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2022-06-18 20:39:24 By : Ms. Vivian Dong

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Gerald Gwinner is in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3T 2N2, Canada.

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Roshani Silwal is in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina 28608, USA.

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The co-inventor of the laser, Arthur Schawlow, famously suggested that one should never measure anything but frequency, because time is by far the most accurately measurable quantity. A corollary to this adage might be: if you have to determine the difference between two very similar frequencies, devise a method that measures this difference directly. Easier said than done, perhaps, but this is precisely what Sailer et al.1 have accomplished, as they report in a paper in Nature. In an experimental tour de force, they measured a tiny frequency difference, then used the result to extract the difference between the magnetic moments of two ions of distinct neon isotopes. And they did this with a remarkable fractional precision of half a trillionth the value of the moments themselves, representing a 100-fold improvement over existing methods. In doing so, they have provided a possible way of proving the existence of exotic interactions between electrons and nucleons (protons and neutrons).

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The authors declare no competing interests.

Washington University in St. Louis (WUSTL)

Saint Louis, MO, United States

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (ISMMS), MSHS

New York, NY, United States

Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

Technische Universität Dresden (TU Dresden)

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Nature (Nature) ISSN 1476-4687 (online) ISSN 0028-0836 (print)