It can get much, much chillier than this. TothGaborGyula via iStock

Though winter often seems prefer the coldest cold, temperatures have the right to drop lot lower. The is, until you hit pure zero, reports buy it Kaplan at The Washington Post. This is the allude when all movement of atoms the make up an object stop moving—a chilling 0 Kelvin or -459.67 Fahrenheit.

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Researchers have actually tried for decades to reach pure zero, which is assumed to be impossible to ever attain. But recently the scientists at the nationwide Institutes of standards (NIST) in Boulder, Colorado obtained closer than scientists ever before have. According to a press release, researchers believe the their new technique may actually permit them to reach that fabled point.

“The outcomes were a complete surprise to experts in the field,” José Aumentado, co-author that a record on the an approach recently released in the journal Nature says in the push release. “It’s a really elegant experiment the will certainly have a lot of impact.”

Though scientists have actually previously lugged individual atoms to absolute zero and also even lower, this latest study records the coldest complicated object come date. The details room pretty technical, but Kaplan describes that in a process called sideband cooling, researchers used lasers come frost over a tiny aluminum drum, simply 20 micrometers across and 100 nanometers thick.

"This might seem counterintuitive," Kaplan writes. "e"re offered to light warming points up, like the sun—but in sideband cooling, the closely calibrated angle and also frequency of the light enables photons come snatch power from the atoms as they interact."

Using this method, researchers had actually previously lessened the activity of the drum to what"s well-known as quantum "ground state"—which is simply one-third the a quantum of energy. But Teufel had one inkling it might get colder. "The limit of just how cold you can make things by shining irradiate on them to be the bottleneck the was keeping human being from obtaining colder and colder," Teufel speak Kaplan. "The concern was, is it an essential or could we actually gain colder?"

The aluminum north at NIST NIST

Though the lasers cooled the object, some noise in the lasers listed tiny "kicks" that heat, Teufel describes in the press release. So Teufel and his colleagues “squeezed” the light, lining the tiny packets of energy in the laser up also tighter come cool the north without including energy ago into the system. This permitted them come cool the drum to one fifth of a quantum, and they think that with further refinements this system might permit them come cool the north to absolute zero.

Such extreme cooling is not just a parlor trick: It has real world applications, too. “The chillier you can gain the drum, the better it is for any kind of application,” Teufel says in the press release. “Sensors would certainly become much more sensitive. You have the right to store details longer. If you were utilizing it in a quantum computer, then you would compute there is no distortion, and also you would actually get the answer you want.”

Cooling the drum could also help scientists observe some of the mysteries that quantum mechanics first hand. “I think we’re in very exciting time where this technology we have obtainable gives us access to things world have to be talking about as thought experiments for decades,” Teufel tells Ian Johnston at The Independent. “Just currently what’s interesting is we can get in the laboratory and also actually witness this quantum effects.”

Teufel speak Johnston that cooling the drum to pure zero, in which only quantum power remains, would allow scientists come observe few of the weirder facets of quantum theory. Because that instance, the drum, if it were scaled up, can be used to teleport clearly shows objects. The research study could likewise help researchers bridge the space of understand in between the allude at i beg your pardon quantum physics, i m sorry governs very tiny particles, appears to stop working and more classical physics, governing large objects choose stars and planets, starts to take over.

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Jason Daley | | READ much more

Jason Daley is a Madison, Wisconsin-based writer specializing in natural history, science, travel, and also the environment. His job-related has appeared in Discover, Popular Science, Outside, Men’s Journal, and other magazines.