NASA To Create Coldest Spot In Universe On The Space Station

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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Scientists aboard the International Space Station (ISS) plan to create the coldest spot in the universe.

NASA researchers will cool a box down to “absolute zero,” or -459.67 degrees Fahrenheit — the temperature at which atoms stop moving. It is physically impossible for it to get colder than absolute zero.

This cold will create a distinct state of matter known as a Bose-Einstein condensate on the ISS so that researchers can study how it behaves in free-fall. On Earth, the pull of gravity causes condensate to continually settle towards the ground, which makes it only observable for fractions of a second.

“Studying these hyper-cold atoms could reshape our understanding of matter and the fundamental nature of gravity,” Dr. Robert Thompson a Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientist involved in the project, said in a press statement. “The experiments we’ll do with the Cold Atom Lab [CAL] will give us insight into gravity and dark energy—some of the most pervasive forces in the universe.”

In this state of matter, conventional physics breaks down and quantum physics becomes the best way to observe rations. Matter can be observed behaving less like particles and more like waves. Researchers estimate that CAL will allow Bose-Einstein condensates to be observable for up 10 seconds.

Scientists expect these experiments could potentially help improve sensors, quantum computers and atomic clocks.

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