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Scientists Build World's Most Sensitive Scale

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the weighing-air dept.

Science 68

Adrian Bachtold at the Catalan Institute of Nanotechnology in Barcelona has created the world's most sensitive scale. The new subatomic weight scale can measure masses as tiny as one yoctogram, less than the mass of a proton. From the article: "Bachtold hopes the scales could be used to distinguish different elements in chemical samples, which might differ only by a few protons. They might also diagnose health conditions by identifying proton-scale differences in molecular mass that are markers of disease."

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68 comments

Buying one will put you on "the list" (2, Insightful)

pecosdave (536896) | more than 2 years ago | (#39546917)

It's bad enough that model builders have to worry about cops making a big deal about owning precision scales. Now they're worried about coke dealer splitting granules.

Re:Buying one will put you on "the list" (3, Interesting)

xaxa (988988) | more than 2 years ago | (#39547235)

How precision is "precision"? What do model builders need, and what for?

In Europe most people weigh cooking ingredients (rather than measure volume, as in the US). My pretty average digital kitchen balance cost about £15 and is accurate to 1g (up to 5kg).

(I've also never bought coke. Is 1g a small enough amount, or do you need to measure 0.1g or whatever?)

Re:Buying one will put you on "the list" (1)

pecosdave (536896) | more than 2 years ago | (#39547327)

I'm not sure, but being a model builder is enough for "probable cause" in many places, so I'm sure the dealers like better. I mean I have to register to buy cold medicine around here, that scale should be something along the lines of shooting up flares.

Re:Buying one will put you on "the list" (5, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#39547365)

How precision is "precision"? What do model builders need, and what for?

Model railroad cars work best when all the cars have a certain specified mass. Too light and the odds of derailing increase, too heavy and the engine can't pull them. Also a "large" differential means that when going around curves you'll derail. If you're just taking premade or pre-designed cars out of a box you probably don't have to bother, but if you're substantially modifying the car, then it gets pretty important. I'm too lazy to look up the "standard mass for a N scale boxcar" but someone motivated could probably google for it. Obviously getting the G scale mass correct requires nothing more than a bathroom scale, but a N scale mass is going to require at least a very good kitchen scale, if not higher precision.

The R/C planes and model rockets I built had a mass goal, where the designer believes a skilled builder should be able to get the completed airframe down to a certain weight. Theres not a heck of a lot you can do if you are over, other than evaluate your skill level, etc. Maybe enormous glue fillets cause more problems via weight than they gain in strength. I'm old enough to have caught the tail end of tissue and dope covering (monokote was dominant... have been out of the hobby for a 1/4 century, is monokote still dominant? If its such ancient history no one knows what it is, monokote was a mylar film with heat glue on one side that you'd stick to the wood with a special little iron, then a hair dryer made it slightly shink to eat the wrinkles along with of course warping the airframe a little). The relevant part of the tissue-dope covering method is its easy to make a strong covering that is as thick and heavy as a rain tarp, but the goal is to apply the dope thinly enough that it weighs nothing. Besides, that stuff was expensive, at least to a kid, so don't waste it. Most people lied about the weight of their models, "its one ounce below the designers spec" is codeword for "damn thing is a pound overweight and I can't figure out why"

The R/C car people I hung with always weighed in the cars. Depending on your class of vehicle you had to be a certain mass. Too high or low was pretty strong evidence of modifications to a stock class car, and even the unlimited classes had certain limits, for safety and fairness I suppose. The track I ran at had a maximum weight, probably spec'd by insurance or just made up to fit the safety tires that protected the viewers.

The RC helicopter guys I knew measured the weight of their blades as accurately as they could before they even attempted to balance on the razor-edge balancing thingy. If one blade weighs a tenth of a gram more than the other, its a waste of time to even begin balancing until they match on the scale.

