Really Cold Atoms CAMBRIDGE, MASS. - Physicists in the U.S. say they have cooled sodium gas to the lowest temperature ever recorded – half-a-billionth of a degree above absolute zero. The researchers say the milestone beats the previous record by a factor of six, and marks the first time a gas was cooled below one nanokelvin, or a billionth of a degree. One of the researchers is a Nobel laureate At absolute zero, -273 degrees C, atomic motion stops as the cooling zaps all the energy from the particles. "To go below one nanokelvin is a little like running a mile under four minutes for the first time," said Nobel laureate Wolfgang Ketterle, co-leader of the physics team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Ultra-low temperature gases could lead to more precise measurements by atomic clocks and sensors for gravity and rotation , according to David Pritchard, an atom optics expert at MIT and co-leader of the team. Atoms normally move at the speed of a jet airplane at room temperature. At the new
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This note was uploaded on 10/24/2009 for the course CHEM 260 taught by Professor Staff during the Spring '08 term at University of Michigan.