Xenophilia (True Strange Stuff)

The blog of Xeno, a slightly mad scientist

Coldest spot in known universe: NASA to study almost absolute zero matter at ISS

20140206-140127.jpgNASA has revealed its plans to create the coldest spot in the known universe on board the International Space Station in 2016. The researchers are preparing to study matter at temperatures near absolute zero, revealing the world of quantum mechanics.

The US space agency has announced that its researchers are currently working on the Cold Atom Laboratory, “the coolest spot in the universe”, which will be ready for installation inside the International Space Station by December 2015.

There are several reasons underlying the scientific drive to explore characteristics and qualities of matter in conditions that are difficult to replicate on Earth. Space’s low temperatures, unattainable in terrestrial laboratories, reveal the wave nature of atoms, as well as possibly new phenomena. The absence of gravity additionally allows such experiments to last longer – up to 20 seconds.

“We’re going to study matter at temperatures far colder than are found naturally,” said the project’s head scientist Rob Thompson of Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).”We aim to push effective temperatures down to 100 pico-Kelvin.”

One hundred pico-Kelvin is remarkable in that it is a mere ten billionth of a degree above absolute zero (0K or −273.15°C) – a point on an imaginary thermometer where all thermal activity of atoms theoretically halts. When temperatures are so low, our traditional ideas of atomic behavior cease to apply. The matter is no longer solid, liquid or gas – its atoms tend to create quantum forms of matter. …

“We’ll begin by studying Bose-Einstein Condensates,” he said. “The Cold Atom Lab will allow us to study these objects at perhaps the lowest temperatures ever.”

The condensates, named after Satyendra Bose and Albert Einstein, who predicted them in the beginning of the 20th century, were, in fact, discovered only in 1995. And in 2001, Eric Cornell and Carl Wieman shared the Nobel Prize with Wolfgang Ketterle for their independent discovery of the intriguing capacity of rubidium and sodium atoms to form a single wave of matter when cooled to temperatures slightly above the absolute zero threshold.

The researches, planned by NASA, are aimed at studying ultra-cold quantum gases in the microgravity of the ISS besides other experiments. … The Cold Atom Lab, which actually is designed “for use by multiple investigators” and is “upgradable and maintainable on orbit,” is scheduled to be launched inside the ISS in early 2016, where it will be able to function for 5 years.

http://www.infowars.com/coldest-spot-in-known-universe-nasa-to-study-almost-absolute-zero-matter-at-iss/

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Information

This entry was posted on February 3, 2014 by in Physics, Space.
%d bloggers like this: