NASA will launch a cold atomic laboratory | to detect unobservable quantum phenomena on Earth

According to foreign media reports, on the 20th of this month, NASA will launch the Cold Atomic Laboratory to the International Space Station. After taking off, researchers will use it to detect quantum phenomena that cannot be observed on Earth, such as space. Create 'bubbles' and 'vortex' etc.

It is understood that the cold atomic laboratory is under the charge of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which costs US$83 million and its main task is to create a unique “Bose-Einstein Condensate (BEC)”. The superfluid' material state allows scientists to study quantum mechanics at the macroscopic scale.

The BEC is a cloud of hundreds of thousands of atoms. When it is cooled to absolute zero, hundreds of thousands of atoms will be able to keep synchronized, just like a single quantum object.

However, it should be noted that because of gravity on Earth, the BEC will fall apart in a matter of seconds, while the gravityless space environment may allow it to 'hold' at least 10 seconds of life.

During this time, the BEC may be cooled to the cold of Genesis, perhaps only 20 trillionths of a degree Celsius above absolute zero. In response, the task project manager, Camer Audrey of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory stated that This may be the coldest known temperature in the universe.

In the International Space Station, engineers compress equipment that could have occupied a room in a refrigerator-sized box and use lasers to cool the cesium and potassium atoms and stop them from moving. Then, they will use magnetic fields to capture the atomic cloud. , And then use 'Radio wave knife' and other technologies to cool and strip the highest energy atoms, etc., and then cooling the atom cloud to a temperature closer to absolute zero to create a BEC.

At the same time, in order to prevent BEC from being disturbed by the dense components and the Earth's magnetic field, engineers will also install a shielding layer outside the device.

After the cryogenic laboratory has been airborne, there will be five research teams conducting research experiments based on this project.

Among them, one team planned to use radio waves and magnetic fields to make the BEC form bubbles of about 30 mm. Generally speaking, according to quantum mechanics, because the bubbles are thinner and have no edges, BEC's behavior may be related to the formation of discs on the Earth or The behavior of a sphere is very different.

In addition, based on the BEC, other teams will also conduct different researches around quantum mechanics to observe those quantum phenomena that cannot be realized or observed on the earth.