Commanding the Power of Thor…ium: “Wigner Crystals of 229Th for Optical Excitation of the Nuclear Isomer”

I have to admit, I’m writing this one up partly because it lets me use the title reference. It’s a cool little paper, though, demonstrating the lengths that physicists will go to in pursuit of precision measurements. I’m just going to pretend I didn’t see that dorky post title, and ask what this is about. […]

What Do You Need to Make Cold Atoms? Appendix: “No-Laser” Methods

Last week’s series of posts on the hardware needed for laser cooling and trapping experiments dealt specifically with laser-cooling type experiments. It’s possible, though, to make cold atoms without using laser cooling, using a number of techniques I described in two posts back in January. Those didn’t go into the hardware required, though, so what’s […]

What Do You Need to Make Cold Atoms? Part 1: Vacuum Hardware

Over in the reader request thread, Richard asks for experimental details: I’d be interested in (probably a series) of posts on how people practically actually do cold atoms experiments because I don’t really know. I needed to take some new publicity photos of the lab anyway, so this is a good excuse to bust out […]

Photons: Still Bosons

Last week, Dmitry Budker’s group at Berkeley published a paper in Physical Review Letters (also free on the arxiv) with the somewhat drab title “Spectroscopic Test of Bose-Einsten Statistics for Photons.” Honestly, I probably wouldn’t’ve noticed it, even though this is the sort of precision AMO test of physics that I love, had it not […]

There’s More to Science Than Evolution

The National Science Board made a deeply regrettable decision to omit questions on evolution and the Big Bang from the Science and Engineering Indicators report for 2010. As you might expect, this has stirred up some controversy. I wasn’t surprised to learn this, as I had already noticed the omission a couple of months ago, […]

Amazing Laser Application 2: Laser Cooling!

What’s the application? Using lasers to reduce the speed of a sample of atoms, thereby reducing their temperature to a tiny fraction of a degree above absolute zero. What problem(s) is it the solution to? 1) “How can I make this sample of atoms move slowly enough to measure their properties very accurately?” 2) “How […]