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Test of equivalence principle searches for effects of spin-gravity coupling

Posted July 17, 2014
equivalence principle
Experimental configuration to test the equivalence principle, in which two strontium isotopes are laser-cooled and trapped in a vertical optical lattice. Credit: Tarallo, et al. ©2014 American Physical Society

Einstein’s equivalence principle states that an object in gravitational free fall is physically equivalent to an object that is accelerating with the same amount of force in the absence of gravity. This principle lies at the heart of general relativity and has been experimentally tested many times. Now in a new paper, scientists have experimentally demonstrated a conceptually new way to test the equivalence principle that could detect the effects of a relatively new concept called spin-gravity coupling.

The study, by M. G. Tarallo, et al., is published in a recent issue of Physical Review Letters.

“Testing the , or the equivalence of inertial mass and gravitational mass, means testing the validity of one of the fundamental principles of general relativity,” coauthor Guglielmo Tino, Professor at the University of Florence, INFN, told “In our experiment, we use a quantum sensor to investigate gravitational interaction; this allowed us to search for new effects.”

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