NASA plan to create the coldest spot in the entire universe within the fridge
The temperatures will drop so low that the US space agency boffins could technically break the existing laws of physics and create perpetual motion.
The NASA plan is to send a mini laboratory – the size of a domestic chest freezer – up to the International Space Station. The unit will then freeze atoms to only one billionth of a degree above absolute zero — more than 100 million times colder than the far reaches of deep space.
The hope is to slow down the atoms until the electrons are almost motionless to create a new form of matter – a ‘super-fluid’ known as a Bose-Einstein condensate.
The fluid has zero viscosity and the atoms move without friction as if they were all one, solid substance. Given the right conditions the fluid would remain in motion forever.
Anita Sengupta Cold Atom Lab project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory said: "If you had superfluid water and spun it around in a glass, it would spin forever.
"There's no viscosity to slow it down and dissipate the kinetic energy.”
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If the mission is successful the scientists will effectively be breaking known laws of physics
Back on earth conditions are very different but the scientists hope to apply the findings to making machines super-efficient.
We are still blind to 95 percent of the universe
Scientist Robert Thompson
Ms Sengupts said: “If we can better understand the physics of superfluids, we can possibly learn to use those for more efficient transfer of energy.”
At the extreme temperatures in the Cold Atom Lab the familiar world of classical physics gives way to the weird quantum world.
Matter stops behaving like particles and starts behaving like light waves.
The freezer will be able to cool atoms to one billionth of a degree above absolute zero
And the experiment may have a much more far-reaching impact on the nature of the universe and existence itself.
Project Scientist Robert Thompson of the JPL said: “Studying these hyper-cold atoms could reshape our understanding of matter and the fundamental nature of gravity.
"The experiments we'll do with the Cold Atom Lab will give us insight into gravity and dark energy, some of the most pervasive forces in the universe."
Humans are still blind to 95 per cent of the universe
The Cold Atom Laboratory was developed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
It will blast off for space on August 12 on SpaceX CRS-12 from Cape Canaveral.
CAL Project Scientist Robert Thompson said:“Even with all of our current technologies, we are still blind to 95 percent of the universe.
"Like a new lens in Galileo's first telescope, the ultra-sensitive cold atoms in the Cold Atom Lab have the potential to unlock many mysteries beyond the frontiers of known physics."