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202 comments

Thought of that once.... (0, Flamebait)

hcmtnbiker (925661) | about 7 years ago | (#18698199)

I actually thought of making a instant refrigerator like that once, like a microwave speed but a freezer. My goals where of course shot down when I did research into how the limitations(thing to work really have to me microscopic), as well as the Microsoft had already patented it. Go figure.

Re:Thought of that once.... (1, Funny)

LighterShadeOfBlack (1011407) | about 7 years ago | (#18698237)

My goals where of course shot down when I did research into how the limitations(thing to work really have to me microscopic)
Clearly not anymore. Your dreams can become reality! People do eat mirrors right?

Re:Thought of that once.... (4, Funny)

SnowZero (92219) | about 7 years ago | (#18698859)

I've heard that eating a mirror was bad luck.

Nothing came up on Snopes.com, so it must be true...

Other uses... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18698203)

Could they make a cheaper version of this system to build more efficient air-conditioners?

Re:Other uses... (2, Insightful)

Boogaroo (604901) | about 7 years ago | (#18698755)

Only if they can get lasers to stop burning 10x the amount of energy that you put in to get it to fire.
(I know that some are more efficient than others, but you all know there's no free lunch)

I'd be willing to bet that the massive amount of power required to cool all the air in your house would make you bankrupt in less than a year(and really piss off your power company).

Cue (0)

phalse phace (454635) | about 7 years ago | (#18698205)

"sharks with frickin' laser" posts...

Re:Cue (1)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | about 7 years ago | (#18698243)

hey, if the sharks can freeze you with their lasers now, that's bigger news than the daddy of Anna Nicole's baby lol *puts on his tinfoil hat to protect himself from the freeze lasers of death*

Re:Cue (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18698261)

Doesn't it just scream FREEZE RAY!

Obligatory Star Trek Refference (1, Redundant)

wolf369T (951405) | about 7 years ago | (#18698561)

"In a Mirror, Darkly..."

Now give some "+5 Funny" or "+5 Informal", 'cause my karma is bad.

Re:Obligatory Star Trek Refference (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18698797)

How about +5 STFU you wouldn't have bad karma if you didn't post stupid shit?

Re:Obligatory Star Trek Refference (0, Offtopic)

wolf369T (951405) | about 7 years ago | (#18698885)

At least I'm not an anonymous coward and I don't use the s-word like others do around here. So, I'm forced to ask you to stop judging me, m'kay?

This is cool stuff and all... (-1)

linguizic (806996) | about 7 years ago | (#18698207)

...but could someone explain what the significance of this is? Does this tell us anything interesting about the universe? Or is this just a "let's see if it can be done" kind of thing?

Re:This is cool stuff and all... (4, Funny)

camperdave (969942) | about 7 years ago | (#18698283)

could someone explain what the significance of this is?

Perhaps we could reflect on it.

Confirms quantum theory (4, Informative)

quokkapox (847798) | about 7 years ago | (#18698317)

It confirms our understanding of light and matter and how they interact. You would think that shining light (energy) on something would warm it up. If it cools it down, something strange is going on.

In a broader sense, it means that we can manipulate matter and energy in ways nobody imagined 100 years ago (well, except for Einstein).

Re:Confirms quantum theory (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18698435)

cause Einstein was such a quantum theorist.

Re:Confirms quantum theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18698475)

Indeed he was. Consider his work on the photoelectric effect, for example.

Re:Confirms quantum theory (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18698633)

It confirms our understanding of light and matter and how they interact. You would think that shining light (energy) on something would warm it up. If it cools it down, something strange is going on.
You must not be familiar with how waves interact. The light waves and the material's "atom waves" are interacting so that maximum destructive interference is achieved; same frequency but half a wavelength out of phase of each other. The resulting wave of the atoms in the material should then have close to zero energy because other waves in the system may add constructively interfere with the atom waves.

