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Scientists Using Lasers To Cool Molecules

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the my-fridge-is-powered-by-fire dept.

Shark 169

An anonymous reader writes "Ever since audiences heard Goldfinger utter the famous line, 'No, Mr. Bond; I expect you to die,' as a laser beam inched its way toward James Bond and threatened to cut him in half, lasers have been thought of as white-hot beams of intensely focused energy capable of burning through anything in their path. Now a team of Yale physicists has used lasers for a completely different purpose, employing them to cool molecules down to temperatures near absolute zero, about -460 degrees Fahrenheit. Their new method for laser cooling, described in the online edition of the journal Nature, is a significant step toward the ultimate goal of using individual molecules as information bits in quantum computing."

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Laser cooling? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33664012)

Laser cooling has been used for quite some time. What's the story here? The temperature?

Re:Laser cooling? (5, Informative)

ClickOnThis (137803) | more than 4 years ago | (#33664048)

Laser cooling has been used for quite some time. What's the story here? The temperature?

The difference here is that they have used it to cool molecules. Up to now, only atoms have been cooled using this method.

Re:Laser cooling? (1)

digitrev (989335) | more than 4 years ago | (#33664732)

And that's where I stop reading this article. Thank you ClickOnThis. You've actually saved me quite a bit of time trying determine how what I (thought) I learned two years ago in my Modern class was somehow a new technique. I'd mod you up, but sadly, I lack the points. Merci.

Re:Laser cooling? (2, Insightful)

SleazyRidr (1563649) | more than 4 years ago | (#33664864)

This is why I read /. I saw the headline, remembered trying to explain laser cooling to my Dad 10 years ago, and cam here to post that it was old news. The first thing I see however is your post telling me exactly what's going on. Thank you ClickOnThis for saving me time and frustration.

Re:Laser cooling? (1)

ajrs (186276) | more than 4 years ago | (#33665886)

didn't grok the summary?
article too long, didn't read?
There has got to be a better way!

Thanks, ClickOnThis!

I know, actually a useful contribution... but I couldn't resist.

OMG Sharks (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33664030)

.. with friggin' freeze rays on their heads .... *groan*

Re:OMG Sharks (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#33664230)

I want FRIKKIN molecules with FRIKKIN laser beams on their FRIKKIN...heads?

Frikkin Lasers, How Do they Work (1)

billstewart (78916) | more than 4 years ago | (#33664600)

I don't wanna ask a mad scientist, Y'all got frikkin sharks...

Re: Scientists Using Lasers to Cool Molecules (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33664040)

Cool!

Insensitive clod (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33664042)

-460 degrees Fahrenheit

Celsius, metric system, superior, catch up with the world, gay, Hitler, etc.

Farenheit? (3, Insightful)

muyla (1429487) | more than 4 years ago | (#33664066)

What about human readable units for once? maybe 1 Kelvin or -272C would be OK

Re:Farenheit? (2, Insightful)

Lifyre (960576) | more than 4 years ago | (#33664570)

Or if you're going to use worthless units at least use Rankine...

Re:Farenheit? (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 4 years ago | (#33665284)

There are a lot of science nerds who don't know offhand what a Rankine is. Asked without context, I know for sure that I wouldn't be able to come up with the definition. At least -470 degrees -460 degrees Fahrenheit gets across the idea of 'really, unbelievably, unimaginably cold' to most everyone, and 'most everyone' is the target audience of most news sites.

Re:Farenheit? (1)

necro81 (917438) | more than 4 years ago | (#33665970)

Rankine is simple: it's the absolute-zero referenced version of Fahrenheit. One degree Rankine is one degree Fahrenheit, by definition. Zero Rankine is absolute zero, or 459.67 F.

Or, put more compactly in word analogy form:
Rankine : Fahrenheit = Kelvin : Celcius

Re:Farenheit? (0, Redundant)

residieu (577863) | more than 4 years ago | (#33666304)

But nobody uses Rankine for anything. If you're going to use a measure that the target audience doesn't know, you might as well use the one that's appropriate for the field (Kelvin).

