How To Measure The Tiniest Forces In The Universe

How To Measure The Tiniest Forces In The Universe

This lab measures the tiniest forces in the universe. This video is sponsored by Brilliant. You can get started for free, or the first 200 people to sign up via get 20% off a yearly subscription.

Thanks to Rich Press and NIST for the great visit.
Thanks to Dr. Gordon Shaw for showing us around his lab and teaching us about measuring tiny forces.
You can check out all the cool work going on at NIST here:


Lee, J. (2016). Measuring Tiny Forces With Light. NIST. –

Melcher, J., Stirling, J., Guzman, F., Pratt, J. & Shaw, G. (2014). A self-calibrating optomechanical force sensor with femtonewton resolution. Applied Physics Letters. –

Special thanks to our Patreon supporters:
Bernard McGee, James Sanger, Elliot Miller, Brian Busbee, Jerome Barakos M.D., Amadeo Bee, TTST, Balkrishna Heroor, Chris LaClair, John H. Austin Jr.,, Eric Sexton, John Kiehl, Diffbot, Gnare, Dave Kircher, Burt Humburg, Blake Byers, Evgeny Skvortsov, Meekay, Bill Linder, Paul Peijzel, Josh Hibschman, Mac Malkawi, Mike Schneider, John Bauer, Jim Buckmaster, Juan Benet, Sunil Nagaraj, Richard Sundvall, Lee Redden, Stephen Wilcox, Marinus Kuivenhoven, Michael Krugman, Cy ‘kkm’ K’Nelson, Sam Lutfi

Written by Derek Muller
Edited by Trenton Oliver
Animation by Ivy Tello
Filmed by Derek Muller, Trenton Oliver, and Emily Zhang
Additional video/photos supplied by Pond5 & Getty Images
Music from Epidemic Sound
Produced by Derek Muller, Petr Lebedev, and Emily Zhang

You may also like...

28 Responses

  1. Gary Ermann says:

    NIST is such an incredible institution, it’s hard to overstate how important of a role they play in our world. Massive respect to everyone who works there, and thank you Derek for featuring them in your videos and educating more people about what they do.

  2. Gitah says:

    One of the rare videos where Derek doesn’t have to explain something on the side. He pretty much stood there and let Gordon do all the explaining. Fantastic man.

  3. Wolfman Dude says:

    PLEASE more videos like this! I could listen to people like him for hours! There are so many like him doing incredible scientific things that almost nobody ever sees. Videos like this really give those people the praise they deserve!

  4. James Fredrick says:

    This man is AWESOME. The way he is so excited to share, his analogies, and explanations are filled with passion. Truly a cool guy and I’m glad someone like him got to have the spotlight and share his knowledge and fascinations

  5. Séverine Hedi says:

    This man looks so excited and full of energy to share his knowledge. Just like a kid waiting to get home to tell his parents what he learnt at school

  6. Vitaliy Romanyuk says:

    Dr. Gordon Shaw is such an energetic person and is so passionate about his job! Love that!

    The accomplishment of weighing such a small objects is truly mind-blowing!

    Thanks for the video to all Veritasium crew and people from NIST. Good luck in your research!

  7. AmethystTalon says:

    That is really fascinating. I’d love to see a part two (if it’s possible) about how you go about making the tiny, ultra precise devices he was talking about, because to make something that precise has got to involve some pretty amazing engineering

    • GCOS Benbow says:

      That gets into what he was explaining, the smaller the measurements you can detect and have confidence in the better the equipment to make the devices to get those smaller confident measurements. If I’m understanding his explanation; they can control the output of electricity (and therefore the strength of the laser) to such a degree that they can pinpoint how much mass a material must have to vibrate at a certain amplitude and frequency. So it all hinges on the ability to detect and control electrical potentials to minute details.

  8. Yash Garg says:

    I had Metrology in my last semester and was not getting any interest in that but this video is just amazing and now I am actually able to recollect all those traceability and other terms that I just rot for my exams, lol. Only if you could have posted the video 1 month ago, I would have gotten much better grades in it 🙂
    Anyways, thanks for being consistent and frequent Derek.

  9. FarrellBeast says:

    As a scale technician, I love your videos on weights and measures. Great stuff!!

  10. Andrew Ryan says:

    I could listen to a morning seminar from this man for hours and not be the slightest bit bored. His passion and knowledge are contagious and admirable!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *