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Atoms reach record low temperature

Posted on Monday, 7 January, 2013 | Comment icon 27 comments | News tip by: B Randomly

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Scientists have found a way to achieve temperatures lower than the coldest temperature possible.

Absolute zero is minus 459.67 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature at which atoms stop moving and the minimum temperature anything can possibly be - or at least that's what scientists thought. A team of researchers at the University of Munich in Germany have succeeded in turning this idea on its head by devising a concept of "negative temperature".

Because of the strange ways in which objects behave when cooled in to negative temperatures, the research could prove invaluable in the hunt for answers to some of science's biggest questions as well as providing new concepts for engine cooling. "A better understanding of temperature could lead to new things we haven't even thought of yet," said team scientist Ulrich Schneider. "When you study the basics very thoroughly, you never know where it may end."

"Absolute zero is often thought to be the coldest temperature possible."

  View: Full article |  Source: Live Science

  Discuss: View comments (27)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #18 Posted by sepulchrave on 8 January, 2013, 8:20
In my opinion, the article is definitely too sensational. The existence and the nature of negative temperatures - in the statistical mechanics sense - is well known. There is a reasonably extensive wiki article on the subject, the subject was treated theoretically as far back as 1951 (at least), and is discussed in Kittel and Kroemer's classic introductory text book on thermal physics. This may be the first experimental realization of negative temperatures though. I believe they measure with equations, In science lot of things can be measured with equations. Actually you are sort of correct (d... [More]
Comment icon #19 Posted by dan-paul-mark on 9 January, 2013, 1:24
this is just an idea but from what i read i got the impression that in normal possitive temperature conditions atoms have a force which repels other atoms away, so as a particle heats up and moves with more force it then pushes atoms around it to do the same. in negative energy the force is reversed to then pull sorrounding atoms causing them to slow down. is it possible that this could be linked with black holes and collapsing stars, is it poosible to use this to create extremely dense matter as possitive tempretures decreases the density of things?
Comment icon #20 Posted by csspwns on 10 January, 2013, 4:52
wtf this was my damn link
Comment icon #21 Posted by B Randomly on 15 January, 2013, 0:13
I did create a thread, (refer to OP)... it says it's merged, so maybe a double posted thread? You are more than welcome to have it, though.
Comment icon #22 Posted by Br Cornelius on 18 January, 2013, 17:41
I understood that absolute temperature is the absence of atomic motion, This represents an absolute state of existence - a thing is in motion or it is static. In this case anything other than stasis has a temperature. There has never been an atom reduced to absolute stasis, so what they are describing must be a statistical artifact of the system and not a deion of its real physical state. Am I wrong here ? Br Cornelius
Comment icon #23 Posted by sepulchrave on 20 January, 2013, 0:06
I understood that absolute temperature is the absence of atomic motion, This represents an absolute state of existence - a thing is in motion or it is static. In this case anything other than stasis has a temperature. There has never been an atom reduced to absolute stasis, so what they are describing must be a statistical artifact of the system and not a deion of its real physical state. Am I wrong here ? Br Cornelius I guess... ``sort of'' ? The temperature that you speak of is really only rigorously defined (in my opinion, anyway) in terms of a statistically large ensemble of non-interactin... [More]
Comment icon #24 Posted by Rolci on 1 July, 2013, 23:38
What I understand this article is trying to say is, if PV=NkT, and P is pressure meaning particles hitting the wall of the container, these guys, buy making all particles attracting each other more often than repelling, virtually created negative pressure, resulting, in principle, in negative temperature. What I want to know is, what exactly do they mean by "tinkering with the interactions between atoms until they attracted each other more than they repelled each other."
Comment icon #25 Posted by DieChecker on 2 July, 2013, 1:30
That is probably propriatary knowledge that someone is going to have to Pay to find out. Probably that information will make it into the public sector in a couple years.
Comment icon #26 Posted by sepulchrave on 2 July, 2013, 4:08
I don't think the knowledge is proprietary. The actual paper on this research lists most of the details. They ``tinker'' with it by adjusting the frequency, pulse width, etc. of the optical lattice in relation to the temperature of the ensemble.
Comment icon #27 Posted by DieChecker on 2 July, 2013, 4:10
How do lasers effectively trap particles? Are the lasers used to actually adjust the magnetic fields they are using, or something like that? Edit: Should have read the links first... The actual paper optical lattice The resulting periodic potential may trap neutral atoms via the Stark shift. Atoms are cooled and congregate in the locations of potential minima. So apparently the lasers push around the atoms, till some are trapped in the wavelength pockets? Interesting.... I have barely enough understanding of physics to have an idea how this works...

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