back to article Boffins trap ultra-cold plasma-in-a-bottle, a move that may unlock secrets of exotic stars

Physicists have trapped a sliver of the world’s coldest plasma in a magnetic "bottle" for the first time, taking the first tentative steps towards building increasingly realistic simulations of the interiors of stars. Plasma, otherwise known as the fourth state of matter, is normally formed in extremely hot environments, where …

  1. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Pint

    Mmm. A bowl of your finest cold plasma soup, please, waiter!

    Or failing that, can we has cold fusion now pls?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Mmm. A bowl of your finest cold plasma soup, please, waiter!

      (Plasma) Gazpacho soup !!!

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Mmm. A bowl of your finest cold plasma soup, please, waiter!

        Diner: Waiter! There's an ion in my soup!

        Waiter: ::shhh!:: Everybody will want one!

        1. Danny 2 Silver badge

          Re: Mmm. A bowl of your finest cold plasma soup, please, waiter!

          French On Ion soupe?

          It was 2° Kelvin in my flat last week, I had to open the windows to get rid of the miasma of plasma.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Mmm. A bowl of your finest cold plasma soup, please, waiter!

            It was 40 below[0] in Kelvin, North Dakota last week.

            [0] C or F, take your pick, I don't mind.

      2. RegGuy1 Silver badge

        Re: Mmm. A bowl of your finest cold plasma soup, please, waiter!

        I asked for that, but Rimmer told me it had to go in the microwave.

        Oh the shame.

  2. BenM 29 Bronze badge
    Coat

    Anyone seen Mr Heisingberg's invitaton to the party?

    >> the emitted frequencies allow the team to figure out where they are and how fast they’re going

    Nope. They can figure out where the ions were, and how fast they are going, or how fast they were going and where they are. Never where they are and how fast they are going, with any degree of certainty.

    /mine's the one with a copy of the 1927 edition of Quantum Mechanics for dummies in the pocket.

    1. KittenHuffer Silver badge

      Re: Anyone seen Mr Heisingberg's invitaton to the party?

      I'm not saying that he's not invited, but I would have assumed that since the experiment is being conducted at less than 2 Kelvin that the velocities of the atoms are quite low. This doesn't exclude the Uncertainty Principle, but it will minimise that effect such that useful science can be performed.

    2. Paul Kinsler Silver badge

      Re: Anyone seen Mr Heisingberg's invitaton to the party?

      It's not as binary as a simple reading of your remark might seem to be implying.

      The more accurately you know about position, the less about momentum, and vice versa; but the thing that is bounded is the *product* of the position uncertainty and momentum uncertainty; but fortunately bounded by a number generally regarded as small, i.e. Planck's constant.

    3. Cuddles Silver badge

      Re: Anyone seen Mr Heisingberg's invitaton to the party?

      "They can figure out where the ions were, and how fast they are going, or how fast they were going and where they are. Never where they are and how fast they are going, with any degree of certainty."

      Quite a high degree of certainty actually. The uncertainty principle imposes a limit on how accurately you can know the combination of certain paired parameters, but just because it's impossible to eliminate the error bars entirely, that doesn't mean you don't know anything at all. Most of the time, the uncertainty principle isn't relevant at all, since there will usually be much larger sources of error present in most experiments.

      In this specific case, they're using the fluoresence to take measurements at 50 um resolution on timescales of ~1 us. That's many, many orders of magnitude away from a scale where anyone would even bother to remember that uncertainty principles exist.

    4. Eclectic Man Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Anyone seen Mr Heisingberg's invitaton to the party?

      Surely anyone with small children is aware that it is often impossible to know either where they are or how fast they are travelling with any degree of accuracy, unless they are asleep in bed?

      People are like sub-atomic particles:

      They behave differently when they know they are being watched.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Presumably

    I assume you realize that heat is motion, and motion is motion and all energy is motion and mass is motion.... yeh, OK, you don't accept the last one, but the others, presumably you're ok with.

    So the spin of the earth is also heat, motion of our planet around the sun is also heat, that absolute zero you're chasing is only relative to your containment bottle.

    If you got to absolute zero, it would only be zero with respect to the motion of the containment bottle. The bottle would still be moving on a planet that is moving, in solar system that is moving and so technically it would not be 'absolute' universe zero, just some local zero.

    Zero is that other magic constant that isn't. Like the speed of light in a vacuum that is always c relative to the observer measuring it, as if the observer was stationary, i.e. the observer is at the magic zero and the speed of light is at c. But you are moving, so zero isn't universe zero, and thus c isn't some magic universe wide constant.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Presumably

      Maybe I can do better here:

      An atom is moving, is it heat or is some form of motion? From the perspective of the atom there is no difference, it is an atom moving.

      Hence heat is motion, motion is heat, and whether we call it motion or heat depends on how coherent the motion is. If lots of atoms bang into each other as a result of the motion, we call it heat, if they all move roughly the same way, we call it some form of motion.

      Hence I assert that absolute zero you're targeting is just a local absolute zero, because your container is moving, and that motion is just coherent heat.

    2. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Presumably

      I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together

      Goo goo g'joob, my friend

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Presumably

        Shirley that might be paraphrased as "woo woo g'joob"?

    3. A. Coatsworth
      Coat

      Re: Presumably

      >>heat is motion, and motion is motion and all energy is motion and mass is motion

      So you are saying that they have really been far even as decided to use even go want to do look more like?

      Well, I'll be damned! I never thought I'd live to see it!

    4. adam 40 Silver badge

      Re: Presumably

      "The bottle would still be moving on a planet that is moving, in solar system that is moving and so technically it would not be 'absolute' universe zero, just some local zero."

      is that why it's colder at the South and North Poles, where the motion is less (than at the equator).

      No, of course not, but if what you're saying is true it should be possible to measure the effect on the Kelvin scale at the equator, and at the poles, and probably at 6 months difference too (earth going round sun adds or subtracts from orbit around the galaxy centre)

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