Re: [humanism-174] Below Zero K.?

From: Russell S.
Sent on: Saturday, January 5, 2013 11:13 AM
Thanks so much for that Readers digest version of the research Randy!    I can recall one or 2 news reports about that in the last few years and always wanted to know more (but was too lazy to search for the details myself)....   but have these discoveries on the nature of light lead to any important changes in the world of physics?   The how, why  (or why not),   about that would also be nice to know.   Gratitudes,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Rus                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

“There is a theory which states that if ever anyone

discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it

is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by

something even more bizarre and inexplicable.

There is another theory which states that

this has already happened.”

~Douglas Adams

 
Sent: Saturday, January 05,[masked]:24 AM
Subject: Re: [humanism-174] Below Zero K.?
 
Pretty radical stuff!
Tim
 
In a message dated 1/5/[masked]:22:35 A.M. Eastern Standard Time, [address removed] writes:
Truly amazing.  It was a big deal to find that light could be bent by gravity, fully stopped is hard to imagine. What does a light wave-particle look like when stopped?  How could light pass out of this absolute zero zone to even know that this has occurred  Does light shining in just collect in a big pile? I have to read more about this. This is out of the realm of our experience to even visualize such a thing.
 
Ray Valenti


On Fri, Jan 4, 2013 at 7:06 PM, Randy Pelton <[address removed]> wrote:
Here is the answer to your question Mark:


I found this article by following a link at the bottom of the article you posted to another article about the MIT physicists who have produced the lowest temperatures to date and play around with the bizarre form of matter called Bose-Einstein condensate. I am only vaguely familiar with this form of matter of which virtually everyone outside of physics has probably never heard about. I learned a great deal I did not know from the article you referenced and the one I excerpted below. Will need to incorporate this stuff into what I teach.

Here is an excerpt. I have bold-faced the part about light.

"Another contender for the coldest spot is across Cambridge, in Lene Vestergaard Hau's lab at Harvard. Her personal best is a few millionths of a degree F above absolute zero, close to Ketterle's, which she, too, reached while creating BECs. "We make BECs every day now," she says as we go down a stairwell to a lab packed with equipment. A billiards-table-size platform at the center of the room looks like a maze constructed of tiny oval mirrors and pencil-lead-thin laser beams. Harnessing BECs, Hau and her co-workers have done something that might seem impossible: they have slowed light to a virtual standstill. The speed of light, as we've all heard, is a constant: 186,171 miles per second in a vacuum. But it is different in the real world, outside a vacuum; for instance, light not only bends but also slows ever so slightly when it passes through glass or water. Still, that's nothing compared with what happens when Hau shines a laser beam of light into a BEC: it's like hurling a baseball into a pillow. "First, we got the speed down to that of a bicycle," Hau says. "Now it's at a crawl, and we can actually stop it—keep light bottled up entirely inside the BEC, look at it, play with it and then release it when we're ready."

This just illustrates the apparent strangeness of the universe. I think geneticist and evolutionary biologist J.B.S. Haldane said it best:
 
"I have no doubt that in reality the future will be vastly more surprising than anything I can imagine. Now my own suspicion is that the Universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose." -- J.B.S. Haldane, 1927, Possible Worlds and Other Papers (p. 286)

Discoveries since 1927 have certainly demonstrated the accuracy of Haldane's suspicions.

Randy






 

From: Mark Tiborsky <[address removed]>
To: [address removed]
Sent: Friday, January 4,[masked]:46 PM
Subject: [humanism-174] Below Zero K.?
 
I wonder if the speed-o'-light limit is flexible as well-
 




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