Re:Farenheit? (3, Insightful)

rossdee (243626) | more than 4 years ago | (#33664628)

I agree - I can understand Fahrenheit for weather and human body temps, but for cryogenics you should be using kelvin.

Re:Farenheit? (2, Informative)

easterberry (1826250) | more than 4 years ago | (#33664746)

As someone who isn't American I can't even do that. My entire knowledge of Farenheit is that 0 C is around 32 F. and 451 F is where paper burns. Also the conversion rate is like TempInCelcius * (9/5) -32 or something. It's really a terrible system to use for a scienctific article.

Re:Farenheit? (0)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 4 years ago | (#33665016)

"What about human readable units for once? maybe 1 Kelvin or -272C would be OK"

From the actual blurb:

cool molecules down to temperatures near what's known as absolute zero,

But I guess you needed to get your pro-metric post out ASAP so you could get modded up.

Besides, "kelvin" as a unit isn't capitalized, degrees Celsius (assuming you weren't talking coulombs) aren't SI, and neither number is absolute zero.

Re:Farenheit? (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 4 years ago | (#33666376)

When reference is made to the unit kelvin (either a specific temperature or a temperature interval), kelvin is always spelled with a lowercase k unless it is the first word in a sentence. When reference is made to the "Kelvin scale", the word "kelvin"—which is normally a noun—functions adjectivally to modify the noun "scale" and is capitalized.

Re:Farenheit? (1)

JordanL (886154) | more than 4 years ago | (#33665104)

Also of note: this experiment setup was designed over 30 years ago (and tested) by a Professor at the University of Colorado. Yale didn't do anything new here.

Re:Farenheit? (1)

JordanL (886154) | more than 4 years ago | (#33665150)

Pardon me, I mean about 20 years ago. :) (I am of course referring to Cornell and Wieman who won the Nobel prize for producing the first ever Bose-Einstein condensate.)

Re:Farenheit? (1)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 4 years ago | (#33665280)

I remember sitting in on a lecture on this 7 or 8 years ago.
It's facinating but I'm not sure what's new.

Re:Farenheit? (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#33665222)

maybe 1 Kelvin or -272C would be OK

I'll grant you the point on kelvin but why would -272C be any better than -460F? Celsius is every bit as arbitrary as Fahrenheit. Kelvin is somewhat better but probably not as practical for day to day use.

Re:Farenheit? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33665632)

95% of the planet understands Celsius and not Fahrenheit.

Re:Farenheit? (1)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 4 years ago | (#33665426)

Because that would just force me to do calculations to convert Kelvin or Celsius into Fahrenheit.

Re:Farenheit? (1)

T Murphy (1054674) | more than 4 years ago | (#33665684)

Given the wording "what's known as absolute zero", it seems assumed that the reader doesn't have much understanding of cryogenics, so given that target audience, -460F is the best way to communicate how cold this is (-272C assumedly wouldn't make sense to them). Ironically, you call for human readable units despite that being exactly what they were going for.

Energy, not heat. (4, Informative)

captaindomon (870655) | more than 4 years ago | (#33664070)

Laser beams are focused energy in the form of electromagnetic radiation, not energy in the form of thermal entropy of molecules in matter. There is a difference. Laser beams can transmit their heat to matter (they normally do), but laser beams are not "Hot".

Re:Energy, not heat. (0, Flamebait)

rainmouse (1784278) | more than 4 years ago | (#33665784)

A good laser has an infrared filter on it, but the cheap laser pointers have either inadequate filtering or none at all, which is what makes them dangerous.

Re:Energy, not heat. (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 4 years ago | (#33666394)

Cheap lasers use a low-power diode that at most would give you a negative-spot in your vision for a short duration of time. On top of that, they need no IR filter as the diode itself only emits within a very narrow wavelength range, typically the red pointers are either 630nm or 660nm.

So basically this means (1)

Even on Slashdot FOE (1870208) | more than 4 years ago | (#33664074)

Shooting things with laser until they stop moving cools them? I guess its for more than cooking now.

