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Nobel Prize In Physics For Bose-Einstein Condensate

timothy posted about 13 years ago | from the get-to-meet-the-king dept.

Science 201

LMCBoy writes "The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced the 2001 Nobel Prize in Physics today. The award went to scientists who managed to construct a Bose-Einstein condensate from Rubidium and Sodium atoms. The process involves cooling the atoms to about 20 nanoKelvin. From the press release: 'A laser beam differs from the light from an ordinary light bulb in several ways. In the laser the light particles all have the same energy and oscillate together. To cause matter also to behave in this controlled way has long been a challenge for researchers. This year's Nobel Laureates have succeeded - they have caused atoms to "sing in unison" - thus discovering a new state of matter, the Bose-Einstein condensate.'" This is the same reasearch that Hemos recently posted about.

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Snoochie Boochies (-1)

Sunken Kursk (518450) | about 13 years ago | (#2407245)

Biznitch!

Re:Snoochie Boochies (-1)

cyborg_monkey (150790) | about 13 years ago | (#2407258)

That's the stuff!!!

YEEEEHHHHHAAAAAWWW!

Woohoo! (-1)

egg troll (515396) | about 13 years ago | (#2407262)

Excellent work keeping the FP away from those homo ACs.

Re:Snoochie Boochies (-1)

evil_spork (444038) | about 13 years ago | (#2407281)

Hm, can we claim this article in the name of trolls, too? I think we can! Long live trolls and crapflooders.

You damn Trolls! (-1)

l00ny_bstrd (218467) | about 13 years ago | (#2407328)

You're ruining Slashdot! This used to be my favorite website, but now it just sux because of all you damn Trolls and crapflooders.

I wish CmdrTaco would do something about it. Damn, that would be great, to see all you Trolls BURN IN HELL!! I lie awake at night dreaming about it. Then Slashdot could go back to being News for Nerds, Stuff that matters, along with the old style of actual intelligent comments!!

Did you ever think of that, Trolls?!? Huh, didja? Use your brains for crying out loud!!

Oh, that's right God didn't give you any!

*sheesh* Yes, I feel better now.

buy, now........

Re:You damn Trolls! (-1)

Fecal Troll Matter (445929) | about 13 years ago | (#2407474)

Hey, fuck you. Bitch.

Coming soon to a theatre near you (-1)

l00ny_bstrd (218467) | about 13 years ago | (#2407632)

The Matrix 4: Trolls Trolling Trolls

Neo: "Just how far does the rabbit hole go?"

Morpheus: "You must always remember: there is no honor among Trolls."

buy, now........

shut up nigger (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2407479)

WOO HOO! AC ruleZ! ARE j00 afraid of me??? f33r me j00 l1ttl3 bitchez! WHWEEEJHHUHJHE I AM THE STRAIGHTEST MAN ALIVE!!!!!

Re:shut up nigger (-1)

Fecal Troll Matter (445929) | about 13 years ago | (#2407490)

Fuck you, dirty AC.

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Re:Snoochie Boochies (-1)

Dead Fart Warrior (525970) | about 13 years ago | (#2407335)

"Snoochie Boochies? What the fsck is that? Its like sayin some shit like kids do. Fsck that shit."
-- Jay from Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back

That Timothy! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2407251)

He ought to take more credit! After all, he was the first [slashdot.org] to post a story on this topic. :-)

Hmm.. (0)

heyitsme (472683) | about 13 years ago | (#2407252)

Ok, so how does this help prevent my At[a]hlon from melting? Sure beats kryotech.

heyitsme

Don't tell me (-1)

Sunken Kursk (518450) | about 13 years ago | (#2407260)

I'm going to get both the first and second post!

Propz to all my troll bretheren!

You failed (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2407497)

Don't have mercy with the weak.

- Dead Nietzsche

Re:You failed (-1)

Sunken Kursk (518450) | about 13 years ago | (#2407607)

Don't whiz on the electric fence!

-Ren and Stimpy

Ahh yes, masers (1, Insightful)

ispq (301273) | about 13 years ago | (#2407268)

They did the research on this several years ago. Nice to see them getting official recoginition.

