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NIST Work Highlighted as Top Science News of 2010

For Immediate Release: January 5, 2011

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Contact: Laura Ost

The top science news of 2010, as compiled by several science magazines, includes several stories from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Physics World selected NIST demonstrations of Einstein’s theories of relativity at the scale of everyday life as number seven of the top 10 breakthroughs of 2010. The magazine said NIST physicists “have shown us the human face of relativity” (see The experiments, reported in the journal Science, compared two of the world’s best experimental atomic clocks to show that time passes faster about 1 foot higher and slows down at speeds comparable to about 20 miles per hour (see NIST press release at

The NIST relativity measurements were also cited as number 9 of the Top 10 favorite and most popular stories of 2010 by ScienceNOW, the news feature site of Science magazine. “Researchers have used ultraprecise clocks to show that time flies faster for your nose than for your navel,” the citation notes (see

Science News also cited the NIST relativity demonstrations in a compilation of the top news of 2010 in the matter and energy category. The magazine said NIST’s “tabletop experiments demonstrate the time-warping effects of relativity at the human scale” (see

In addition, a NIST computer pioneer made the Science News list of top news in the technology category. The now-retired researcher, who created the first digital image while working at NIST (then called the National Bureau of Standards) in 1957, recently wrote a program that reshapes the grains of these images. The magazine said the work will “take the edge off square pixels” (see and the magazine’s original story at The creation of the first digital image is described in a NIST news article at

Popular Science selected NIST’s “racetrack” ion trap as one of the most amazing science images of 2010, stating that the “maze of electrodes … brings us closer to building quantum computers” (see The device is described in a NIST news article at