Re:So basically this means (4, Funny)

zero_out (1705074) | more than 4 years ago | (#33664488)

Shooting things with laser until they stop moving cools them? I guess its for more than cooking now.

When I shot the neighbor's cat, with my CO2 laser, until it stopped moving, it cooled down. It dropped from 101.5 degrees F, to about 63 degrees F (ambient temperature at the coolest part of that night) . It took several hours, but it cooled down.

[disclaimer] The above statement was purely jest. I have never shot anything with a laser, and have never intentionally harmed an animal. Any agency that is sniffing my packets will not find the stench of wrongdoing here. Just the stench of a bad joke.

Re:So basically this means (1)

Jahava (946858) | more than 4 years ago | (#33665024)

[disclaimer] Any agency that is sniffing my packets will find the stench of wrongdoing here.

Oh no, IP packet fragmentation!

Re:So basically this means (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 4 years ago | (#33665584)

Thank God for your, disclaimer because we, all thought you really had, a weaponized, laser in your house or on your, person.

News from 1978 (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33664092)

http://lmgtfy.com/?q=laser+cooling

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laser_cooling

News from 2010 (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33665182)

http://lmgtfy.com/?q=What%27s+the+difference+between+an+atom+and+a+molecule

"...lasers have been thought of as white-hot..." (4, Informative)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#33664124)

Wrong. Laser beams are very cold. The photons are highly ordered and there is very little random motion among them.

Re:"...lasers have been thought of as white-hot... (2, Insightful)

nacturation (646836) | more than 4 years ago | (#33664460)

Wrong. Laser beams are very cold. The photons are highly ordered and there is very little random motion among them.

Wrong? It's not true that the general Bond-watching audience thinks of lasers as being white hot?

Re:"...lasers have been thought of as white-hot... (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#33664614)

It's not true that the general Bond-watching audience thinks of lasers as being white hot?

The general Bond-watching audience cannot reasonably be said to think at all.

Re:"...lasers have been thought of as white-hot... (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#33665002)

So I guess you were watching a Bond film when you made that post and can thus be excused.

Re:"...lasers have been thought of as white-hot... (5, Funny)

Jahava (946858) | more than 4 years ago | (#33665056)

Wrong? It's not true that the general Bond-watching audience thinks of lasers as being white hot?

It's pretty obvious: The atoms are stirred, not shaken.

Re:"...lasers have been thought of as white-hot... (1)

demonbug (309515) | more than 4 years ago | (#33665134)

Wrong. Laser beams are very cold. The photons are highly ordered and there is very little random motion among them.

Wrong? It's not true that the general Bond-watching audience thinks of lasers as being white hot?

Clearly we think of them as red-hot.
Actually I haven't seen Goldfinger in ages, but weren't the lasers red? Wouldn't it then be logical to think that the lasers are red-hot rather than white-hot?

This comment isn't quite pointless enough yet, so I'll throw in a, "wah! they should have used real units like celsius! wah!"

Re:"...lasers have been thought of as white-hot... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33665860)

So if Dr. Evil put these freakin' laser beams on shark, then the shark would eventually freeze in its own tank? That is good for Austin Powers!

This is nothing new. (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 4 years ago | (#33664136)

We now know that almost 40 years ago, UFO Space Aliens were shining beams of light into nuclear weapons storage areas to make them inoperable [aolnews.com] . Former USAF officers will be having a press conference on Friday, to prove it. So, big deal on the whole lasers-cooling-molecules thing.

Re:This is nothing new. (2, Funny)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#33665956)

Yeah, you hold your breath until that happens.

Wasn't that done before? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33664142)

Didn't scientists already cool molecules with a LASER? As far as I know, the frequency of the LASER-beam must be a little lower than the resonance-frequency of the atom/molecule so that by moving around through thermic energy the atom/molecule can absorb the beam with respect to doppler effect.

