The awesome limits of superconductors

On June 24, a press release from CERN said that scientists and engineers working on upgrading the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) had “built and operated … the most powerful electrical transmission line … to date”. The transmission line consisted of four cables – two capable of transporting 20 kA of current and two, 7 kA.Continue reading “The awesome limits of superconductors”

Where is the coolest lab in the universe?

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) performs an impressive feat every time it accelerates billions of protons to nearly the speed of light – and not in terms of the energy alone. For example, you release more energy when you clap your palms together once than the energy imparted to a proton accelerated by the LHC.Continue reading “Where is the coolest lab in the universe?”

When cooling down really means slowing down

Consider this post the latest in a loosely defined series about atomic cooling techniques that I’ve been writing since June 2018. Atoms can’t run a temperature, but things made up of atoms, like a chair or table, can become hotter or colder. This is because what we observe as the temperature of macroscopic objects isContinue reading “When cooling down really means slowing down”

Atoms within atoms

It’s a matter of some irony that forces that act across larger distances also give rise to lots of empty space – although the more you think about it, the more it makes sense. The force of gravity, for example, can act across millions of kilometres but this only means two massive objects can stillContinue reading “Atoms within atoms”

The science in Netflix's 'Spectral'

It’s fun to think about the implications of a film’s antagonists being modelled after a phenomenon I’ve often read/written about but never thought about that way.

The Nobel intent

About three weeks from now, the Nobel Foundation will announce the winners of the 2015 Nobel Prizes. Every year, commentators, opinionators and enthusiasts try to guess who will win the awards – some of them have become famous because they’ve been able to guess the winners with uncanny accuracy. However, as it happens, the prizewinners’ profilesContinue reading “The Nobel intent”

A simplification of superfluidity

“Once people tell me what symmetry the system starts with and what symmetry it ends up with, and whether the broken symmetries can be interchanged, I can work out exactly how many bosons there are and if that leads to weird behavior or not,” Murayama said. “We’ve tried it on more than 10 systems, andContinue reading “A simplification of superfluidity”