This is the second report sent by Fjordman to the Tundra Tabloids for publishing, the first one being about Honey, Mead and Prehistoric Beer. Though the topic of this second report is completely different from the first, the theme is rewardingly similar, Western influenced science spurred on by inquisitiveness and ingenuity results in amazing fundamental breakthroughs, whether it be in the beer making process or in superconductivity. Enjoy. KGS

Superconductivity and Bose-Einstein Condensates

By Fjordman

Satyendra Nath Bose (1894-1974) from India is remembered for co-introducing the state of matter known as a Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC), where atoms or subatomic particles, cooled to near absolute zero (0 K, or minus 273.15 °C), coalesce into a single quantum mechanical entity. The process is similar to condensation when drops of liquid form from a gas. This state of matter was predicted in 1924 by Einstein on the basis of Bose’s quantum formulations. His name is honored in the name of a class of particles called “bosons.” The particle class known as “fermions” is named after the Italian nuclear physicist Enrico Fermi.
Eric Cornell (born 1961) and Carl Wieman (born 1951) from the USA shared the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2001 with the German scientist Wolfgang Ketterle (born 1957) for the first successful creation of a Bose-Einstein condensate in 1995. What happens is that “when a given number of identical Bose particles approach each other sufficiently closely, and move sufficiently slowly, they will collectively convert to the lowest energy state: a BEC. This occurs when atoms are chilled to very low temperatures. The wavelike nature of atoms allows them to spread out and even overlap. If the density is high enough, and the temperature low enough (mere billionths of degrees above absolute zero), the atoms will behave like the photons in a laser: they will be in a coherent state and constitute a single ‘super atom.’”
BECs are related to superconductivity, a phenomenon of virtually zero electrical resistance which occurs in certain materials at very low temperatures. Superconductivity and superfluidity are cases of macroscopic quantum phenomena, quantum behavior observable on the human scale. Because of the European electrochemical revolution, the nineteenth and twentieth centuries saw rapid advances in the production of low temperatures, or cryogenics.
The Dutch physicist Heike Kamerlingh Onnes (1853-1926), following advances made by fellow Dutchman Johannes Diderik van der Waals, managed to liquify helium. Johannes Diderik van der Waals (1837-1923) was born in the famous university town of Leiden in the Netherlands, where he also studied, before he in 1876 was appointed the first Professor of Physics at the newly established University of Amsterdam. “Together with Van’t Hoff and Hugo de Vries, the geneticist, he contributed to the fame of the University, and remained faithful to it until his retirement, in spite of enticing invitations from elsewhere.” He made extremely valuable contributions to the study of gases and liquids and was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1910 for his groundbreaking research on these states of matter. He also served as a guide for the experiments which led to the liquefaction of hydrogen and helium.
The brilliant Dutch physical chemist Jacobus Henricus van ‘t Hoff (1852-1911) was born in Rotterdam, the son of a physician, and studied at the Polytechnic School at Delft. He then proceeded to Bonn to work with the great German organic chemist Friedrich Kekulé. In 1878 he was appointed Professor of Chemistry, Mineralogy and Geology at the University of Amsterdam. His pressure laws, given general validity by the electrolytic dissociation theory of Svante Arrhenius from Sweden (1884-1887), are considered the most comprehensive in the realm of natural sciences. He accepted an invitation to go to Berlin from 1896 to 1905.
Wilhelm Ostwald (1853-1932) was a Baltic German born in Riga, Latvia, graduated from the University of Tartu, Estonia. In 1881 he became Professor of Chemistry at the Polytechnicum in Riga. Six years later he was appointed Professor of Physical Chemistry at Leipzig University. Walther Nernst (1864-1941) was born in West Prussia (now Poland) and went to the Universities of Zürich, Berlin and Graz where he studied physics and mathematics. In 1887 he became an assistant to Ostwald at Leipzig University in Germany, where van’t Hoff and Arrhenius were already established. All four of these men won well-deserved Nobel Prizes in Chemistry and are considered co-founders of physical chemistry. According to the Third Law of Thermodynamics, formulated by Walther Nernst in 1905, absolute zero cannot be attained by any means, but scientists have attained temperatures of a tiny fraction above it.
Nobel laureate Heike Kamerlingh Onnes was born at Groningen in the Netherlands. In 1870 he entered the University of Groningen and went on to Heidelberg, Germany as a student of Bunsen and Kirchhoff. He devoted his career to a quest to explore the behavior of matter at extremely low temperatures. Raoul Pictet (1846-1929) from Switzerland and Louis-Paul Cailletet (1832-1913) from France independently liquefied small amounts of oxygen in 1877.

In 1898 the Scottish scientist James Dewar (1842-1923), also remembered for his invention of the vacuum flask known as the thermos with its valuable heat-preserving properties, beat him in the race to liquefy hydrogen. Onnes moved on to liquefying helium in 1908, which made it possible to cool other substances, too, and study the properties of matter near absolute zero. His Dutch student Willem Hendrik Keesom (1876-1956) managed to solidify helium in 1926.

