Physics News of the Week: World’s Coolest Molecules

| August 25, 2014 | 0 Comments

Another week has passed and it’s time to look at the top events that happened in the world of physics throughout this week. Here are the top 3 news stories, including the links to the original articles. For more news visit our news section or register for the email newsletter.

1. Mosaic Image Reveals Martian Glory (Aug 15)

Scientists from Germany have recently completed putting together an impressive mosaic image of Mars. This global “atlas” was painstakingly constructed from pictures sent back by a camera instrument on Europe’s Mars Express spacecraft, which is in orbit around the Red Planet. The work by scientists from Freie Universität Berlin will be extremely useful during the future missions to Mars. In addition, the high-resolution mosaic could provide important geomorphological context for the mineral make-up of rocks on Mars.

Laser cooling can be used to chill molecules to extremely low temperatures 

2. First Indirect Evidence of Undetected Strange Baryons (Aug 19)

New supercomputing calculations provide the first evidence that particles predicted by the theory of quark-gluon interactions but never before observed. Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC), where the baryons are being produced in heavy-ion collisions, is one of just two places in the world where scientists can create and study a primordial soup of unbound quarks and gluons-akin to what existed in the early universe some 14 billion years ago. The research is helping to unravel how these building blocks of matter became bound into hadrons, particles composed of two or three quarks held together by gluons.

“The theory that tells us how matter forms-including the protons and neutrons that make up the nuclei of atoms-also predicts the existence of many different baryons, including some that are very heavy and short-lived, containing one or more heavy ‘strange’ quarks. Now we have indirect evidence from our calculations and comparisons with experimental data at RHIC that these predicted higher mass states of strange baryons do exist,” said Swagato Mukherjee, a co-author of the recent paper describing the exciting new results.

3.  World’s Coolest Molecules (Aug 21)

Physicists from Yale university have recently chilled the world’s coolest molecules. The molecules in question are bits of strontium monofluoride, dropped to 2.5 thousandths of a degree above absolute zero through a laser cooling and isolating process called magneto-optical trapping (MOT). They are the coldest molecules ever achieved through direct cooling, and they represent a physics milestone likely to prompt new research in areas ranging from quantum chemistry to tests of the most basic theories in particle physics. 

“We can start studying chemical reactions that are happening at very near to absolute zero,” said Dave DeMille, a Yale physics professor and principal investigator. “We have a chance to learn about fundamental chemical mechanisms.”

More news:

On the Hunt for Dark Matter
What is Nothing?
Controlling Feromagnetic Domains Using Light

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