Scientists have now figured out how to cool things to below absolute zero. BELOW absolute zero.
Let me just rephrase that. There’s a temperature in the universe that things can’t go below because heat is energy and at that temperature there’s literally no more energy left to lose. Going below absolute zero is like eating a cake that isn’t there. THERE IS NO CAKE, STOP TRYING TO EAT IT also all your molecules are inert and you can’t chew things okay this metaphor is breaking down.
Then scientists came by and said, “we’re gonna take some more energy out of it anyway because quantum” and I guess the universe said “oh, well, quantum” or something because now this happened.
There was a smart guy who once said that any sufficiently advanced science is indistinguishable from magic and clearly he was right because this shit is fucking sorcery.
BELOW ABSOLUTE ZERO HOLY SHIT
So I guess they’re going to have to rename “absolute zero” since it’s not so absolute anymore.
no absolute zero is still a thing BECAUSE QUANTUM
so it’s complicated and that wired article linked at the top is absolute shit here try these instead but basically this doesn’t refer to temperature how we think of it, as in something is hot or cold, but rather to the physical definition of temperature, which is how the particles are interacting
REMINDER that i’m not an actual scientist, i just watch a lot of through the wormhole and think i understand shit okay, okay
so the faster particles move, the hotter something is, and the more energy it has, and the colder something is, the slower the particles move, the less energy it has okay simple got it great. at zero kelvin (minus 273 degrees celsius) the particles stop moving altogether and that shit is cold, we’re talking like vacuum of space billions of light years away from everything freezing. it’s impossible to get colder than that on the kelvin scale, which is why they call it absolute zero, yo
but here’s where it gets cool okay because quantum is like the acid trip of the science world and everybody wants to hang out but nobody actually understands it REALLY, because this is some seriously weird shit like “oh look here at this cool particle OH FUCK NOW IT’S A BARCALOUNGER” type business, okay, for serious, it’s weird
SOOOO okay how this happened has to do with what I explained up above about energy and particles and shit here’s an example: when you boil water, as the water heats up, the molecules increase their kinetic energy over time, and move faster ON AVERAGE. but you have to remember that everything in the goddamn universe is actually made up of little goddamn particles, and each one has its OWN IDENTITY, so not all the water particles are going to have the same amount of kinetic energy. some are all like “fuck you, establishment!” and have a lower level of kinetic energy. but the water still boils - because the AVERAGE level of kinetic energy in the particles is still enough to cook your goddamn ramen. but not all. in fact, MOST of the particles are still chillin’, and only a few heroic superman particles are the ones moving really fast and boiling your goddamn water, because low-energy states are more likely than high-energy states, which is this fancy bullshit called the Boltzmann distribution, hey look we’re learning something new
so what the fuck does this have to do with below absolute zero CALM YOUR TITS I’LL TELL YOU, basically what these goddamn badasses at the Planck Institute of Quantum Awesomeness did was invert this situation. so instead of most of the particles being low-energy and a few being high-energy, they motherfuckin’ switched that shit around and most of them are HIGH-energy and just a few are LOW-energy. WHAT THE FUCK I KNOW RIGHT
so when you invert this goddamn Boltzmann distribution WHAT DO YOU GET? NEGATIVE ABSOLUTE ZERO TEMPERATURE, because temperature in this context is referring to the behavior of the particles, not how goddamn cold it is, you feel
so actually this gas isn’t cold it all IT’S REALLY REALLY HOT, actually it’s so fucking hot that it’s HOTTER THAN ANY POSITIVE TEMPERATURE, which is really goddamn hot, okay, hotter than the entire unf tumblr tag, probably
what the fuck though, that’s confusing YEAH I KNOW IT IS, basically take it from motherfuckin’ bad ass quantum boss scientist ULRICH SCHNEIDER:
The inverted Boltzmann distribution is the hallmark of negative absolute temperature; and this is what we have achieved. Yet the gas is not colder than zero kelvin, but hotter. It is even hotter than at any positive temperature - the temperature scale simply does not end at infinity, but jumps to negative values instead.
GODDAMN, WORK IT, ULRICH
this is super cool because they basically figured out how to REARRANGE THE UNIVERSE in order to work that bitch to produce more energy than we thought we could, which has a lot of potential as far as engines and shit go, because a theoretical engine running on negative temperature is like A BAGAZILLION times more stable and efficient than these shitty engines we use now, holy fuck i know
it also could be super cool for those badasses over in cosmology because HEY GUESS WHAT this negative temperature business seems a lot like the behavior of DARK ENERGY which is super fuckin’ cool, go study that shit guys
so yeah, science, man. HIGH FIVE, PHYSICISTS, GOOD SHOW
Can this person please start writing textbooks? Best shit I’ve read in a long time. Educational and funny as hell. Love it.
Science of the day!
Goddammit I love it when tumblr explains science!
Tim Kreider, in his piece, “The Year After” (collected in his great book, We Learn Nothing), talks about what a wonderful year he had after he got stabbed in the throat and almost died: “it was one of the best things that ever happened to me…. After my unsuccessful murder, I wasn’t unhappy for an entire year.”
I started brewing my own dandelion wine in a big Amish crock. I listened to old one hit wonders, much too embarrassing to name in public. And I developed a strange new laugh that’s stayed with me to this day— a loud, raucous barking thing. It makes people in bars or restaurants look over for a second to make sure I’m not about to open up on the crowd with a weapon.
Trouble was the feeling didn’t last:
You’d like to think that nearly getting killed would be a permanently life-altering experience. But getting stabbed was like a lightning strike— over almost as soon as it happened, and the illumination didn’t last. You can’t feel crazily grateful to be alive your whole life anymore than you can stay passionately in love forever, or grieve forever for that matter. Time makes us all betray ourselves and get back to the busy work of living.
It’s easy now to dismiss that year as nothing more than the same sort of shaky, hysterical high you’d feel after being clipped by a taxi. But you could also try to think of it as a rare glimpse of reality, being jolted out of a lifelong stupor. I can’t recapture that feeling of euphoric gratitude any more than I can really remember the mortal terror I felt when I was pretty sure I had about four minutes to live. But I know that it really happened, that that state of grace is accessible to us, even if I only blundered across it once and never find my way back.
George Saunders, in a wonderful New York Times profile, tells a story about his plane hitting a flock of geese, thinking he was going to die, and the feeling afterwards:
“For three or four days after that,” he said, “it was the most beautiful world. To have gotten back in it, you know? And I thought, If you could walk around like that all the time, to really have that awareness that it’s actually going to end. That’s the trick.”
(Maira Kalman, from The Principles of Uncertainty)
In many cases, a near-death experience has led to the formation of an artist. When he was 16, Wayne Coyne, the Flaming Lips frontman, was held up in a Long John Silvers:
I realised I was going to die and when that gets into your mind that’s a motherfucker. It utterly changed me for a while there. I thought, ‘I’m not going to sit here and wait for things to happen, I’m going to make them happen, and if people think I’m an idiot I don’t care.’
(A post-it note from Roger Ebert, after he almost died from cancer and lost his voice.)
Here’s Steve Jobs:
Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked.
Thing is, I am a coward. As much as I wouldn’t mind that “existential euphoria” that comes with it, I don’t really want a near-death experience. I want to live and be safe and stay away from death as much as I can. (So far in my life I’ve been pretty lucky to be insulated from it.) I certainly don’t want to taunt it or court it or invite it closer. But I do somehow want to remember that it’s coming for me.
I guess that’s why I read the obituaries every morning — it’s a way to think about death while keeping arm’s length. Reading about people who are dead now and did notable things with their lives makes me want to do something decent with mine…