Monday, 27 October 2014

An international team of scientists claims to have set a world record by cooling an 880-pound block of copper to a temperature of six milliKelvins (or -459.659 degrees Fahrenheit).

That's just a smidge above absolute zero, which is roughly -460 Fahrenheit.

"This is a major technological achievement,” Dr. Karsten Heeger, a professor of physics at Yale University, said in a written statement.

Heeger is director of Yale’s Arthur W. Wright Laboratory, which is involved in the CUORE (Cryogenic Underground Observatory for Rare Events) collaboration that is conducting the cryogenics research. The collaboration, based at the Gran Sasso National Laboratory in Italy, involves 130 scientists from the U.S., Italy, China, Spain, France, and other countries.

The record-setting cold temperature--achieved with a chamber-like device known as a cryostat--is a prelude to another experiment that may help explain the behavior of ghostly subatomic particles known as neutrinos, and it may answer longstanding questions about the composition of matter in the universe.
As the scientists said in the written statement:

Specifically, the experiment will look at a rare process called neutrinoless double-beta decay. The detection of this process would let researchers demonstrate, for the first time, that neutrinos and antineutrinos are the same — thereby offering a possible explanation for the abundance of matter, rather than anti-matter, in the universe.