Exotic Supersolid Washing Machine

Posted by on March 19th, 2009

Time for a little weird physics. What makes supersolids weird? Well according to sciencedaily.com “a supersolid, is an exotic state of matter that behaves simultaneously as a solid and a friction-free superfluid.” This means that supersolids are “defined by two seemingly contradictory properties. The atoms inside it are arranged in a crystalline, regular pattern, like any solid, but at the same time, the atoms are able to flow through the supersolid in an unrestricted way.” Meaning we might be able to use them to create all sorts of insane quantum materials previously unknown to mankind. The implications are mind boggling. Scientist Ludwig Mathey invites us to imagine a friction-free supersolid washing machine:

“If you add more clothing to a spinning washing machine, you increase the mass of its rim, and the machine needs to exert a greater force to make the wheel reverse direction…But in a supersolid washing machine, some of the clothes would mysteriously hover in space, staying stationary as the washer spins and making it easier for the wheel to reverse direction. Moreover, these hovering, frictionless clothes would form a predictable pattern—such as frictionless socks alternating with frictionless shirts—just as atoms arrange themselves in a repeating pattern in a crystal.”

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We want one. But hold on to your levitating socks, supersolid washing machines are still a dream of science fiction (such a beautiful dream). The latest research going on suggests that the key may lie in ultra cold rubidium atoms. Check out this article from sciencenews.org to find out more.

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