Re:Ahh yes, masers (1)

kiwimate (458274) | about 13 years ago | (#2407329)

That's usually the way it works. It takes several years for research to translate into Nobel recognition. I suspect it's partly -- even primarily -- because the committee wants to take sufficient time to ensure that the "discovery" isn't a dud (anyone remember cold fusion?).

I mean, one can't exactly renege on a Nobel prize, now, can one?

Re:Ahh yes, masers (1)

Jburkholder (28127) | about 13 years ago | (#2407459)

>one can't exactly renege on a Nobel prize, now, can one?

Why not? They stripped (npi) Vanessa Williams [delafont.com] of her Miss America crown. ;-)

These are not masers! (3, Informative)

Drakula (222725) | about 13 years ago | (#2407370)

A maser is Microwave Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation and have nothing to do with Bose-Einstein condensates. You are probably thinking of so called "matter lasers" which are related. The B-E condensate is only a component of that.

Particles that can all have the same EXACT state, in quantum mechanical terms, are called bosons. They fill and occupy available states in a certain way, described by a Bose distribution. An example of bosons are photons, or light, which can all be in the same state at the same time, hence making the maser and laser possible. Opposite to these are fermions, e.g. electrons, which cannot occupy the same state and are subject to Fermi-Dirac statistics.

What makes B-E condensates cool, no pun intended, is through cooling and laser pumping all the atoms can be made to be in the exact state. This allows all kinds of neat things to happen. Such as the "matter laser" or the actual slowing down and stopping of light (I'm to lazy to look up the link but check out Scientific American's website).

Pretty neat stuff.

Re:Ahh yes, masers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2407382)

What does this article have to do with microwave
lasers?

Masers have absolutely nothing to do with this (3, Informative)

coyote-san (38515) | about 13 years ago | (#2407435)

Masers were the predecessors to lasers, producing microwave wavelength radiation instead of visible light. And saying that the research was done years ago is putting it mildly - IIRC masers were largely developed in the 50's, gas lasers in the 60's. They have absolutely nothing to do with this recent research.

That said, it's possible that some reporter with absolutely no technical background abbreviated "matter laser" to "maser," but that would be a mistake since it causes immense confusion to anyone who remembers the original definition. If you meant "matter laser," then say so.

Okay... (2, Funny)

sirgoran (221190) | about 13 years ago | (#2407270)

So does this put us closer to getting transporters?

I know more than a few folks I'd want to reduce to simple energy.

Goran

Re:Okay... (1)

xzap (453197) | about 13 years ago | (#2407289)

Slashdot is 3 hours behind BBC. We need to do better slashdotters!

Re:Okay... (2)

Spankophile (78098) | about 13 years ago | (#2407317)

Even cooler (no pun intended) - does this get us any closer to phase-shift cloaking devices?

Re:Okay... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2407387)

No.

There is no such thing as 'Energy'. (2)

mindstrm (20013) | about 13 years ago | (#2407455)

That's what high school science doesn't explain properly. Energy is a mathematical property...

There's not really any such thing as 'pure energy'.

As I recall (3, Funny)

Water Paradox (231902) | about 13 years ago | (#2407283)

As I recall, I was able to create the Bose-Einstein condensate in my kitchen sink once. Man, all that hard work, and THESE guys get the Nobel for it... Well, better them than me, leaves me more time for programming...

Re:As I recall (1)

sporty (27564) | about 13 years ago | (#2407316)

It involved lots of mexican food and other 'gas-y' foods, eh?

Time to invest in Bose (3, Funny)

nizo (81281) | about 13 years ago | (#2407300)

Just imagine all the cool speakers they will be selling soon, with nobel prize winning scientists working for them!

New state of matter? (4, Funny)

kypper (446750) | about 13 years ago | (#2407302)

...thus discovering a new state of matter, the Bose-Einstein condensate.'


Jeez... now I have yet another state and a crapload of equations to memorize. What's the enthalpy? The spontaneity?