Who the hell... (5, Insightful)

ameline (771895) | more than 4 years ago | (#33664172)

Who the hell uses Fahrenheit for anything remotely connected to science? I can understand translating 0K to -273.15C, then 1K is -272.15C -- but how meaningful to anyone is -459.67F?

Re:Who the hell... (1)

MiniMike (234881) | more than 4 years ago | (#33664284)

It's in Medical Daily, not a scientific journal. To them, -459.67 is more meaningful as it is a larger (negative) number than -273.15. The following C, K or F is just confusing fluff. The article started with a James Bond reference; you can't expect a high degree of scientific accuracy or detail in such an article. It's likely the original researchers used K.

Re:Who the hell... (2, Insightful)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 4 years ago | (#33664470)

yes, and moreover, the fact that Bond was going to get cut in half and die was not the greatest source of anxiety in that scene, it was that the laser was headed for Bond's *junk* first

Re:Who the hell... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33665034)

And how can you define Sean Connerys massive balls "junk"?

Re:Who the hell... (1)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 4 years ago | (#33665854)

It's in Medical Daily, not a scientific journal........The following C, K or F is just confusing fluff.

So in this particular instance would it be accurate to say that the Medical Daily was fluffing Slashdot?

Re:Who the hell... (1, Informative)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 4 years ago | (#33664444)

Who the hell uses Fahrenheit for anything remotely connected to science?

I know, they should have totally used Rankine. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Who the hell... (1)

nacturation (646836) | more than 4 years ago | (#33664530)

Who the hell uses Fahrenheit for anything remotely connected to science? I can understand translating 0K to -273.15C, then 1K is -272.15C -- but how meaningful to anyone is -459.67F?

I think the intended audience for this article is Farmer Bill in Idaho. "Uh-huh, feels like a nippy -459.67F... guess I'd best cover up them there puhtaters."

Re:Who the hell... (1)

jmv (93421) | more than 4 years ago | (#33665228)

You mean I should stop telling people that the Plank constant is 6.28*10^-37 Btu*second?

Re:Who the hell... (2, Informative)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 4 years ago | (#33665292)

"Who the hell uses Fahrenheit for anything remotely connected to science?"

First and foremost, you write for your audience. If your intended audience typically uses degrees Fahrenheit, you use degrees Fahrenheit. That, or you triple the size of your article, with the bulk of it devoted to phrases like "triple point of water" that will make your audience's eyes glaze over.

Second, you're not going to do very well in a thermodynamics course in the United States (let alone get meaningful work afterward) if you can't handle degrees Rankine as well as kelvins. Much like writing for your audience, you work with the tools you have at hand, rather than insisting that someone rip out a perfectly good boiler simply because it wasn't built to SI specifications.

Finally, they already said "absolute zero," so you already have a perfectly valid thermodynamic temperature measurement. So long as they're using a US unit alongside it rather than instead of it, why do you care?

Re:Who the hell... (2, Insightful)

demonbug (309515) | more than 4 years ago | (#33665320)

Who the hell uses Fahrenheit for anything remotely connected to science? I can understand translating 0K to -273.15C, then 1K is -272.15C -- but how meaningful to anyone is -459.67F?

Yes, because -273.15C provides so much more information than -459.67F.
It really, really doesn't matter. Why do people even complain about things like this? Is it so hard to plug the number into a calculator to get it in units you are capable of comprehending?

If you are going to complain that Fahrenheit was used, then at least have the decency to request Kelvin (the proper SI unit) rather than Celsius.

Re:Who the hell... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#33666056)

It's frustration from not keeping to a global standard.

The US should really be metric by now. We can wank about superiority all day, but the bottom line is both do well for the trained person. Not having a standard cause issues, wastes money and so on.

We would be Metric by now if it wasn't for the bone head president, Reagan.

Re:Who the hell... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33665882)

Who the hell uses Fahrenheit for anything remotely connected to science?

Backward nations. Specifically, Burma, Liberia and the USA.

