Scientists from NASA are planning to develop the coolest place in the universe inside the International Space Station (ISS) to study quantum level physics.
Naturally, space has a temperature of down to 3 degrees K, or 454 degrees below zero Fahrenheit.
“We’re going to study matter at temperatures far colder than are found naturally,” said Rob Thompson of JPL. He’s the Project Scientist for NASA’s Cold Atom Lab, an atomic ‘refrigerator’ slated for launch to the ISS in 2016. “We aim to push effective temperatures down to 100 pico-Kelvin.”
At 100 pico-Kelvin, atoms achieve complete thermal inactivity. This temperature is just one ten billionth of a degree above absolute zero and the concept of gas, liquid or solid are not particularly important at this temperature. New forms of matter are studied at that level that is considered as quantum level.
The device, referred to as the Cold Atom Lab, would help scientists in studying new forms of matter and novel quantum phenomena.
“We’ll begin,” says Thompson, “by studying Bose-Einstein Condensates.”
“The Cold Atom Lab will allow us to study these objects at perhaps the lowest temperatures ever,” Thompson noted.
Researchers will study super-cool atomic gasses, they will make their mixtures and study the outcomes. “Mixtures of different types of atoms can float together almost completely free of perturbations,” explained Thompson, “allowing us to make sensitive measurements of very weak interactions. This could lead to the discovery of interesting and novel quantum phenomena.”
You can download The Cold Atom Lab Mission poster (PDF) at the link: http://coldatomlab.jpl.nasa.gov/documents/CAL_sci_poster_0709e.pdf
The Coldest Spot in the Known Universe – NASA (http://goo.gl/BeJMBM)
Cold Atom Laboratory – http://coldatomlab.jpl.nasa.gov/