I'm old enough that the epoxy resin and hardener for fiberglass had to be weighed because of volumetric variation and temperature coefficient of expansion issues and if I recall the catalyst was shipped bare, without fillers, so the modern technique of "just squirt out equal volumes by size" didn't work. To do a small fiberglass repair, you'd squirt out a glob of epoxy resin that looked "about right" then measure it to be, perhaps, 22.0 grams. OK that means you need to carefully squirt out precisely 1.1 additional grams of catalyst, then mix and apply to the boat fiberglass. Too much catalyst means its weak and sets prematurely. Too little catalyst and maybe it wouldn't set at all, which was always an unholy PITA.

"need" is not relevant to model building. Completely wrong word, at least for non-working models. You do not need a 1/24 scale model of a PanzerKampfwagon-IIIe or a R/C sailboat. You do not need to paint it the precisely correct color. "want" is the word you should have used. And the value of that "want" is nothing more than how much hobby money is available at the time of purchase. Its actually very much like watching TV... lots of "need need need" words but its really "want want want"

Re:Buying one will put you on "the list" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39548381)

I'm old enough to have caught the tail end of tissue and dope covering

I'm old enough to remember how odd I felt walking into the hobby shop and asking "where do you keep the dope?"

Re:Buying one will put you on "the list" (0)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 2 years ago | (#39548467)

How precision is "precision"? What do model builders need, and what for?

Model railroad cars work best when all the cars have a certain specified mass. Too light and the odds of derailing increase, too heavy and the engine can't pull them. I'm too lazy to look up the "standard mass for a N scale boxcar" but someone motivated could probably google for it.

The "standard mass", as quoted by the NMRA, is expressed in fractions of an ounce - the smallest amount noted is .15 oz (4.25 grams) per scale foot. I.E. not very precise at all, and well within the capability of a kitchen scale of modest precision and cost.
 

"need" is not relevant to model building.

Correct. But despite that and all of your handwaving, anyone weighing to an accuracy of more than .1 gram (.003 oz) or so is out at the end of the bell curve.
 
I note in passing that you don't appear to have actually done most of the things you talk about, or at least haven't done them recently enough that .1 gram resolution scales weren't incredibly expensive and unusual.

Re:Buying one will put you on "the list" (2, Insightful)

Dishevel (1105119) | more than 2 years ago | (#39549171)

Where ever you fall on the bell curve does not matter. If I want a scale that is accurate to 1/1000th of a gram for measuring flour then I should be able to buy one without government agencies drilling into my life. If I want cold medication I should not have to remember to bring my ID. At a certain point people have to tell their governments to "fuck right off". When we do not we lose our rights and our freedoms.

Re:Buying one will put you on "the list" (-1, Flamebait)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 2 years ago | (#39549469)

*yawn*. The standard anti-goverment rant. How droll. And boring.

Re:Buying one will put you on "the list" (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 2 years ago | (#39550441)

In university chemistry class we were using some kind of really specific scales for weighing something for an experiment. You could actually watch the weight change as the sample sat on the scale. Something to do with the evaporation of the water from the sample if I remember correctly. I really have to wonder what's the point of such a sensitive scale. But the time you removed the sample from the scale to the experiment, the measurement you had previously made would be invalid.

Re:Buying one will put you on "the list" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39555495)

Model railroad cars work best when all the cars have a certain specified mass. Too light and the odds of derailing increase, too heavy and the engine can't pull them. Also a "large" differential means that when going around curves you'll derail. If you're just taking premade or pre-designed cars out of a box you probably don't have to bother, but if you're substantially modifying the car, then it gets pretty important. I'm too lazy to look up the "standard mass for a N scale boxcar" but someone motivated could probably google for it. Obviously getting the G scale mass correct requires nothing more than a bathroom scale, but a N scale mass is going to require at least a very good kitchen scale, if not higher precision.

My father was and still is an avid model railroader (HO scale). He even added a room to the house I grew up in just for a train layout and designed his current house with an even larger train room built in. We built a lot of kit cars, but he also built a lot of cars from scratch and I don't recall there being a scale to weigh them ever. I do remember some cars (especially the ones built from scratch) having fishing weights glued inside of them but exact precision was not a big deal. If a particular rail car derailed too often adjustments would be made.

For N (and Z) scale it might matter more but we never dabbled in anything that tiny. IMO the only reason to have N scale is if you lack the room for HO and Z scale is just extreme for the sake of being extreme. Most derailments came down to bad switches or simply running full throttle on curves with a particularly fast engine (a favorite thing for me to do as a kid).

