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, 88 (11), 111101

Invited Review Article: Measurements of the Newtonian Constant of Gravitation, G

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Invited Review Article: Measurements of the Newtonian Constant of Gravitation, G

C Rothleitner et al. Rev Sci Instrum.

Abstract

By many accounts, the Newtonian constant of gravitation G is the fundamental constant that is most difficult to measure accurately. Over the past three decades, more than a dozen precision measurements of this constant have been performed. However, the scatter of the data points is much larger than the uncertainties assigned to each individual measurement, yielding a Birge ratio of about five. Today, G is known with a relative standard uncertainty of 4.7 × 10-5, which is several orders of magnitudes greater than the relative uncertainties of other fundamental constants. In this article, various methods to measure G are discussed. A large array of different instruments ranging from the simple torsion balance to the sophisticated atom interferometer can be used to determine G. Some instruments, such as the torsion balance can be used in several different ways. In this article, the advantages and disadvantages of different instruments as well as different methods are discussed. A narrative arc from the historical beginnings of the different methods to their modern implementation is given. Finally, the article ends with a brief overview of the current state of the art and an outlook.

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