New calculations support an alternative to "superfluidity" of a solid as the explanation for the behavior of an isotope of helium, 4He, at temperatures approaching Absolute Zero, according to a report in Physical Review Letters.
Among the most provocative recent reports in condensed materials science were studies interpreting the behavior of solid 4He in an oscillating chamber as a "supersolid." In this current paper, John S. Wettlaufer, professor of geophysics andphysics at Yale University, and his colleague J. G. Dash, emeritus professor of physics at University of Washington, offer another possible explanation.
"If you rotate a container of nearly-frozen liquid 4He, even gently, it does unusual things -- hydrodynamically," said Wettlaufer. Superfluidity has long been shown to occur as liquid 4He is cooled to within two degrees of Absolute Zero. In this state, the liquid can flow without any resistance; rotating in a container it can continue without slowing, as long as it is kept at the low temperature. The state is an effect of quantum physics known as Bose-Einstein condensation (BEC).
Janet Rettig Emanuel | EurekAlert!
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