Laser cooling is not new... (4, Informative)

MiniMike (234881) | more than 4 years ago | (#33664174)

They may have a new method, but laser cooling [wikipedia.org] itself is not new. There was even a Nobel prize [nobelprize.org] awarded in 1997. It seems the advancement here is that they are using laser cooling on molecules (strontium monofluoride) instead of single atoms.

Re:Laser cooling is not new... (4, Interesting)

BeardedChimp (1416531) | more than 4 years ago | (#33665010)

I actually attended a guest lecture by him in 2002 at Queens University where pretty much the entire talk was about cooling things with lasers.

Amazing lecture actually, he shoved about 20 balloons into a small liquid nitrogen flask throughout slowly arousing curiosity. Then whipped them out, frisbying them over the heads of students. The balloons were flat but began to expand even in mid air. Damn that was cool.

Anyway, at the time he explained that the current limit on their approach was being on earth. Essentially they trap the atoms inside a magnetic field and slowly uses momentum transfer from the photons to the atoms to cool them. Then once they have reached the limit of that approach they would expand the magnetic field so that the atoms now filled a larger space and tada you have traditional cooling.

The limit at this point was that they were unable to expand the magnetic field any further without losing its stability. To get round this he said the future aim was to do it in space and expand the field massively.
That was 2002, no idea where they have gotten with that technology now.

Well, that's clueless for you (4, Informative)

Angst Badger (8636) | more than 4 years ago | (#33664178)

lasers have been thought of as white-hot beams of intensely focused energy

If there is anything that lasers are not, it's white.

Re:Well, that's clueless for you (4, Insightful)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#33664572)

If there is anything that lasers are not, it's white.

Yes, Lasers are white - in the QCD sense (photons don't carry color charge) :-)

Re:Well, that's clueless for you (2, Informative)

toppavak (943659) | more than 4 years ago | (#33664632)

Depends on the laser [wikipedia.org] . Many are commercially available [fianium.com] as fiber-lasers emitting ultra-broadband (read:white) light.

Re:Well, that's clueless for you (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#33664776)

And the light isn't generated via black body radiation [wikipedia.org] either, I believe, which is what white-hot refers to. And why would anyone on Slashdot think of them as hot things that cut through stuff, given that we've all played with laser pointers and are familar with optical drives?

Also, what's with the summary written like it was for the average person rather than a Slashdot reader? "temperatures near what's known as absolute zero"

Fahrenheit? Really? (2, Funny)

dcmoebius (1527443) | more than 4 years ago | (#33664180)

Come on. Just say 0 K.

Acknowledging the appropriate SI units only stings for a little while.

Re:Fahrenheit? Really? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33664596)

Zero thousand? What the hell is that?

Re:Fahrenheit? Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33665210)

What really torques me off is when the temperature somewhere is -40. Is that Fahrenheit or Celsius?

Re:Fahrenheit? Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33665478)

Yes [google.ca]
:)
-AC

Re:Fahrenheit? Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33666322)

*gasp* You really helped us there, Captain Obvious.

Re:Fahrenheit? Really? (3, Funny)

mandark1967 (630856) | more than 4 years ago | (#33665306)

OK.

"...what's known as absolute zero," (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#33664200)

What's wrong with just plain "absolute zero"? What's the point in adding "What's known as"? Why do science writers use this silly phrase?

Re: "...what's known as absolute zero," (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33664392)

"What's wrong with just plain "absolute zero"? What's the point in adding "What's known as"? Why do science writers use this silly phrase?"

Because most of the population doesn't know enough about the topic to understand, and neither do the journalists writing about it. You can watch the average person's eyes glaze over if you use technical terms.

Slashdot is comprised of people with a *far* above average grasp of such things.

Re: "...what's known as absolute zero," (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 4 years ago | (#33664480)

Because most of the population doesn't know enough about the topic to understand

Yes, but this is slashdot. We DO know what absolute zero is. This story doesn't belong in here, it belongs in digg or reddit. No wonder the submitter is an anonymous reader.