We need a short form name. Solid, liquid, gas and Bose-Einstein condensate really just... doesn't work out that well in the naming scheme.

Re:New state of matter? (2, Funny)

Beowulfto (169354) | about 13 years ago | (#2407344)

Solid, liquid, gas and Bose-Einstein condensate

You forgot plasma. Mmmm.... yummy plasma.

Re:New state of matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2407391)

how about bec? so it goes:

bec, solid, liquid, gas, plasma

Then of course, there's other forms of "condensed" matter, like loosely bound arrays of atoms suspended in the nodes of E.M. standing waves....

I'm confused... (-1, Troll)

Quasar1999 (520073) | about 13 years ago | (#2407307)

Hun? Someone want to explain to me how this is worthy of a nobel prize? I understand that it is neat... but how does it better our society? A cure for AIDS would be much more worthy, even if it isn't as technically challenging IMHO... Wasn't the prize supposed to be about the best scientific discovery that helps society???

Re:I'm confused... (1)

C. Mattix (32747) | about 13 years ago | (#2407336)

That would get the Nobel Prize for medicine. A cure for AIDS would have to be pretty odd to get the Physics nod.

Re:I'm confused... (1)

the_2nd_coming (444906) | about 13 years ago | (#2407339)

dude,there are diffrent prizes for difrent fields. peace, medicine, physics, chemistry, liturature, art, etc. any field that you can think of in science and in humanities gets a nobel prize.

Re:I'm confused... (0, Offtopic)

CaptIronfist (457257) | about 13 years ago | (#2407384)

Warning: Seriously off-topic.

You know why there is no nobel prize for the math field?

Re:I'm confused... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2407418)

isn't that cuz math and physics are so closely related nowadays?

Re:I'm confused... (1)

jonathan_ingram (30440) | about 13 years ago | (#2407448)

Nope. I forget the exact story, but it's something like: his wife had an affair with a mathematician.

The 'Fields Medals' are the maths equivalent of the Nobel Prize.

Re:I'm confused... (1)

CaptIronfist (457257) | about 13 years ago | (#2407494)

Right answer i think. That's the one i got from an old physicist.

Re:I'm confused... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2407523)

perhaps it is because discoveries in math, if they are any use to the real world are normaly discovered in the persuit of physics. most crap like Chaos theory and is not directly applicable to physical science and society. however, that could just mean that mathmatitions are making discoveries that predict things that physical science has not reached, I doubt it though :)

Re:I'm confused... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2407345)

if you read the article it states uses that will advance tons of fields (including medicine) , electronics, measuring devices etc...it is a small man who cannot see the application of theory.

Re:I'm confused... (1)

UberNex (525816) | about 13 years ago | (#2407353)

Well actually the guys working on AIDS get thier nobels through the Nobel Prize in medicine. Demonstrating BEC is definately worthy of being the physics prize, it was one of the great predictions of quantum theory, and it took around 70 years or so to actually demonstrate it. Big Props to Dr. Carl on this one.

Re:I'm confused... (1)

LMCBoy (185365) | about 13 years ago | (#2407355)

First of all, a cure for AIDS would be up for a Nobel Prize in medicine, not physics. As for the benefit to society of this work, the ramifications are hard to know at this point. BEC's are to atoms as lasers are to photons. When lasers were first discovered, they were "just" gee-whiz science. Now you have CD/DVD players, ultra-precise distance measurements (i.e., distance to the moon to +/- 1 inch), quick and painless eye surgery, etc.

One possible application I've heard about is quantum computing, which requires the mechanical control of atoms. BECs are one way to do that.

Re:I'm confused... (1)

AndyChrist (161262) | about 13 years ago | (#2407358)

A cure for AIDS would NOT be more worthy of a Nobel prize in *PHYSICS*, unless it involved the patient being used as a target in a particle accelerator or something.

And if it was so much less technically challenging, don't you think there would be one by now, considering how many more people have been working on it?