Re:Buying one will put you on "the list" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39547493)

(I've also never bought coke. Is 1g a small enough amount, or do you need to measure 0.1g or whatever?)

It's been about 15 years but back then the increments were 1/4g.

Re:Buying one will put you on "the list" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39548971)

i think most drug dealers usually measure with a scale that goes to .01 which are widely available in the consumer market. .1 grams would be about $5-6 worth

Re:Buying one will put you on "the list" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39549017)

How precision is "precision"? What do model builders need, and what for?

A friend of mine has a game company that makes resin kit models. Having an accurate scale allows him to price his kits correctly based on the amount of resin used. 2-part resin is not cheap, especially in the quantities that he goes through when developing a new kit.

Re:Buying one will put you on "the list" (2)

drerwk (695572) | more than 2 years ago | (#39549065)

Smallish servos for RC are in the 1.5-8 gram range, and measured to the 1/10 gram. http://www.pololu.com/catalog/category/23 [pololu.com]
There are much smaller actuators - Plantraco MicroACT. Weight is 0.41 grams and it comes with a Nano connector. http://www.bsdmicrorc.com/index.php?productID=601 [bsdmicrorc.com]
Plantraco HingeACT as used on their Butterfly. Weight 0.22 gms.
And I suspect that these are on among the heavier components of small planes. http://www.microflight.com/Micro-Butterfly-RTF-Set [microflight.com] : Wingspan 3.5 inches (114mm) Flying Weight 2.6g
So the whole airplane is 2.6g.

Re:Buying one will put you on "the list" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39549849)

Hey Buddy, "Wanna get weighed?"

Re:Buying one will put you on "the list" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39547573)

It's bad enough that model builders have to worry about cops making a big deal about owning precision scales. Now they're worried about coke dealer splitting granules.

I "highly" doubt that drug dealers are worried about ripping you off at the proton level. I'm certain they don't mind rounding up to rip you off at much higher levels of inaccuracy.

Re:Buying one will put you on "the list" (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | more than 2 years ago | (#39556951)

I know, right? I had a feeling my cocaine dealer was shorting me a couple yoctograms every time. Now with this scale, I can ensure square trades every time. It's a shame only drug dealers would ever, ever use such a device and thus it would raise such high suspicions. I mean, what use would a scientist have for it?

Identifying proton-scale differences... (1)

OneAhead (1495535) | more than 2 years ago | (#39546921)

...I thought that's what mass spectrometers were for.

Re:Identifying proton-scale differences... (3, Informative)

Arrepiadd (688829) | more than 2 years ago | (#39546957)

Well, mass spectrometers have the (slight) disadvantage of needing a charged "particle". if it's neutral (and for whatever reason you cannot charge it), this seems like a possible solution.
Granted, it looks like it has a lot of drawbacks of its own (like the heating part).

Re:Identifying proton-scale differences... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39548395)

You can charge any element or molecule with ease. You just zap the stuff a bit. The voltages needed are nothing special, and lower than what's required to run an old-fashioned CRT monitor.

The main "disadvantage" of a mass spectrometer is that they're destructive, not the issue of charging the particles. You end up powdering a bit of your sample to put inthe spectrometer.

Re:Identifying proton-scale differences... (1)

OneAhead (1495535) | more than 2 years ago | (#39551453)

True, but mass spectrometers are also famously sensitive, so the amount of sample you end up losing is usually so small you don't care.

Re:Identifying proton-scale differences... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39552079)

It is not just destructive in the sense you destroy the sample, but the process of trying to charge the molecules will typically fracture more complex molecules into several parts, and not consistently. Using a mass spectrometer on more complex molecules can be a huge pain, as you have to figure out how to recombine all of fragments to get the original masses, especially if there was a mixture of masses to start with.

It is the difference between saying "Give me the distribution of lengths of these wood boards" and "Give me the distribution of lengths these wood boards had before I let a high school shop class cut them up into various sized pieces."

