What Do You Need to Make Cold Atoms? Part 2: Lasers and Optics

Following on yesterday’s discussion of the vacuum hardware needed for cooling atoms, let’s talk about the other main component of the apparatus: the optical system. The primary technique used for making cold atoms is laser cooling, and I’m sure it will come as no surprise that this requires lasers, and where there are lasers, there […]

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 […]

When Should You Open Your Car Windows? An Experiment

Back at the start of the summer, I asked a question about automotive thermodynamics: On a hot day, is it better to open your car windows a crack when making a short stop, or leave them closed? For a long term– say, leaving your car parked outside all day– I hope everyone will agree that […]

Measuring Temperature by Counting Atoms: “Suppressed Fluctuations in Fermi Gases”

When one of the most recent issues of Physical Review Letters hit my inbox, I immediately flagged these two papers as something to write up for ResearchBlogging. This I looked at the accompanying viewpoint in Physics, and discovered that Chris Westbrook already did most of the work for me. And, as a bonus, you can […]

Why Would Anybody in Their Right Mind Build the LHC?

In the comments following the silly accelerator poll, onymous wrote: [T]he point of the LHC isn’t to discover the Higgs. No one in their right minds would build a 14 TeV pp collider if their only goal was to discover the Higgs. While it’s true that the ultimate goal of the LHC is to discover […]

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 […]

Through a (Noble) Gas, Darkly

There’s a minor kerfuffle at the moment over the XENON experiment’s early data (arxiv paper) which did not detect any dark matter in 11 days of data acquisition. This conflicts with earlier claims by the DAMA experiment and recent maybe-kinda-sorta detections by the CoGeNT and CDMA experiments. As a result, a couple of members of […]

The Most Amazing Laser Application of All Time Is…

Voting has closed on the Laser Smackdown poll, with 772 people recording their opinion on the most amazing of the many things that have been done with lasers in the fifty years since the invention of the first working laser (see the Laserfest web site for more on the history and applications of lasers). The […]