NS: What happens at absolute zero?

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bystander
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NS: What happens at absolute zero?

Post by bystander » Wed Feb 17, 2010 8:30 pm

What happens at absolute zero?
New Scientist: Physics & Math - 2010 Feb 17
The curious things that happen at low temperatures keep on throwing up surprises. Last week, scientists reported that molecules in an ultra-cold gas can chemically react at distances up to 100 times greater than they can at room temperature.

In experiments closer to room temperature, chemical reactions tend to slow down as the temperature decreases. But scientists found that molecules at frigid temperatures just a few hundred billionths of a degree above absolute zero (−273.15°C or 0 kelvin) can still exchange atoms, forging new chemical bonds in the process, thanks to weird quantum effects that extend their reach at low temperatures.