So I apologies for the lateness of this post (was caught up in the epic amazingness that is PAX AUS. Yes, it was perfect and life changing. There is not one thing I would change about that weekend, I met some amazing people and did a lot of amazing things.) On the way down I had realized “oh crap… the due date for this would be over the weekend….”
And in that moment I wished I were a Time Lord. Unfortunately, I left my Tardis at home so I was unable to go back in time. That is why this is sooo late.
Introducing, Super fluid Helium.
Super.. Super “fluid”? If you are like me then first time i heard that word you are doing either or both of these things:
Googling “Super Fluid”
maybe your face looks like this:
Fear not, all will be explained.
A super fluid is that which flows WITHOUT friction. So let’s say you put down a cup with a liquid circulating around in it and you leave it. You come back 10 minutes later, and of course, it has stopped moving. The atoms in the liquid will collide with one another and slow down (friction). However, if you did this with super fluid helium, you could leave it for a million years and on your return it would still be moving. Crazy, right?
There are a large number of physic experiments that make you go “wait a minute… what?” like these:
Super fluidity flows from the concepts of quantum mechanics, but unlike other quantumy stuff, super fluid helium’s weirdo behaviours are visible to the naked eye! You can watch it and all its flowing glory here (thanks to the BBC): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Z6UJbwxBZI
Key to the effect is helium’s unique ability to remain liquid down to absolute zero (around – 459.67 F or -273.15 degrees C [this is the temperature at which atoms theoretically stop moving]). When most liquids are cooled, the slight attraction that is created between atoms in the fluid finally begins to overcome the heat vibrations, and the particles settle into a somewhat regular order, resulting in a solid. Helium atoms, however, are so light and weakly drawn to each other that even after the ordinary atomic motions have quieted, the atoms jiggle about, somewhat excited, and a slight momentum is imparted resulting in a “never settle down” attitude and do not become a solid. (Life lesson: be more like Helium)
Super fluid Helium has zero viscosity and this makes it capable of dribbling through molecule thin cracks, climb up and over the sides of a dish and remain motionless when a container is spun http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TBi908sct_U&feature=related
It can create fountains of amazing at the right temperature http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCJ24176enM
So what? You say. Who cares? Well, if you were thinking of being cryogenically frozen you might care; Super fluid-helium technology is used to extend the temperature range of cryocoolers to lower temperatures. I’m sure some of you must watch Futurama (@Star_trek_Loser I am looking at you) and this just shows how real those things shown in popular culture have the potential to be. Cryogenics today, flight tubes tomorrow. (Yes, your hover boards are coming too.)
Update on ARKYD: the Kickstarter was reached! http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1458134548/arkyd-a-space-telescope-for-everyone-0
Also this is wicked cool: Magnetic “thinking” putty http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2bx3PYFwnnA&feature=endscreen
As always, if you have any questions, comments or retorts of any kind, feel free to hit me up on Twitter! @samiimpossible is always ready and willing to talk science with anyone and everyone.
Your friendly science lover,
This post was originally written by Samantha Levett, who has an amazing booty.