From Alfred Nobel's Will: (3, Informative)

SeanAhern (25764) | about 13 years ago | (#2407363)

I thought this was a good question, so I went and looked up Mr. Nobel's will. Here is the pertinent paragraph:
The whole of my remaining realizable estate shall be dealt with in the following way: the capital, invested in safe securities by my executors, shall constitute a fund, the interest on which shall be annually distributed in the form of prizes to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind. The said interest shall be divided into five equal parts, which shall be apportioned as follows: one part to the person who shall have made the most important discovery or invention within the field of physics; one part to the person who shall have made the most important chemical discovery or improvement; one part to the person who shall have made the most important discovery within the domain of physiology or medicine; one part to the person who shall have produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction; and one part to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses. The prizes for physics and chemistry shall be awarded by the Swedish Academy of Sciences; that for physiological or medical work by the Caroline Institute in Stockholm; that for literature by the Academy in Stockholm, and that for champions of peace by a committee of five persons to be elected by the Norwegian Storting. It is my express wish that in awarding the prizes no consideration whatever shall be given to the nationality of the candidates, but that the most worthy shall receive the prize, whether he be a Scandinavian or not.
IANAP (I Am Not A Physicist), so I can't comment on why a Bose-Einstein Condensate is a benefit to mankind. I'm sure some kind slashdotter can help here.

Re:From Alfred Nobel's Will: (1)

hanakj (164293) | about 13 years ago | (#2407441)

"The whole of my remaining realizable estate shall be dealt with in the following way: the capital, invested in safe securities by my executors,..."

I wonder just what exactly those "safe secutities" are?

Those "safe securities" (3, Informative)

matty (3385) | about 13 years ago | (#2407741)

From The Nobel Foundation [nobel.se] :

"On November 27, 1895, a year before his death, Alfred Nobel signed the famous will which would implement some of the goals to which he had devoted so much of his life. Nobel stipulated in his will that most of his estate, more than SEK 31 million (today approximately SEK 1,500 million) should be converted into a fund and invested in "safe securities."

The income from the investments was to be "distributed annually in the form of prizes to those who during the preceding year have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind."

The Nobel Foundation is a private institution established in 1900 on the basis of the will. The investment policy of the Foundation is naturally of paramount importance to the preservation and, if possible the augmentation of the funds and, thus, of the prize amount. According to the original 1901 investment rules, the term "safe securities" was, in the spirit of that time, interpreted to mean gilt-edged bonds or loans backed by such securities or backed by mortgages on real estate. With the changes brought about by the two World Wars and their economic and financial aftermath, the term "safe securities" had to be reinterpreted in the light of prevailing economic conditions and tendencies. Thus, at the request of the Foundation's Board of Directors, in the early 1950s the Swedish Government sanctioned changes, whereby the Board for all practical purposes was given a free hand to invest not only in real estate, bonds and secured loans, but also in most types of stocks.

From 1901, when the first prizes (SEK 150,000 each) were awarded, the prize amounts declined steadily. But with this freedom to invest, along with the long-fought-for tax-exemption granted in 1946, it was possible to reverse this trend and, on average, even keep pace with increasing inflation. The real value of the prize amount in SEK terms was finally restored in 1991. The amount of the 2001 Nobel Prize is SEK 10.0 million, an increase of around 11 per cent compared to the 2000 Prizes.

The investment capital at market value as per December 31, 2000, amounted to SEK 3,894 million (approx. USD 409 million). Foreign and Swedish assets accounted for 52 and 48 per cent, respectively."

link... [nobel.se]

There's also a table there breaking down the investments in more detail, but it was too big a PITA to get it to post correctly.

Re:From Alfred Nobel's Will: (2)

dragons_flight (515217) | about 13 years ago | (#2407493)

Nobel's will hasn't been followed to the letter almost since the creation of the prize. For one thing it says contribution in the last year, and it's commonly been awarded to research which is decades old. I'm not sure if they ever gave prizes to research that was just discovered. Also Nobel intended that the prizes go toward practical discoveries (hence no award for mathematics, which he considered too impractical).

