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Ytterbium's broken symmetry: The largest parity violations ever measured in an atom


Ytterbium was discovered in 1878, but until it recently became useful in atomic clocks, the soft metal rarely made the news. Now ytterbium has a new claim to scientific fame. Measurements with ytterbium-174, an isotope with 70 protons and 104 neutrons, have shown the largest effects of parity violation in an atom ever observed - a hundred times larger than the most precise measurements made so far, with the element cesium.
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