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B E CThe New Phase of Matter A new phase of matter has been discovered seventy years after AlbertEinstein predicted its existence In this new state of matter atoms do not move aroundlike they would in an ordinary gas condensate The atoms move in lock step with oneanother and have identical quantum properties This will make it easier for physicists toresearch the mysterious properties of quantum mechanics It was named Molecule ofthe Year because it was such a major discovery but it is not a molecule at all Thephase called the Bose-Einstein condensate BEC follows the laws of quantum physics In early 1995 scientists at the National Institute of Standards andTechnology and the University of Colorado were the first to uncover the BEC Theymagnetically trapped rubidium atoms and then supercooled the atoms to almost absolutezero The graphic on the cover shows the Bose-Einstien condensation where the atomsvelocities peak at close to zero velocity and the atoms slowly emerge from thecondensate The atoms were slowed to the low velocity by using laser beams The hardwareneeded to create the BEC is a bargain at 50000 to 1000000 which makes it accessible tophysics labs around the world The next step is to test the new phase of matter We do not know yet ifit absorbs reflectsor refracts light BEC is related to superconductivity and may unlocksome mysteries of why some minerals are able to conduct electricity without resistanceThe asymmetrical pattern of BEC is is thought by some astrophysicists to explain the bumpydistribution of matter in the early universe a distribution that eventually led to theformation of galaxies Physicists are working on creating an atom laser using newtechnology derived from the BEC The new lasers would be able to create etchings finerthan those that etch silicon chips today The discovery of BEC has prompted a lot of research of the new phaseBEC is expected to yield benefits to industry and society I expect that large businesseswill take advantage
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