As far as why BEC is potentially useful, there are a number of reasons. For one thing it allows the creation of "atom lasers" with the ability to etch and affect targets at much greater detail (and much greater expense). The also allow for creation of some ultra precise clocks and gravity measurement devices. From the research aspect, they provide a framework for studying macroscale quantum effects.

Let me be honest, you'll have to wait a long time, if ever, to see consumer applications, but they do a good deal of importance in a variety of specialized areas.

Re:I'm confused... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2407464)


Hun? Someone want to explain to me how this is worthy of a nobel prize? I understand that it is neat... but how does it better our society? A cure for AIDS would be much more worthy, even if it isn't as technically challenging IMHO... Wasn't the prize supposed to be about the best scientific discovery that helps society???


Because this is the Nobel Prize in Physics, not medical research.

Science, real science, does not always have an immediate application. But by discovering why things work the way they do and, maybe more importantly, sharing that information with the world others may be able to use those discoveries to move our world forward. Cures for diseases and cars that run a 100 miles on a drop of water will never be possible until we get a clearer understanding on how things work.

proves decades old theory (4, Interesting)

peter303 (12292) | about 13 years ago | (#2407578)

Bose-Einstein matter was predicted decades ago. But the experimental cleverness to reach absolute zero and this state was only reached a few years ago. The prize is for this cleverness.
Second, not all othe the phenomena of this state were predicted by the theory, so new things were learned.

High speed trolling. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2407600)

It's very easy to imprint little goatse images in a Bose-Einstein condensate.
Due to the quantum resonance and multidimensional flow coupling these images can be transported at super light speed.
The only problems are the rather small spatial scale of the transmission (about 1nm) and the large Tachyon flows induced by the super light speed.
These often cause space-time distortions which might even evole to little black or grey holes.
However, modern technology never comes without any risks, and these discoveries might start a new century of trolling.
(Note that B-E condensate resonace refractions can directly imbedded into brain waves.)

Congratulations! (4, Informative)

rbruels (253523) | about 13 years ago | (#2407309)


From the Physics department here at the University of Colorado, I consider myself lucky to work with folks like Dr. Weiman (one of the Nobel recipients) and others in the field, and congratulate all the Nobel winners for this year.

On that note, you can read all about Bose-Einstein Condensate and more at Physics 2000, our award-winning interactive journey through modern physics! The site is here:

http://www.colorado.edu/physics/2000

Our Bose-Einstein Condensate section is one of the most popular, check it out and learn more!

Ryan Bruels
Technical Consultant
Physics 2000
Center for Integrated Plasma Studies
University of Colorado, Boulder

Re:Congratulations! (1)

mjjareo (93394) | about 13 years ago | (#2407360)

Ass kisser!!! Sorry, couldn't resist.

Re:Congratulations! (1)

Belgand (14099) | about 13 years ago | (#2407477)

Yes, a friend of mine happened to work in the lab this summer. Sadly I didn't learn very much about the research itself although I have been told that the recipients "suck at basketball".

Re:Congratulations! (4, Funny)

Spy Hunter (317220) | about 13 years ago | (#2407502)

Wow! I think every scientific experiment should have cool minigames [colorado.edu] !

See the rest here [colorado.edu] !

not quite the same research (1)

LMCBoy (185365) | about 13 years ago | (#2407313)

The earlier /. article dealt with a variant that used the surface of a "chip" on which the condensate forms, making a "2-D" BEC. The earlier work that just earned the Nobel used lasers to supercool a gas of atoms.


Unfortunately, I don't know enough about this stuff to know if the difference is profound, or just semantic...

Is this research into superconductors? (1, Informative)

nharmon (97591) | about 13 years ago | (#2407324)

Matter that oscillates in unison would have near zero resistance, thus would probably the best superconductor yet. This truly is a giant leap in superconductor research (regardless of it's actual intentions).

Re:Is this research into superconductors? (0)

Methuseus (468642) | about 13 years ago | (#2407368)

If this is true (superconducting), then that means it's another unattainable superprocessor material for us to yearn for. I definitely applaud the researchers for proving Einstein's theory, but I just get so disappointed when I find out it's something that's relatively impossible (for now) to put in the consumer market. Does anyone agree that a Nobel prize may be better given to someone who finds a practical use for a technology than just making a new discovery?

