Tuesday , September 27 2022

Nobel Prize for Physical Award: Changes in science and work unthinkable without teachers


Technological advances, as well as people's interest, are surprisingly spoken by the Nobel Prize in Physics Professor Wolfgang Ketterle, professor of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. But that is not enough.

Speaking to IC Reviever Coutri Tamkute, he said that in order to change people's lives, it is necessary to ensure synergy between science, politics and business.

– 2001 you and your colleagues Eric A. Cornell and Carl Viemann received the Nobel Prize in Physics to create an atomic state – Bose-Einstein Condensate – and study its physical properties. How do you assess the significance of this study?

– The Nobel Prize in Physics was devoted to the initial knowledge of the condensation of Bose-Einstein, which laid the foundations for further research. We managed to reach the lowest temperature ever reached in the lab – we cooled the atoms close to zero to zero (-273.15 degrees Celsius) using lasers, and we created an ecological cooler. During the study, this allowed us to discover new and explore existing materials. In my opinion, this has led to the longevity of technology. Today, scientists do not look at the condensation itself, but use the same technology to achieve even lower temperatures.

This allows us to keep control of the basic laws of nature in our hands. Atoms in high temperature move rapidly and accidentally. They are calm in a calm state. So, let's make them look like dresses – creating new, non-existent materials. This is the driving force of this research area.

I'll give you an example with a strong one. Imagine that you are in a very hot spot in the world, you have never seen snow or ice. You could only see them if the scientists in your country made a refrigerator. Suddenly you open the door, you will see what you have never dreamed of: flakes formed at low temperatures from drops of water.

Using this metaphor, we can also explain the importance of cooling atoms to absolute zero technology – suddenly we discovered a snowfall that could exist only at the temperature of nanotubes. This caused the interest of people. It is further enhanced by the fact that Albertas Einstein wants to find such a snowfall.

– At the beginning of this year, the National Agency for Aeronautics and Space Survey of the United States (NASA) has submitted a space testing laboratory to investigate material in absolute zero. How will they differ from field research?

– When we study materials on the ground, we must constantly think about the gravitational force. It prevents the collection of unexplained information about a particular substance. As is well known, kinetic energy is reduced to a minimum at low temperatures, and gravity is no longer in space. For this reason, NASA's research is moving into space.

Let me give you an example: imagine freezing a glass of water. Liquid on the surface of the vessel located in the chamber does not cover the ice. However, if you repeat the same thing in space, the ice will even cover the entire water, not just the surface. This is just a small example of how the basic principles of substance interaction do not change when gravity does not work.

On the other hand, research in such an environment is more precise. In the absence of gravitational forces, atoms are in constant free fall state. This allows for a much longer and more accurate measurement of their behavior, acting on them with other forces, testing the theory and our perception of the gravity itself.

In fact, the ability to cool the atom to an absolute zero in space is incomparable. Imagine what was reinforced in 1999 in a large, well-equipped laboratory, today you can go to a small space station under the supervision of everything remote. Amazing how much technology has advanced.

– If today's technology allows exploration of the universe, what are the discoveries of the future in the field of applied physics?

– Today we have more and better tools and much more knowledge for research than ever before. Of course, as a scientist, I only expect more research and inventions. We have perfected atomic freezing technologies and have been given the opportunity to control their movement. This is important for quantum technology and quantum computers. We are already interested in them both from the state and private companies, therefore, in my opinion, this area will expand in the future and interest will only increase.

If you allow me to speculate, I would say superconductors in the future will create a technological revolution. If we can transfer energy from one country to another without sacrificing losses, and we will learn to use superconductors on computers, this will enable us to create even the latest technology.

However, I'm trying to talk very carefully. There is so much "if". We still do not know everything about cooling the atoms, the required temperature for the transfer of energy, we can not say whether superconductors can operate under normal conditions at higher temperatures. On the other hand, we have not yet discovered a physical barrier to it.

Today, researchers are considering all the possibilities, trying to explain all possible results, but only one of them will have a real and tangible significance for society.

– Is all this – research, invention, ideas, their application – only in the hands of scientists and their responsibility?

– Indeed, our work, scientists and researchers are discovering new things. Later, everything falls into the hands of politicians. After all, in laboratories, universities do not create products, but only their prototypes.

Quantum technology is today the topic of the largest scientists and policy makers from Europe in the United States. Leading parties believe that investing billions of euros in this field of research will bring about real change.

On the other hand, the changes are unthinkable, for example, without a teacher. The evolution of society requires three pillars. The first is knowledge, created by research and analysis. Others are definitely people. They grow up in schools. The research I'm leaving can not be imagined without intelligent students who have completed good schools.

Not to stop, we develop products that change people's lives and require technology programs, usually financed by governments.

When our product mares, we can expect to take over the business. But most of the time there is a huge gap between the knowledge of the university and the moment when the product begins to bring profit, it can take over the job.

– What is the motivation of a scientist to conduct various studies, experiments? They seem to be progressing to make people's lives easier. However, the opportunity to explain the laws of the universe and its appearance is the ultimate goal and the result of their work.

– It is interesting that both these aspects are often related. The goal is to understand how nature works. She inspires various technologies. For example, atomic clocks. They can calculate the vibrations of light on atoms. It is a technology that negates the purpose of its inventors. By the early fifties, such clocks were created by people who wanted to explain relativity. Then they did not think their invention would be used for navigation, for the GPS system, for synchronization of communication. Today's atomic clocks are so sensitive that they can be used to detect gravity – geological anomalies.

So, scientists, we have the opportunity to discover new things. At the same time, we want to make the world a better place to live. In the past, we saw: if too much attention is drawn to what is good for mankind, there are obstacles to discovering fundamentally new things.

The public needs at least a few scientists who want to discover something new – not just to develop existing ideas, but to go on an unplanned path. And of course, it often takes just one step, so we can not predict how this will end.

В. Ketterle

A physicist from Germany specialized in the field of cold atoms, research into laser spectroscopy.

1995 was one of the first scientists to see the state of the atom – the Bose-Einstein condensate.

1997 created the first atomic laser.

2001 together with colleagues awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics.

She is currently a member of the Advisory Council for the Center for Excellence in Education (CEE).

At the invitation of the Vilnius University and the Foundation Alekander von Humboldt in Vilnius, a public lecture was held "Discovery of Prescriptions: Approaching Absolute Zero Temperatures".

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