Condensed Matter

Category archives for Condensed Matter

Several years ago, now, a group at Penn State announced a weird finding in helium at extremely low temperatures and high pressures (which is what you need to make helium solidify): when they made a pendulum out of a cylindrical container with a thin shell of solid He toward the outside edge, twisting about its…

BEC: What Is It Good For?

Another response copied/adapted from the Physics Stack Exchange. The question was: What are the main practical applications that a Bose-Einstein condensate can have? Bose Einstein Condensation, for those who aren’t familiar with it, is a phenomenon where a gas of particles with the right spin properties cooled to a very low temeprature will suddenly “condense”…

Poll: Top Physics Story of 2010?

It’s the last week of the (calendar) year, which means it’s a good time to recap the previous twelve months worth of scientific news. Typically, publications like Physics World will publish a list of top ten physics stories of 2010, but we’re all Web 2.0 these days, so it seems more appropriate to put this…

Physics Is All About Analogies

Regular commenter onymous left a comment to my review of Warped Passages that struck me as a little odd: The extended analogy between the renormalization group and a bureaucracy convinced me that she was trying way too hard to make sophisticated concepts comprehensible. Also, I’m not really sure that analogies are the best way to…

The 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics goes to Geim and Novoselov for their work on graphene, a material consisting of one-atom-thick sheets of carbon atoms in a hexagonal array. This is one of those prizes that was basically inevitable, as graphene is one of the hot materials of the last couple of years. Hardly a…

Melting Simulated Insulators

The Joerg Heber post that provided one of the two papers for yesterday’s Hanbury Brown Twiss-travaganza also included a write-up of a new paper in Nature on Mott insulators, which was also written up in Physics World. Most of the experimental details are quite similar to a paper by Markus Greiner’s group I wrote up…

New Physics Blogs

A couple of new-to-me but good physics blogs to point out this week: All That Matters by Joerg Heber. This looks like it will be updated weekly-ish, and has a couple of good entries, including a nice write-up of an ultrafast laser experiment that I had flagged to write about before I got distracted by…

Cold Atoms and Cooper Pairs

So, last week, I talked about how superconductors work, and I have in the past talked about the idea of making cold atoms look like electrons. And obvious question, then, whould be: Do cold atoms systems allow us to learn anything about superconductivity? The answer here is, unfortunately, “Yes and no.” That’s pretty weaselly, dude.…

I had the tab open and everything, and still somehow forgot to include a link to John Baez’s blog post reporting on a talk by Tony Leggett which directly addresses some of the questions asked about yesterday’s superconductivity post. It’s about a talk called “Cuprate superconductivity: the current state of play” (“state of play” apparently…

How Do Superconductors Work?

In the reader request thread, Brad asks about superconductors: Why is a room temperature superconductor so hard? Why do things have to be cold for there to be no resistance (I can guess, but my knowledge of super conductors consists of the words “Cooper pairs” which does not get me very far.) Since next year…