Re:Is this research into superconductors? (2)

warlock (14079) | about 13 years ago | (#2407395)

"Does anyone agree that a Nobel prize may be better given to someone who finds a practical use for a technology than just making a new discovery?"

Hopefully not, for rather obvious reasons.

Re:Is this research into superconductors? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2407460)

Okay, this might not be useful NOW, but once people fully explore it, I guarantee they will find a use for something like this.

And don't say superconductors are useless and have no market. Ask anyone that does research on magnetics; they use superconducting magnets. Ask the medical field; those MRIs are just big superconducting magnets. There are several other examples. Now, it IS a problem that we can't get superconductors at room temperature. But considering the strides we've made so far in them (getting close to a conventional refrigeration unit), I wouldn't discount them yet.

Re:Is this research into superconductors? (0)

Methuseus (468642) | about 13 years ago | (#2407661)

Thank you for correcting me, but that is what I meant. I meant that there is no practical use for consumer level devices, as I don't see industrial-size machines as consumer-level.

Re:Is this research into superconductors? (2, Informative)

UberNex (525816) | about 13 years ago | (#2407369)

Unfortunately you couldn't use them as superconductors, as just about any amount of energy added to the system knocks the condensate out of its lowest energy (ground) state and "poof" no more BEC, just some cold gas.

Re:Is this research into superconductors? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2407388)

Yeah, but a superconductor is a superconductor; aside from the material properties (mostly ceramics, so brittle) resistance is still zero. Unfortunately, to get a BEC, you gotta be so damn cold that it prolly isn't worth the bother.

Re:Is this research into superconductors? (4, Informative)

Spy Hunter (317220) | about 13 years ago | (#2407417)

thus would probably the best superconductor yet

Huh? A superconductor by definition already conducts current perfectly. There's no "best" superconductor in that sense, they're all the same (perfect). What people are researching now is high-temperature superconductors, which this is most definitively not (at 20 millikelvin).

Re:Is this research into superconductors? (2)

Spy Hunter (317220) | about 13 years ago | (#2407445)

Uh, I mean nanokelvin. Sorry.

Now that's cool (1, Troll)

Winged Cat (101773) | about 13 years ago | (#2407337)

And I don't just mean what you can do with it. ;)

But what does it *do*? (1)

DahGhostfacedFiddlah (470393) | about 13 years ago | (#2407351)

Any ideas what products may result from this eventually, or is it currently just a "neat thing involving lasers"?

Re:But what does it *do*? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2407381)

Madam, what good is a baby?

Re:But what does it *do*? (1)

donabal (116308) | about 13 years ago | (#2407403)

this will be a powerful laser...

superfine precision, able to make fusion possible

perhaps drive-thru lasik surgery? =)

--donabal

Re:But what does it *do*? (4, Informative)

dragons_flight (515217) | about 13 years ago | (#2407531)

This Yahoo! News story [yahoo.com] about the Nobel prize includes discussion of potential applications.

I have no idea what they're talking about.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2407357)

...being the programmer I am.

But they better watch out before the religious zealots of the world insist we should outlaw these Bose-Einstein thingamajiggers because the scientists are 'playing god' with them. :)

"It's unnatural, I tell you! We'll end up with millions of rogue Bose-Einstein cumulonimbus thingamajiggers that want to overthrow humanity!"

Bose-Einstein is no good! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2407376)

You should really get Harmon-Kardon, Rockford-Fosgate, or even Cerwin-Vega! Anything but Bose-Einstein!

Clone Einstein (1, Troll)

Aurelfell (520560) | about 13 years ago | (#2407383)

We should make a clone of Einstein. All most every physicist in the last 50 years has used his work as a basis. If we made a few dozen more of him, think of the technology we could have in another fifty years.

Re:Clone Einstein (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2407603)

I bet someone already has..