Re:Identifying proton-scale differences... (4, Informative)

paiute (550198) | more than 2 years ago | (#39547347)

...I thought that's what mass spectrometers were for.

They are. High resolution mass specs measure down to 0.0001 amu (where 1 amu = the mass of a proton). I think the potential here is not for the resolution but the ability of the nanotube scale to measure the mass using a sample of only a few molecules, where a mass spec experiment will need to have a lot more than that injected into the detector.

Re:Identifying proton-scale differences... (2)

Mt._Honkey (514673) | more than 2 years ago | (#39550505)

High resolution mass specs measure down to 0.0001 amu

My mass spectrometer (a Penning trap) routinely measures 1E-8 amu (10^-32 grams), and the best traps are pushing 1E-12 amu. They're getting to the point where they can see the chemical binding (mass-)energy between atoms in a molecule.

The method in the article is neat, but they've chosen a peculiar definition of "scale" in order to classify this as the most sensitive one.

New Scientist hyperbole (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39546933)

"They might also diagnose health conditions by identifying proton-scale differences in molecular mass that are markers of disease."

Really? Was that even mentioned by the researchers or just added in by NS to try to sell more copies... I've never heard of isotopic diseases.

Re:New Scientist hyperbole (3, Informative)

Guignol (159087) | more than 2 years ago | (#39547285)

It's not the disease that is isotopic, it's the marker

Re:New Scientist hyperbole (1)

defnoz (1128875) | more than 2 years ago | (#39547313)

Sounds like BS to me; conventional GCMS [wikipedia.org] can resolve differences in molecular weight to a fraction of a proton's mass. And these techniques are used very heavily already, I think any mysterious "proton-scale differences" (sounds like quackery in itself) would have been noticed.

BTW whilst there aren't any isotopic diseases - unless you count cancers due to radioactive isotopes of otherwise fine elements - there is burgeoning interest in isotopic drugs [corante.com] , although it's questionable how much is genuine benefit and how much patent trickery.

Re:New Scientist hyperbole (2)

uigrad_2000 (398500) | more than 2 years ago | (#39548391)

That's the first thing that I thought of too, so I figured the article may specify that it was the "most sensitive spring scale" or "most sensitive balance", so that mass spectrometry instruments would be excluded.

But, after reading the very poorly made article, It looks like it is neither a scale nor a balance. Instead, a molecule of Xenon was placed on nanotubes, and the way that the nanotubes "vibrate" determines how much mass was resting upon them. The xenon does not form any bonds with the scale's surface, and I think the only interaction is gravitational, so maybe this could be considered a scale, in a way.

I would guess that another article with more precise wording exists some place, but I can't find any such article on the web.

Re:New Scientist hyperbole (1)

Maow (620678) | more than 2 years ago | (#39551173)

Really? Was that even mentioned by the researchers or just added in by NS to try to sell more copies... I've never heard of isotopic diseases.

Maybe it's just a misspelling of this [wikipedia.org] ?

(I'll get my coat now...)

01 April ... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39546945)

Oh come on, this has to be a 1 April gag.

Have they fixed... (3, Interesting)

jtownatpunk.net (245670) | more than 2 years ago | (#39547005)

Have they fixed that whole "kilogram standard losing mass" thing yet?

Which dynamic ? (2)

KingofSpades (874684) | more than 2 years ago | (#39547023)

Very interesting. However the article does not mention the maximum weight this scale is able to measure.

I'd love to know how many protons I am made of. I guess this scale won't help !

Re:Which dynamic ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39547033)

C'mon - it's a simple Fermi problem

Re:Which dynamic ? (2)

KingofSpades (874684) | more than 2 years ago | (#39547059)

Sure, I can compute this number with 2 significant digits. But with a scale which can measure masses to the nearest yoctogram I'd like 24 significant digits ! That's not what I call a Fermi problem. Going back to the original question, a wild guess would be a dynamic of 100. But I can't afford 18 dollars to read the paper. I could pay a yoctodollar, though !

At last we shall.... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39547053)

....find out if farts have weight!

Re:At last we shall.... (1)

MisterMidi (1119653) | more than 2 years ago | (#39547135)

I bet they have negative weight.

