March 29, 2012

This is one of the more boring bits of this page, but I thought it was interesting. This is a video about the phenomenon of “supersolidity”, where solids (particularly helium) don’t move as one mass, like nearly every other solid does. For a low-tech image, imagine shaking a disk of helium-4. Because this is hypothetical, your hand doesn’t immediately freeze because helium-4 is solid only at extremely low temperatures ( Beween 0 and 1 degree K, and perhaps pressures greater than normal atmospheric). When you shake it in one direction and stop it abruptly, most of the molecules will stop as well. A few of them, however, around 1% according to the study, will move a bit further, breaking and remaking the bonds between clusters of helium-4 molecules like it ain’t no thang. 

Is it earth-shattering? Not by any stretch of the imagination, no, considering that scientists aren’t entirely sure it actually exists, but it does expand on how we think things work. The bigger question is whether or not we’re right. Here’s hoping we are. 

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