Number 101 (Story #2), October 30, 1992 by Phillip F. Schewe and Ben Stein|
A NEW DETERMINATION OF THE RYDBERG CONSTANT gives a value of 109237.315683 cm**-1 with an uncertainty of 2.9 parts in 10**11. Denoted by the letter R, the Rydberg Constant is the constant of proportionality in the formula (first derived by Balmer in 1885) prescribing the wavelengths of an atom's spectrum. (The number refers to hydrogen, but R can be calculated for the other elements.) The new value for R was obtained in an experiment comparing the frequencies of three transition lines in atomic hydrogen. The work was carried out by scientists at the National Institute of Metrology in Paris (F. Nez et al., Physical Review Letters, 19 Oct. 1992.) A more precise R will help in various tests of quantum electrodynamics.