Physicists in the US have made the first gas that never reaches equilibrium. David Weiss and colleagues at Penn State University performed their experiment with a one-dimensional Bose gas of ultracold rubidium atoms. According to the team, the gas behaves like a “quantum Newton’s cradle” — the atomic equivalent of the popular desk toy that has five steel balls suspended from strings in a straight line. The work could help us better understand the behaviour of many-particle systems and even be used in practical applications like ultrasenstive force detectors (Nature 440 900).
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