Los Angeles: Scientists at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration or NASA are setting out to create the coldest place in the universe, which they believe may help them to find more about gravity and origination of Earth. Leading the pack is Dr Anita Sengupta, who is working overtime to create the coldest measurable place, and for that she is using the International Space Station or ISS as her base.
Ms Sengupta, a scientist who rides motorcycles and flies planes in her spare time, heads NASA's project called the Cold Atom Laboratory or CAL.
"We are working on a mission which will make the coldest measured spot in the universe aboard the International Space Station which is roughly a billion times colder than the temperature of space, almost at absolute zero temperature... We will probably see new and interesting physics," she said.
On the International Space Station her team will create the coldest spot where literally atoms stop moving. A small box will be sent to the International Space Station, most likely next month, where it will freeze gas atoms to create the coldest spot in the universe. Inside that box, lasers, a vacuum chamber and an electromagnetic knife will be used to cancel out the energy of gas particles, slowing them until they're almost motionless.
When atoms are cooled to extreme temperatures they can form a distinct state of matter known as a Bose-Einstein condensate. In this state quantum physics begins to take over and familiar rules of physics recede.
Matter can be observed behaving more like waves and less like particles. These waveforms have never been seen at temperatures as low as what NASA hopes to achieve in the Cold Atom Laboratory.
On Earth, atoms travel towards the ground due to gravity and so the Bose-Einstein condensate is not maintained for long. In space, with no gravity, the atoms can hold the wave-like form for longer in free fall - something that will enable scientists to understand physics at its most basic level.