USPS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39547075)

Sorry sir, your are 10 atoms over the allowable weight, please re-pack.

Re:USPS (3, Funny)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#39547863)

The airlines are probably placing pre-orders as we speak.

Misread title. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39547111)

I first read it as massive, so I thought it was about your mom. Then I re read it as smaller and realized they were making a scale for your penis.

Re:Misread title. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39547803)

But no matter how precise the scale is, you still have a fat ass.

Will this sensitive scale cry? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39547121)

If you put this sensitive scale in front of a chick-flick, will it start crying when the lead character breaks up with her boyfriend or when she nurses a lost kitten back to health?

I'll have the salad :( (5, Funny)

AbRASiON (589899) | more than 2 years ago | (#39547139)

Hold the dressing, I've gained three yoctograms this week!

I was like 0mg! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39547165)

Had to...

I can use it for weighing luggage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39547299)

I could use a scale like that to make sure my luggage is not a single yoctogram over the weight limit at the airline.

Just don't mention weight around this scale (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39547307)

... it's very sensitive

We shall use my larger scales! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39547373)

We shall use my larger scales!
Right... Remove the supports!

Will they make an american edition? (2)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 2 years ago | (#39547585)

How long until the american edition?

I want to measure my pressure in hundredths of yoctopounds per square pixie feet.

And, no, I don't know where I'll find a square pixie.

Re:Will they make an american edition? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39547693)

And, no, I don't know where I'll find a square pixie.

At the local Apple store?

Re:Will they make an american edition? (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#39548189)

You're confusing them with fairies.

Re:Will they make an american edition? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39556643)

If you box in a pixie, the pixie will approximate a square well enough. Problem now is, finding a pixie...

This scale... (1)

Nrrqshrr (1879148) | more than 2 years ago | (#39547883)

... must be hell to calibrate.

The Date (1)

morgauxo (974071) | more than 2 years ago | (#39547911)

Ok, The Slashdot article was posted today, the 2nd but TFA is from April 1st! Come on now, even if there was such a scale how would one use it? It would have to be in a vacuum, think what air molecules bumping into it would do. Not to mention any stray particles. Dust grains would be like dropping mountains on the thing! I know there are such a thing as clean rooms but that clean?

T Wrong FA (1)

LeadSongDog (1120683) | more than 2 years ago | (#39550437)

does however link to T Real FA at http://www.nature.com/nnano/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nnano.2012.42.html/ [nature.com] , the paper in Nature Nanotechnology. So yes, it is in a near-vacuum. They're looking at changes in the resonance frequency of the nanotube as a gas molecule impinges on its surface.

what is it about biomedical claims (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39548039)

that bring out the > gee whiz flying cars are next year teen in otherwise sensible people
yoctomass gram balances for clinical diagnostics ain't gonna happen
for proteins,Aside from, say variations in phosphorylation state, variation in amidation, variations in sulfer oxidation state, variation in glycosylation, isotopic variations due to diet etc, miss translation, there is no "speciificity" (two monocolonal antibodies, one with fluorophore, one with magnetic particle, or FRET assay, ,..do you get the drift, or should I snow some more ?

Garbage (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39548083)

This is terrible, incorrect reporting. It's a wonderful feat of science, don't get me wrong, but the portrayal is completely inaccurate.

Penning traps are the most sensitive "scales" available, and they are much more sensitive than this. I've worked with Penning traps, and we regularly measured masses of 100 keV/c^2, which is 1/10,000 of a proton, or 0.00017 yoctograms in the parlance of this article. There were many Penning traps that were much more precise than ours, too.

There are several much simpler methods available to weigh something at a resolution of 1 amu (roughly 1 proton or neutron). You can buy commercial mass spectrometry instruments to do that.

Also, isotopic differences don't change the chemical properties of molecules, by definition. A hydrocarbon with some 13C will behave exactly like a hydrocarbon with only 12C, chemically speaking. You'll only get different quantum effects - which have no bearing on any known health condition.

Re:Garbage (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39548523)

Also, isotopic differences don't change the chemical properties of molecules, by definition.