In my opinion, scientists may be able to approach absolute zero but they will never effectively reach it. They may hit a point at which it can be proclaimed as "good enough", but since the entire system must contain no energy and energy will always leak into the system from the universe, absolute zero will not be reached in actuality.

The benefits of moving closer to absolute zero are that we can better understand exactly what atoms do when macro-forces are canceled out and only micro-forces apply, how the building blocks relate to each other in an energy-less environment, and if any other "laws" apply to our universe that we just weren't able to witness otherwise.

Blessed are the Buckyballs (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18698845)

The problem here is that an incoherent mass has been
convinced that it is not only coherent energy, but 180deg out of phase
with a coherent light source (almost). Seems to me that QM
might even have a problem or two with this.

Re:Confirms quantum theory (4, Informative)

NightHwk1 (172799) | about 7 years ago | (#18698639)

It seems like it's the same effect as noise cancellation... firing pulses at the exact opposite frequency of the atom.

And about the mirror versus using an actual dime or something else--a perfectly smooth, very thin object probably makes atomic-level laser targeting much easier than a relatively rough object such as a coin.

Re:Confirms quantum theory (4, Informative)

tomatensaft (661701) | about 7 years ago | (#18698727)

There is no such thing as opposite frequency. There is a thing like counterphase, though. So, noise cancellation works by emitting noise of the same frequency, but in a counterphase.

Re:Confirms quantum theory (1)

Firrenzi (229219) | about 7 years ago | (#18698693)

If one can slow an object to near zero at the quantum and physical, how is it possible to then measure this state if we slow the rate below that of 1 quanta. In reference to Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, how are we able to view the state of the molecules (velocity and position) if the minimum energy source we can fire at them is at one quanta and they are below that? Wouldn't that suggest that there is a limit to the level that we observe these subatomic particles at (ie the speed excited by one quanta of energy)?

Any thoughts on this?

Re:Confirms quantum theory (1)

Anpheus (908711) | about 7 years ago | (#18698785)

Two reasons: One, the greater the mass, the more certain we can be of its velocity and position. Two, we're nowhere near that low of an energy.

Hmm, the "laser-induced" part must be significant (1)

PaulBu (473180) | about 7 years ago | (#18698351)

... otherwise I can go to the lab tomorrow and drop a whopping *palm-sized* mirrow in a dewar of liquid He to get within a factor of 4 to their achievement! And then. if keep being nice to other guys around, I can sneak a dime-sized object to cool to, like, some mK... :)

Paul B.

Here's the sginificance. (5, Funny)

deft (253558) | about 7 years ago | (#18698381)

The real world application of this will be truly shown when they find the exact frequency on beer.

Then, gaze upon its brilliance.

Re:This is cool stuff and all... (1, Informative)

norton_I (64015) | about 7 years ago | (#18698397)

Thermal motion of mirrors are a limiting factor in high precision experiments. This allows those fluctuations to be reduced, allowing cool physics.

Re:This is cool stuff and all... (1)

staeiou (839695) | about 7 years ago | (#18698771)

...but could someone explain what the significance of this is?

I know I'm new here because I'm reading the articles, but the opening and closing paragraphs of the article directly answers your question:

If you want to really see quantum mechanics in action, you've got to turn the temperature down so low that even atoms stop moving. Physicists have come close to achieving this "absolute zero" state by using precision-tuned lasers, but the technique has only allowed researchers to freeze small groups of atoms at a time. Now members of an international team say they have managed to cool a dime-sized mirror to within one degree of absolute zero, the lowest laser-induced freeze yet achieved with a visible object. [...] If the effort is successful, Mavalvala says, it will also lead to much more sensitive instruments for LIGO, which is attempting to detect elusive phenomena called gravity waves. Predicted by Einstein but not yet observed, the waves are thought to be emitted by the most violent events in the universe, such as black hole collisions.

