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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 on the subject, the subject was treated theoretically as far back as (at least), and is discussed in Kittel and Kroemer's classic on thermal physics. This may be the first experimental realization of negative temperatures though. Actually you are sort of correct (despite what other posters have said). The authors of this paper are using the statistical physics definition of temperat... [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 :O
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 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-interacting, identical (but distinguishable) particles - i.e. an ideal gas. In that case the temperature is related to the average kinetic energy of the particles. Since kinetic energy is a strictly positive term, an average kinetic energy of zero implies that all particles in the system have zero kinetic energy. So in this situation, absolute zero does correspond to a complete absence of motion (which you rightly s... [More]
Comment icon #24 Posted by Rolci on 1 July, 2013, 23:38
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 on this research lists most of the details. They ``tinker'' with it by adjusting the frequency, pulse width, etc. of the 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... 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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