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Two Universities Get Grants for Precision Measurements

For Immediate Release: November 17, 2005

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Contact: Michael Baum

NIST has awarded two new Precision Measurement Grants to promote fundamental research in measurement science in U.S. colleges and universities. One grant was made to Edmund G. Myers of Florida State University (Tallahassee, Fla.) to carry out a sensitive measurement of the difference between the mass of tritium and helium-3, at the level of one part in 1011. This information will provide a constraint on the interpretation of tritium beta-decay experiments, which, in turn, will provide an improved upper limit on the mass of the electron anti-neutrino. This has important consequences for both fundamental physics and astrophysics. The other grant was awarded to David Weiss of Pennsylvania State University to carry out an ultraprecise search for an electric dipole moment of the electron at the level of 3×10-32 e m, a 500-fold improvement over the current limit. The experiment is expected to help put limits on possible extensions of the Standard Model, currently the most fundamental theory of matter, which plays a key role in understanding of nature.

The grants are awarded for three years, with an initial year funding of $50,000. The funding may be renewed at $50,000 per year for up to two additional years, for a total of $150,000, at the discretion of NIST. Over the 35-year history of the program, four PMG awardees have gone on to win Nobel Prizes. For more information, see http://physics.nist.gov/pmg or contact Peter Mohr, (301) 975-3217, mohr@nist.gov.