Re:This is cool stuff and all... (5, Interesting)

YGingras (605709) | about 7 years ago | (#18698775)

It has many applications in astronomy. During the winter, the only expedition to climb to the top of the Mauna Kea are to fill the liquid nitrogen and liquid helium tanks of those huge telescopes. We don't realize it but getting pretty picture in IR requires that you more of less shut down the black body radiation of your optics. With liquid helium they cool the CCDs to 4.5 Kelvin. They use so much of the stuff that they need to fill the tanks every other week. I admit that I have no idea how big is the said tank but laser cooling would open the way to mostly unattended (think orbital) telescopes for a much broader part of the spectrum. At the moment we send IR orbital scopes with big tanks of liquid helium which is dead lift weight that could be used for larger optics and we drop the scopes in the ocean when they run out of the stuff. Spitzer, unlike Hubble, will be useless soon and will not be able to perform observations even if all the mechanical and electronics are still in top condition. If you ever visit the Mauna Kea, notice the frost patches inside the observatory. It's kind of cold up there but the best experience is inside the observatory: it's freezing, everyone is dizzy after climbing the stair (the air is really thin) and you see all those big pipes with cryo-steam. It feels like the visit to the cryo chamber in Akira.

a mirror for The Fonze (1)

Blue Shifted (1078715) | about 7 years ago | (#18698219)

Happy Days!

i'm still waiting for someone to chill something to absolute zero, and it disapears....

Re:a mirror for The Fonze (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18698457)

And as long as it still has an energy diffusion velocity after that, you get antimatter!

As for me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18698225)

I was nearly first post!

But... (0)

jcr (53032) | about 7 years ago | (#18698231)

A mirror that cold would totally fog up, eh? So you couldn't use it for shaving.

-jcr

Mirror (5, Interesting)

biocute (936687) | about 7 years ago | (#18698253)

What's the significance of chilling a dime-sized mirror, vs chilling a dime?

I imagine that (5, Informative)

pavon (30274) | about 7 years ago | (#18698295)

the surface has to be highly reflective for this to work. If it absorbed the photons, then it's temperature would increase, and if it was transparent the photons wouldn't interact with the material very much, and thus would not be able to cool it.

Re:I imagine that (1)

weighn (578357) | about 7 years ago | (#18698787)

IANAP, but I'd guess that a super-flat surface is needed so they can have a precise measurement of the distance between the laser and the object being zapped. That way they can time the laser freq with the atomic vibrations. There's just too many mountainous bumps on a dime.

Re:I imagine that (1)

gardyloo (512791) | about 7 years ago | (#18698843)

The beauty of laser-cooling is that surface roughness (on a moderate scale; the face of a dime is pretty rough, but a "smooth" piece of metal probably wouldn't affect things too much) isn't a problem. Nor are small motions in the direction of the laser axis. In fact, it's the doppler effect of the motions to and fro in the laser beam axis that *helps* laser cooling work. It's nice to have atomic transitions near the laser's frequency, but it's not especially necessary. And I kind of doubt that phonons present in the mirror at any kind of low temperature are at frequencies anything close to a typical laser frequency. This is all speculation on my part, of course.

Re:I imagine that (0)

shaitand (626655) | about 7 years ago | (#18698905)

Then why use a mirror? Mirrors absorb light, there are much better materials if you are hoping to reflect electrons.

Re:Mirror (1)

creimer (824291) | about 7 years ago | (#18698319)

You get 13 years if you crack a dime-sized mirror or a criminal offense if you crack a dime. Since most research these days are funded by the government, cracking a mirror is the safest course of action even though you're at risk of skewing the research data for years on end.

Re:Mirror (1)

ZombieRoboNinja (905329) | about 7 years ago | (#18698627)

Well, when they get the mirror close enough to absolute zero, apparently it will "show its quantum behavior for the first time," which I assume means it will reflect THE FUTURE.

Re:Mirror (1)

MoralHazard (447833) | about 7 years ago | (#18698681)

What's the significance of chilling a dime-sized mirror, vs chilling a dime?

No idea, but the significance of chilling WITH a dime is that I'm high as hell on some stinky, stinky weed.

JK, Mom.

