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JUNE 2020 I SMT007 MAGAZINE 55 Researchers at MIT and elsewhere combined the power of a super collider with laser spectroscopy to pre- cisely measure a short-lived radioactive molecule, radium monofluoride, for the first time. The results are published in Nature. Precision studies of radioactive molecules open up pos- sibilities for scientists to search for new physics beyond the Standard Model. The team's experimental technique could also be used to perform laboratory studies of radio- active molecules produced in astrophysical processes. "Our results pave the way to high-precision studies of short-lived radioactive molecules," says the study's lead author, Ronald Fernando Garcia Ruiz, assistant professor of physics at MIT. The team looked for a way to make radium monoflu- oride, or RaF—a radioactive molecule that contains a heavy, unstable radium atom, and a fluoride atom. This molecule is interesting because certain isotopes of the radium nucleus are themselves asymmetrical, resem- bling a pear, with more mass on one end of the nucleus than the other. Theorists predicted that the energy structure of radium monofluoride would make the molecule amenable to laser cooling—a technique using lasers to decrease the temperature of molecules and slow them enough to per- form precision studies. While most molecules have many energy states they can occupy, with large numbers of vibrational and rotational states, radium monofluoride favors electronic transitions between a few energy lev- els—an unusually simple molecule to control with laser cooling. (Source: MIT News) Physicists Measure a Short-lived Radioactive Molecule for the First Time mere mortals, leadership, like anything, is a lit- tle bit knack and a lot of hard work. It's sharp- ening the saw. They're generally the excep- tion, but they're out there. Most people wind up being a leader in some way, shape, or form at some point in their lives. The difference is the people who take that knack and work hard to improve their skills in that area because it is something that you can learn by doing. You can learn by talking to oth- ers, as well as through trial and error; that's how you get better. Learning is fundamentally a feedback loop. The only way to improve is to make sure that you're getting some feed- back so that you can make those adjustments because none of us are perfect every day. A healthy organization has feedback. It's not necessarily always about paperwork, but the quiet moments where somebody says, "What are you doing?" or where the boss says to an employee, "This doesn't seem like you. What's going on?" That's the most personal and pro- ductive part of leadership. Matties: Do you have any final thoughts about leadership? Forsythe: Leadership is very important, and it's not always one person. Most organizations have the penultimate person, but good orga- nizations have leadership not only at the top but throughout the ranks in small teams at the lower levels of the organization. There are leaders there, and they're growing, and they all need to work on becoming a little bit bet- ter. The guys who are a few steps ahead need to be working with those people—particularly people who don't think they're leaders. A lot of terrific leaders don't think they should be. Helping them get over that inhibition or denial is often the most rewarding stuff. Matties: Tom, thank you for all your insights. Forsythe: I appreciate it, Barry. SMT007

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