Re: "...what's known as absolute zero," (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#33664608)

Because most of the population doesn't know enough about the topic to understand

Yes, but this is slashdot. We DO know what absolute zero is. This story doesn't belong in here, it belongs in digg or reddit. No wonder the submitter is an anonymous reader.

Yes, but this is Slashdot. Summaries are not written by the submitter, they are copy/pasted from the linked article.

Re: "...what's known as absolute zero," (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#33664492)

Why do science writers use this silly phrase?

Science writers generally do not use phrases like this when they are targeting a scientific audience. If this were to appear in the Journal "Science", or even in "New Scientist", I'd expect a simple statement of "absolute zero" and if you don't know what it means, by all means go look it up.

However, "Medical Daily" sounds like it's targeted at an audience that might not be expected to know what "absolute zero" means, so it's appropriate to put at least a token explanation, and since it's an American non-scientific publication they'd generally put the temperature in Fahrenheit, not Celsius (which most of their audience would not use) or Kelvin (which many of their audience probably hasn't even heard of).

Re: "...what's known as absolute zero," (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#33664664)

However, "Medical Daily" sounds like it's targeted at an audience that might not be expected to know what "absolute zero" means, so it's appropriate to put at least a token explanation

"What's known as" is not an explanation. It's utterly pointless.

Re: "...what's known as absolute zero," (1)

Grygus (1143095) | more than 4 years ago | (#33665326)

Maybe it's a clue that it's a technical term, and not simply "exactly 0 degrees". Since the obvious inference is discouraged maybe someone will look up the phrase. I have a hard time imagining that many people who would care enough to look it up don't already know, but I might still argue that it's only mostly pointless.

Re: "...what's known as absolute zero," (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#33666108)

Because in science, any fact can be overturned by evidence. Granted, in this case it would take over whelimg evidence.

Science just shows us a bunch of stuff we can't find a way to falsify. That was a pretty extreme example, so please don't use that sentence to 'prove' some bonehead idea.

1. convoluted story summary (0)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#33664224)

2. old news

uggh

Re:1. convoluted story summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33664744)

3: useless post complaining about it

Been done before (2, Interesting)

Arellias (1122023) | more than 4 years ago | (#33664228)

There is a PBS special called Absolute Zero that shows this. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/zero/atoms.html [pbs.org] This is about the only way to create a Bose-Einstein condensate

Re:Been done before (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#33664726)

Yes, it's been done with atoms. DeMille and his team are attempting to do it at the molecular level, not the atomic level.

Mr. Freeze (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33664248)

What, no Mr. Freeze comments yet? Ice to see you!

It would never have worked (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 4 years ago | (#33664274)

"Ever since audiences heard Goldfinger utter the famous line, "No, Mr. Bond; I expect you to die," as a laser beam inched its way toward James Bond and threatened to cut him in half,

It's obvious that this was doomed to failure from the very beginning. They forgot about the shark.

Isn't Heat Related To Both Velocity and Vibration? (2, Interesting)

nato10 (600871) | more than 4 years ago | (#33664304)

If memory serves, the heat of a group of atoms is based both on their kinetic energy and vibrational energy. In gasses and, to a lesser extent, liquids, the average velocities of atoms is one factor determining factor of how much heat is in the gas or liquid, but so is the vibrational energy of the atom (otherwise solids wouldn't be capable of getting hot, which they clearly can).

So while these scientists have demonstrated being able to reduce the kinetic energy of an atom to zero, the article says nothing about being able to do so for its vibrational energy. It seems very possible that hitting an atom with lasers may be able to reduce its kinetic energy but may, depending on the frequency of light used, actually increase its vibrational energy.

So, this approach may work fine for gasses, in which certain atoms can be made motionless and, as long as you keep other atoms from interacting with them, they never pass on their vibrational energy, and thus can be seen as being very cold. But it's hard to see how such an approach has much merit for atoms in liquids or solids.

new cooling technology! (1)

Coraon (1080675) | more than 4 years ago | (#33664320)

I want a laser cooled PC, water cooling can leak, air cooling is inefficient, I can't wait till this gets used in similar products

Re:new cooling technology! (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#33666128)

Me to. I also want laser you shoot at a fire to extinguish it.