That is neither by definition nor correct. The effects are just very small usually, depending on the difference in mass involved. The difference between protium and deuterium are quite noticeable, especially in some biological systems (try replacing an organism's water with heavy water). Even carbon-12 and carbon-13 have slight differences sometimes. Plants with c4 carbon fixation fix slightly different ratios of carbon-12 and carbon-12 from c3 carbon fixation plants. It is enough to sometimes tell the difference of where a sugar came from, e.g. if honey is pure, or has been cut with corn syrup (although in my opinion, if it tastes good, and you can't tell the difference with normal chemical tests, it probably doesn't matter).

But What About The Volume? (1)

Toad-san (64810) | more than 2 years ago | (#39548153)

Great, so you can compare the weights of two samples to the almost infinitesimal. But how do you ensure the two samples are the same "size" ? I'm afraid your kitchen teaspoon just isn't going to hack it :-( For two finished products (e.g., those rotor blades in one of the other comments), fine. But a sample from nature?

Think of the wide range in something as simple as "eye of newt"!

Weight of anti-matter? (1)

gr8_phk (621180) | more than 2 years ago | (#39548197)

It's an open question in physics weather antimatter will fall toward earth or move away from it due to gravity. Is there any chance this scale could weigh an atom of anti-hydrogen?

Re:Weight of anti-matter? (1)

reverseengineer (580922) | more than 2 years ago | (#39549077)

This method seems to require direct contact between the nanotubes that make up the scale's mechanism and the analyte, so this device is probably not appropriate for that task.

Re:Weight of anti-matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39550173)

If antimatter behaves differently than normal matter, then why do we detect anti-neutrinos and neutrinos from supernova show up here on earth at the exact same time? If they behaved differently in the face of gravity, you would notice a difference in the arrival time. It may not be a 100% closed question, but I think it is darn close.

Also, didn't we trap anti-hydrogen atoms on a scale of 20 minutes? What came out of this?

One yoctogram? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39548225)

That's about one thousand helligrams, right? Right?!

You'll throw it off! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39548693)

The new subatomic weight scale can measure masses as tiny as one yoctogram...

so don't anybody breath!

lol, captcha: gravity

Noetic Sciences (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39548933)

I just want to know when they are going to be able to Accurately weigh the human soul... I just don't think 21grams is correct.
http://www.noeticsciences.co.uk/weighting-the-human-soul/
and
http://www.dapla.org/pdf/whs.pdf

Finally, we can prove or disprove telekinesis... (1)

rgbatduke (1231380) | more than 2 years ago | (#39549353)

Using this scale, it should be possible to absolutely positively and without question prove telekinesis if any such ability exists in humans. If telekinesis isn't capable of consistently exerting the force required to lift a single lousy proton, it isn't worth worrying about. Even if we are more conservative and insist that TK be capable of consistently exerting a whole femtonewton of force (the weight of a rather large number of protons, to be sure, but certain to be within the resolution of the device where weight of a proton is likely to be out there at the edge of resolution:-) it still isn't worth worrying about. A single "make the scale move" experiment with a statistically significant number of randomly selected humans can put absolute bounds on both prevalence and strength of any hypothesized TK ability, and when we fail to find it (as I rather suspect will be the case given the lack of any plausible physical mechanism for the asserted effect) maybe we can put a dagger once and for all through the heart of the idea, or at least come up with a gold-standard test for anyone who asserts that they have the ability.

rgb

Balance my engine (1)

whitedsepdivine (1491991) | more than 2 years ago | (#39550253)

Now if they can only balance my rotational mass in my engine this fine.

What about the atmospheric presure (1)

hobarrera (2008506) | more than 2 years ago | (#39550541)

Being so precise, won't the weight of the air in the room affect the results of the measurement?
Wouldn't you need to use this in a vacuum for it to be useful? Hell, won't undetectable temperature changes affect the air preasure and alter the results as well?

It can measure the mass of protons? Meh, (1)

phrackthat (2602661) | more than 2 years ago | (#39552579)

protons are huge mofos. Wake me up when they're using it to measure the mass of a neutrino.
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<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
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