Re:Mirror (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18698735)

What's the significance of chilling a dime-sized mirror, vs chilling a dime?

Cold, hard cash

Hillery Clinton (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18698269)

Hillery Clinton has achieved this feat already. Next...

Bad luck (1)

brer_rabbit (195413) | about 7 years ago | (#18698281)

This should answer the age old question, if a mirror at absolute zero breaks, do you have bad luck?

Re:Bad luck (1)

Overkill Nbuta (1035654) | about 7 years ago | (#18698305)

No because Absolute Zero * 7 Years bad luck = 0. Anything multiplied by 0 is 0!

Re:Bad luck (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18698331)

Isn't 0! equal to 1?

Re:Bad luck (1)

pyite (140350) | about 7 years ago | (#18698399)

Anything multiplied by 0 is 0!

So n * 0 = 1?

Just kidding, playing on the fact that 0! = 1.

Re:Bad luck (1)

robgig1088 (1043362) | about 7 years ago | (#18698437)

o_____o I totally did not know that.... How does 0! = 1....

So.... (1)

Karsaroth (1064806) | about 7 years ago | (#18698325)

What do they expect that the mirror will do once it is only subject to quantum effects? Will it explode? That would be cool.

Re:So.... (2, Informative)

zazelite (870533) | about 7 years ago | (#18698513)

Well, it does say in the article that a major goal is the detection of so-called gravity waves. As far as I know, there's no irrefutable evidence that gravity doesn't propagate faster than lightspeed - that, in fact, it's speed might very well be unbounded. I can bet you that once we have a gravity wave emitter that the next step will be a coherent gravity wave emitter i.e. a gravitational laser.

So you've met my ex, then? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18698355)

> "Physicists have managed to cool a dime-sized mirror to within one degree of absolute zero. This is the lowest laser-induced freeze yet achieved with a visible object. Laser cooling involves firing pulses of light at a specific frequency that exactly matches an atom's motions."

So you've met my ex, then?

Cool (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18698369)

A mirror you will always look cool in

I thought this was a breakthrough (5, Informative)

Barkmullz (594479) | about 7 years ago | (#18698377)

IANAP, so I figured this was some sort of breakthrough. As it turns out:

1. Others have gotten much, much closer to 0 K using atoms and laser cooling.
2. Others have gotten much, much closer to 0 K using solid objects and different cooling methods.
3. Their method has the potential of getting closer to 0 K.

So, even if it is not a breakthrough it is still impressive.

Re:I thought this was a breakthrough (4, Informative)

btgreat (895041) | about 7 years ago | (#18698725)

Actually, this really is a breakthrough. According to the article, laser supercooling has been used in the past by researchers, but never on anything more than a few atoms. These researchers successfully lasercooled a mirror the size of a dime (which would probably be about .01 to .1 moles, on the order of 10^21 or 10^22 atoms, more than just "a few" (probably meaning on the order of 10^6 or so, but IANAP, so don't quote me there)).

but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18698385)

is that one degree fahrenheit or one degree celsius?

Re:but (1)

compro01 (777531) | about 7 years ago | (#18698433)

Celsius.

Re:but (2, Insightful)

Beefslaya (832030) | about 7 years ago | (#18698567)

Actually, I thought it was measured in Kelvin?

Re:but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18698637)

the baseline changes, the interval doesn't. a degree of kelvin is a degree of celsius.

Re:but (1)

Darth (29071) | about 7 years ago | (#18698643)

absolute zero is zero degrees kelvin. the article notes that that is -273 degrees celcius.
(which i guess is why the gp assumed celcius)

i expect the scientists are measuring it in kelvin

Re:but (1)

fabs64 (657132) | about 7 years ago | (#18698661)

The unit size for Kelvin and Celsius is the same, it's only the zero-point that moves.

Re:but (1)

Darth (29071) | about 7 years ago | (#18698723)

true

i meant that the scientists are probably using the kelvin scale for notation. i didn't intend to imply the units were different sizes.
i'm posting from the web browser in a ps3. typing with a controller is very distracting.
i'll go upstairs and use a keyboard from now on.

