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The Coldest Place in the Universe

The infrastructure of the Cold Atom Laboratory

JPL/NASA

The infrastructure of the Cold Atom Laboratory

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The Cold Atom Laboratory or CAL for short is going to become the coldest place in the universe when it goes up to the International Space Station in June of 2017.

This Cold Atom Laboratory is going to be over one hundred times colder than the previous coldest place in the universe. The reason being that up in space, temperatures can drop lower than on Earth because there is no gravity in space. The new Cold Atom Laboratory is going to go all the way down to a picokelvin before absolute zero, a trillion times colder than the Boomerang Nebula, which was the coldest place in the universe before 2013.

In an interview on Space Station Live which can be found here, Dr. Anita Sengputa said, “We want to see what happens when we get matter down to these temperatures. Instead of behaving like particles or billiard balls, matter actually behaves as waves.” When the matter turns into waves it becomes a lot easier to do experiments as the matter is free to manipulate. This is how the scientists will be able to do research on a quantum level.

The amount of research scientists will be able to do after the CAL is sent up to the International Space Station is monumental. The reason being that when you are up in space, the scientists can bring the interaction time to as long as 20 seconds, doing so will allow observation of new quantum phenomena.

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