Cohen-Tannoudji (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33664502)

Didn't Cohen-Tannoudji do this, like, a long time ago? Didn't he already get the nobel prize for it? I mean, the concept isn't like it is super-new stuff.

Re:Cohen-Tannoudji (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#33664658)

Cohen-Tannoudji did it with atoms. The problem is that atoms are too small to be useful, and "artificial atoms" are too large and subject to interference. DeMille and his team are trying to figure out how to manipulate molecules, which would be large enough to be useful yet small enough to be subject to less interference.

Cohen-Tannoudji certainly laid a lot of the groundwork by developing the technique on atoms, and it's probably true that DeMille and his team are "standing on the shoulders of giants" with this attempt, but they are trying to take the original work and expand on it to make it more useful.

Duh (1, Insightful)

space_jake (687452) | more than 4 years ago | (#33664580)

I always thought lasers were cool.

Do you expect me to talk? (4, Funny)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 4 years ago | (#33664606)

No, Mr. Bond; I expect you to yell like a little girl while I am freezing your balls!

Okay, I'll bite. (0)

deadhammer (576762) | more than 4 years ago | (#33664688)

They should be using the lasers to freeze sharks so that we can have frozen sharks with frikken freezing lasers on their heads.

In Soviet Russia.

In Soviet Russia, shark laser freezes you!

Re:Okay, I'll bite. (1)

SleazyRidr (1563649) | more than 4 years ago | (#33664902)

I do like the fact that a shark is the icon for this story.

Bit cooling.... (1)

ELCouz (1338259) | more than 4 years ago | (#33664722)

...Now i can really cool my bit to increase my download speed but not too much... the stream of bit will freeze :)

Lasers that "Cool" (0, Flamebait)

jkiller (1030766) | more than 4 years ago | (#33664792)

Now if only the scientists would use lasers to cool all the /. readers. Goddamn bunch o' nerds if you ask me.

obxkcd (0)

Entropius (188861) | more than 4 years ago | (#33665116)

I thought the line "No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!" was related to coordinate substitution in a rotating frame, not lasers.

Re:obxkcd (0)

UninformedCoward (1738488) | more than 4 years ago | (#33666332)

http://xkcd.com/123/ [xkcd.com]

For those who do not memorize xkcd, here is the reference.

Question I would love answered (1)

DigitalReverend (901909) | more than 4 years ago | (#33665192)

Can an atom be split using extereme cold? If you stop all the motion of an atom due to absolute zero does it fall apart? Is absolute zero a cessation of motion on a molecular level or an atomic level?

1997 called (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 4 years ago | (#33665208)

It wants its Nobel Prize back.

Seriously, laser cooling has been around for decades. Want a more interesting article? How about something about a laser which really is a beam of intensely-focused energy capable of burning through anything in its path? Especially if it runs on house current

Re:1997 called (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#33666138)

Cars have been around for decades, but is someone improves upon it it gets news.

ridiculous summary (4, Informative)

jmizrahi (1409493) | more than 4 years ago | (#33665246)

This is a particularly bad science article. First of all, this research is interesting because they are laser cooling molecules. The article makes it sound like the new thing here is using lasers to cool. Laser cooling of atoms has been around for decades, but laser cooling of molecules is considerably more difficult because molecules have far more resonant transitions than do atoms (this is due to the additional rotational and vibrational degrees of freedom.) Traditional Doppler laser cooling relies on cycling transitions, in which the atoms go back and forth between two levels, losing momentum as they cycle. If the particles can "escape" to other levels, the cycle breaks and cooling stops. Traditionally, in atoms this problem is solved by having other lasers on the table which "plug up" these holes by repumping the atoms back into the cooling cycle. With molecules, there has historically been far too many holes to simply plug them with other lasers.

Second, Fahrenheit? Seriously? Nano/Micro/MilliKelvin is the appropriate unit.

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