Stone Cold Science: Bose-Einstein Condensation and the Weird World of Physics a Millionth of a Degree above Absolute Zero

Lecture presented by: Prof Eric Cornell
Date: February 19, 2014
Location: CETYS University, Mexicali, Mexico

How does one reach the necessary record-low temperatures, and why does a scientist go to all the trouble to make a new and bizarre state of matter?

As atoms get colder and colder, they become more and more like waves, and less like particles. When a gas of atoms gets so cold that the “waviness” of one atom overlaps the waviness of another, the result is a sort of quantum mechanical identity crisis, a “condensation” predicted 85 years ago by Albert Einstein. Eric Cornell will discuss how one reaches the necessary record-low temperatures, and explain why one goes to all the trouble to make this bizarre state of matter.

Extraordinarily low temperatures have an appeal of their own, but the implications are much broader: the domain of quantum mechanics is the physics not only the ultra-cold, but the ultra-small. For nanotechnology to reach its ultimate scientific and commercial potential, one must confront the Quantum in his lair. Low temperatures can be our ally as we enter that treacherous cave.

Eric A. Cornell is a Physicist with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). He is also Professor Adjoint in the Physics Department of the University of Colorado (CU), and Fellow of JILA, a joint institute of NIST and CU.

HISE 2014 - Mexicali