Re:but (1)

Phil246 (803464) | about 7 years ago | (#18698645)

iirc, the kelvin scale is identical in steps to that of celcius, the only difference is the starting zero point.
With kelvin it is at absolute zero, the point where atoms stop vibrating. With celcius it is at the freezing point of water

That's nothing (5, Funny)

edwardpickman (965122) | about 7 years ago | (#18698465)

My exwife could do that with just a glance. It may not have been one degree over Absolute Zero but it sure felt that way.

Re:That's nothing (1)

AmigaHeretic (991368) | about 7 years ago | (#18698579)

>>My exwife could do that with just a glance.

Funny that you bring up exwives...
I was just wondering what kind of thermometer they use to tell that the temperature is at -273 degrees celcius. Oral or Rectal? My ex is fairly frigid so if it's the later maybe she could help make it reach zero.

Which begs the the next question, would it have a zero on it? Because really, if it reached zero it would just dissapear and you wouldn't see it really ever reach zero. Hmm...

Within a degree? (1)

The Orange Mage (1057436) | about 7 years ago | (#18698651)

So for visible objects, there are non more cold? And it's not going to absolute zero. It's going to absolute one. It's one higher.

When you get a mirror cool enough... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18698657)

...everyone looks like The Fonz.

Aaaaay.

Beer Cooler (1)

truckaxle (883149) | about 7 years ago | (#18698671)

Now we would all be a lot more impressed if they cooled a glass of Guinness down to the requisite 5 degrees Celsius.

A functional laser operated beer cooler... now that would be a patent i wouldn't complain about.

Re:Beer Cooler (1)

weighn (578357) | about 7 years ago | (#18698849)

...requisite 5 degrees Celsius...

although the "serve at room temperature" thing is a bit of a myth for Irish/British beers, the best temp for pouring a Guinness [beertravelers.com] is around 7-8 degrees. Sounds like I'm nit-picking, but there is a difference for us piss-heads^H^H^H connoisseurs.

Conservation of Energy... (2, Interesting)

btgreat (895041) | about 7 years ago | (#18698765)

A couple of people made posts that got my brain ticking.. Someone mentioned that this confirms quantum theory in that adding light energy reduces the temperature, thereby reducing the energy of the system. In response, someone mentioned it was like noise cancellation. The problem I see with this analogy, and the idea of the experiment in general is that while I can see similarities, when we talk about noise cancellation, no energy is lost. It is still there, even though destructive interference cancels the noise where the waves overlap. The sound waves will continue to travel, and if they leave the area where they are destructively influenced, the noise will start back up. With the photons reducing temperature situation, where is the energy going? We start with high speed atoms and light, and end with low speed atoms and no light; isn't the energy being destroyed? I am not very up on my quantum mechanics, but can see two possibilities: either energy isn't really conserved under quantum mechanics, or the atom is rereleasing a photon after the initial photon hits it and slows it down. Perhaps neither is right, but could someone please explain the apparent lack of conservation of energy here?

Re:Conservation of Energy... (3, Interesting)

smaddox (928261) | about 7 years ago | (#18698871)

We start with high speed atoms and light, and end with low speed atoms and no light; isn't the energy being destroyed?
You actually DO end up with light. More energetic light, to be more specific.

It can almost be simplified to classical collision physics. The photon hits the atom and bounces off, slowing down the atom and in turn, the photon "speeds up" (gets red shifted).

Ah, a balmy 0.8K (1)

xPsi (851544) | about 7 years ago | (#18698883)

Using LASER cooling to bring a macroscopic object o 0.8K is pretty darn neat. But cooling big things in general to sub-Kelvin temperatures is not that unusual (the article only gives a nod to this idea). For example, in our bolometry experiment [mib.infn.it] , we cool 40 kg of TeO2 crystals down to just 10 milliKelvin using an ancient Oxford (brand) dilution refrigerator.
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