Old Hardware... (2)

Eagle7 (111475) | about 13 years ago | (#2407386)

Check out the hardware [colorado.edu] that they apparently used for this. I assume its what they used to control the device.

I guess its just a reminder that sometimes slow and simple out weighs fast and new. It'd be interesting to know just what sort of hardware and software they used to create this. The article on the Colorado page give some details, saying that diode lasers were used and that the apparatus was simple and inexpensive. It's neat to think not all cutting edge physics needs super expensive and complicated devices like cyclotrons.

Re:Old Hardware... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2407492)

Actually, your microwave has a cyclotron in it :)

I've been doing research for a while, and I'm finding that the speed of the computer has NO effect on whether you can do good experiements. The only real limitation is if the computer can handle the data coming in; those supercolliders use big unix systems, just cuz the volume of data is too much for a slower system to handle.

On the other hand, a lab I worked in used a 386 to do their control and data acquisition. They'd still be using it if they didn't accidentally pump five amps into the A-D converter... (constant-current power supply, it gave 5A no matter how much voltage that took). IIRC, the only thing salvageable was the keyboard; it even fried the monitor. The thing was kewl, though. All the data acquisition software was written in-house in Qbasic. Anyone remember that language? :P

How to do it (5, Funny)

hardburn (141468) | about 13 years ago | (#2407390)

Rubidium and sodium have the intresting property that, when combined, they condense at around 35 kilojoules, very close to the famed Velhany constant.

However, it is also very difficult to find these two atoms in a pure form. The only good way to do it is to spin basic molecules containing these two elements through xeon gas within a 20 megagauss accellerator, of which there is only two in the world. Once you have them, it is very hard to keep them from combining with other elements again. You must immediatly cool them to around 3 Kelvin or you'll have to start all over again.

To actualy produce temperatures like 20 nano Kelvin, you can't use other materials (such as liquid nitrogen). The best way is to use two large magnets and a laser. If aligned properly, the magnets will actualy bend the laser around the atoms, producing a sort of barrier that will not allow energy in, but will allow it to escape. The magnets have the secondary effect of helping suck energy out of the material.

(Yes, I made all this up. I want to see how many people slashdotters flame me for all this BS when they haven't read this far down. Yes, I have karma to burn.)

Re:How to do it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2407436)

Wow, good job-- you got me fooled until the second reading!

~

Re:How to do it (2)

Eagle7 (111475) | about 13 years ago | (#2407443)

Someone mod this guy up - that's some of the best bullshit I've heard since the last Presidential election season.

Re:How to do it (1)

jonathan_ingram (30440) | about 13 years ago | (#2407467)

Yes, it gets really boring when you hit the Karma cap... the incentive to post quality reduces, and that to post crap increases.

(QED)

Re:How to do it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2407507)

dude, for BS-ing, yer not far off... Sodium and Rubidium are hard as hell to keep pure (most of the rest of that first paragraph was BS), but cooling things to 20nK IS done by lasers :)

Re:How to do it (1)

hardburn (141468) | about 13 years ago | (#2407548)

Yeah, well I figured that half the stuff in modern physics has something to do with lasers, so I thought I would catch a few more people if I added one in there somewhere :)

Re:How to do it (1)

LMCBoy (185365) | about 13 years ago | (#2407566)

Oddly enough, that part of it was spot-on. They do use "laser pumping" to get the gas down so obscenely close to absolute zero.

Re:How to do it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2407588)

...which I just find odd... I know how the theory works, but it just doesn't make sense that you can zap something and have it cool down... normally when you think of a laser zapping something, it WARMS UP! I understand that the laser is in sync with the molecular vibration, etc., but it still seems wierd. :P

I am SO surprised... (0)

Malic (15038) | about 13 years ago | (#2407413)

...that with all this high energy physics discussion going on lately that I don't see some Lexx jokes here somewhere!

News for Nerds? Um, Guys? You're letting me down! ^_^

yep! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2407415)

first post!

Yes, but... (0)

tinrobot (314936) | about 13 years ago | (#2407430)

I just invented the Cranberry Mango concentrate. What do I win?

