Another important factor in precise determinations of G is the control of systematic effects (type B uncertainties) such as those due to uncertainties in absolute calibration of the gravitational torque, density homogeneity of source masses and length metrology. I will illustrate the discussion using the determination of G currently underway at the International Bureau of Weights and Measures in France, and describe other experimental configurations that have been used in the past or are being currently developed.

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