Absolute Zero (-273C) has long been seen as the holy grail of thermodynamics, a temperature that had never been reached but many have long been getting closer and closer. Then this week it was announced that two German scientists have created an atomic gas that shows properties that could only be possible below absolute zero. This is only the tip of the ice berg when it comes to harnessing the power below absolute zero, but what is most eye opening is that this opens the door to better understanding another legend of the science world: Dark Energy.
No its not some kind of comic book invention that requires the Avengers to spring into action, Dark Energy is believed to be the force that causes our universe to continuously expand at an increasingly faster rate. The behavior of these particles at temperatures less than absolute zero may actually give hints regarding why Dark Energy would cause particles to fly apart when general theories suggest that it should cause them to come together. But if you think thats too confusing, perhaps the technological breakthru’s will tickle your fancy.
The biggest candidates for significant achievements based on research into particles below absolute zero: engines. The unique and powerful characteristics of this new gas could lead engines with 100% efficiency. In other words, engines where no energy is lost, a maximum use of energy. Think of any machine the operates with an engine of any kind that loses energy in some form or another (like heat). Now imagine a future where that energy is no longer lost. You would have one fast and efficient computer/car/train/fridge/etc.
Welcome to the world of below absolute zero.
Photo: eisenbahner /flickr