Re:Yes, but... (-1)

Sunken Kursk (518450) | about 13 years ago | (#2407439)

A beautiful Armiore, Bob!

Grammar nitpick: (1, Insightful)

mblase (200735) | about 13 years ago | (#2407452)

This year's Nobel Laureates have succeeded

More like "had succeeded", really -- the condensate was achieved in 1995. Nobel prizes are usually bestowed several years after the achievement itself in order to give plenty of time for independent verification and to demonstrate relevance to the greater body of research and knowledge.

Re:Grammar nitpick: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2407529)

...part of the reason Planck didn't get his for 15 years; he was SO radical, nobody could really prove he was right for that long :)

Same thing happened to Einstein. He didn't get the prize for Relativity, cuz nobody understood it, but he did for the photoelectric effect (Nobel-worthy in and of itself). Of course, his second Prize was the Peace Prize, given after WW2 for his efforts to stop nuclear proliferation.

Re:Grammar nitpick: (1)

yesthatguy (69509) | about 13 years ago | (#2407581)

Their success hasn't stopped, so it is still more appropriate to use present perfect. Using the past perfect generally implies that the condition no longer exists, as in "Mark McGwire had been the home run record holder until Barry Bonds broke the record."

Most interesting property of BECs (5, Interesting)

Macrobat (318224) | about 13 years ago | (#2407480)

I thought the big deal about Bose-Einstein condensates was their indeterminate size. Since cooling matter down to nearly absolute zero halts motion, and since zero motion is a very measurable quantity, Heisenberg's uncertainty principle means that the actual location of the electrons becomes indeterminate, and therefore the size of the atomic shell grows bigger. Not sure what implications this fact has, though, but it's kinda neat. If anything ever were to be cooled to absolute zero, it would be of infinite size.

Re:Most interesting property of BECs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2407550)

That's an interesting conundrum... motion gets slower, Heisenberg gets bigger...

Problem is, as any thermodynamicist will tell you, as things cool off they will get MORE dense, until absolute zero where density is (supposedly) infinite.

So by thermodynamics and Heisenberg, you'd have something infinetly large, and infinetly dense! OW, MY BRAIN HURTS!!!

...they have caused atoms to "sing in unison" (4, Funny)

sharkey (16670) | about 13 years ago | (#2407501)

A-one, and a-two...

Cumbayah, My Lord, Cumbayah.
Cumbayah, My Lord, Cumbayah.
Oh, Lord, Cumbayah.

Someone's splitting, My Lord, Cumbayah.
Someone's splitting, My Lord, Cumbayah.
Oh, Lord, Cumbayah.

Someone's fusing, My Lord, Cumbayah.
Someone's fusing, My Lord, Cumbayah.
Oh, Lord, Cumbayah.

Timothy, the genius (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2407514)

What a laugh. I doubt Timmy has even a faint clue about this subject. If Timmy even passed high school algebra with a grade higher than a C minus I would be surprised. Heck, I'd be surprised if he passed high school algebra at all.

Mass of BECs? (1)

Kismet (13199) | about 13 years ago | (#2407551)

Does anyone know if a BEC maintains a mass consistent with the sum of its pieces, and how much comparative space it takes up?

Bozo matter (2)

peter303 (12292) | about 13 years ago | (#2407604)

It sounds like one of the theorists (B)
and it looks like other (E).
It behaves very strangely compared to other matter.

Use in microchips? (1)

Zo0ok (209803) | about 13 years ago | (#2407669)

I just heard on Swedish television that this could possibly be used in microchips in the future... at 20 nK I doubt it... Did the journalists find that out themselves, or has anyone else heard any more details?

Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2407702)

Now I can find something to cool my beer.

And at Salon... (1)

rkischuk (463111) | about 13 years ago | (#2407731)

Salon also has an article [salon.com] on the topic. It discusses the condensate in terms of a new "state of matter" (to go along with solid, liquid, gas, plasma?). It also mentions the most obvious applications are for precision measurement and nanotechnology.
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