When temperatures fall to record lows, some hardy folks like to boast that they went about their daily tasks unfazed by the wind chill warnings. Well, if sub-zero bragging rights are at stake, the International Space Station will soon have the entire universe beat.
In 2016, a new instrument due to be added to the ISS — NASA’s Cold Atom Laboratory — will become the coldest location in the known universe. The instrument is capable of achieving a temperature of 100 Pico-kelvin, or one ten-billionth of a degree above absolute zero. For perspective, the average temperature of space is a balmy 2.7 Kelvin, or -454.81 degrees Fahrenheit.
At these extremely low temperatures, ordinary concepts of solid, liquid and gas are irrelevant. Matter can be in two places at once, objects behave simultaneously as particles and waves, and nothing is certain.
As close to absolute zero as we have ever seen. Colder than space itself.
Atoms act like a wave and a particle.Quantum effects mean they can exist in two places at once.
The lack of gravity menas we can observe the matter for tens of seconds at a time. It could open up entirely new understanding of the physical properties of all sorts of things.