In 1911 he began studying the electrical conductivity of metals at low temperatures. “Keeping the mercury in a U-shaped tube with wires at both ends, he passed a current through it and measured resistance as he lowered the temperature. At first, as the temperature dropped, the resistance also dropped slowly. Then, suddenly, at 4.19 Kelvin, the resistance abruptly vanished.” This result had not been predicted by anyone. His team repeated the experiment until they were convinced that the effect was real. Onnes coined the term superconductivity and showed that tin and lead, too, become superconducting at very low temperatures.
The Russian physicist Pyotr Kapitsa (1894-1984) studied in Russia and went to Cambridge University in Britain to work with Ernest Rutherford. Nobody expected him to return to the Soviet Union at the time of Joseph Stalin’s ruthless Communist regime, but while visiting friends in 1934 the police detained him. Soviet authorities gave him a laboratory in Moscow. He eventually accepted his fate, but retained a remarkable independence of spirit. In 1937, Kapitsa found that liquefied helium flows with almost no internal friction, displaying bizarre behavior such as a tendency to climb spontaneously out of its container. This is called superfluidity. He got the 1978 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work in low temperature physics.
In 1935 the German-born physicist Fritz London (1900-1954) was the first to propose that superfluidity was Bose-Einstein condensation, and in the 1930s with his brother Heinz London (1907-1970) developed the first significant theory of superconductivity. In the Soviet Union, Vitaly Ginzburg (1916-2009) and Lev Landau (1908-1968) built a mathematical model to describe the phenomenon.

Landau was born in Baku at the Caspian Sea, studied at the University of Leningrad, as Saint Petersburg was called in Communist times, and toured the major centers of quantum mechanics in Western Europe. He was arrested as a Western spy during the Stalinist paranoia of the Great Purge of the 1930s but was eventually released. According to author Roger G. Newton, “His influence on Russian physics is impossible to overestimate. Only the exigencies of history and geography prevented the school he created around him from becoming comparable to the earlier one of Arnold Sommerfeld.”

Lev Landau received an unshared Nobel Prize in Physics for his work in 1962. Vitaly Ginzburg shared the Nobel Prize in 2003 with the Russian theoretical physicist Alexei A. Abrikosov (born 1928) and the English, US-based physicist Anthony J. Leggett (born 1938) for their “pioneering contributions to the theory of superconductors and superfluids.”)
The Swiss physicist Karl Alexander Müller (born 1927) together with his younger colleague Johannes Georg Bednorz (born 1950) from Neuenkirchen, Germany made a major breakthrough in 1986: Superconductivity at a higher temperature than ever achieved before. Born in Basel, Switzerland, Müller was related to a prominent family of Swiss chocolate makers and received his education at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zürich. Müller and Bednorz were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics the year after, in 1987, which is exceptionally fast and a sign of how important their work was perceived as being.
Since Heike Kamerlingh Onnes discovered superconductivity, all known superconductors were made of metals or semiconducting alloys, but Bednorz and Müller used ceramics made from metallic oxide mixtures. A group at the University of Houston in the USA thereafter raised the critical temperature, when the resistance of the material drops to virtually zero, high enough to use liquid nitrogen rather than the much more costly liquid helium as a refrigerant. The boiling point of liquid nitrogen in atmospheric pressure is 77 K or -196 °C, as opposed to an extremely cold 4.2 K for the standard Helium-4, slightly less for the rare Helium-3 isotope. It is hoped that superconductivity will turn out to be of great importance in the future, but its practical potential has been limited so far by the fact that the currently known high-temperature superconductors are all made from brittle and expensive ceramic materials.
The melting- and boiling points of various materials are affected by pressure as well as temperature. While water boils at 100 °C in standard atmospheric pressure at sea level it can boil at lower temperatures on mountain tops where the pressure is lower. Likewise, next to hydrothermal vents at the ocean floors it can exceed 100 °C without boiling. It is for the same reason that the Earth’s iron-rich inner core is solid, despite the fact that the temperature there is thought to be several thousand degrees above iron’s “atmospheric” melting point, 1536 °C.
Although Lev Landau, Vitaly Ginzburg and Fritz London, all of them Jews, had taken some steps toward explaining superconductivity, this phenomenon remained puzzling. John Bardeen from the USA became the first person to win the Nobel Prize in Physics twice. He received a Ph.D. in mathematical physics at Harvard University. Together with Walter Brattain and William Shockley he invented the first transistor in 1947. For this monumental achievement, all three men shared the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1956. The Americans Robert Noyce and Jack Kilby in 1958 independently invented the integrated circuit or microchip, which incorporates many transistors into one chip made of the semiconductor material silicon.
John Bardeen also shared the 1972 Nobel Prize in Physics with the American postdoctoral researcher Leon Cooper (born 1930) and the graduate student Robert Schrieffer (born 1931), with whom he developed the first generally accepted theory of low-temperature superconductivity, the BCS theory. “According to the theory, electrons traveling through the crystal lattice of a superconductor cause the inward warping of that lattice and the production of phonons, packets of sound or vibratory energy. In turn, the phonons facilitate the coupling of electrons (phonon-mediated coupling), resulting in electron pairs (termed Cooper pairs).”
The BCS theory was quite successful, yet has so far not worked equally well with some of the high-temperature superconductors developed later. The Welsh physicist Brian D. Josephson (born 1940) from Cardiff, Wales, educated at the University of Cambridge in England, carried the work on Cooper pairs of electrons further and showed that they could tunnel through the barrier between two superconductors. This turned out to have a number of useful applications.
Josephson shared the 1973 Nobel Prize in Physics with the physicists Leo Esaki (born 1925) from Osaka, Japan and Ivar Giaever (born 1929) from Bergen, Norway, both of whom have been based in the United States for much of their time, for their discoveries regarding tunneling phenomena in solids. In quantum physics, electrons and other particles can behave both like particles and like waves that can penetrate a barrier. The term tunneling phenomenon refers to this property. Esaki’s work in 1958 provided the basis for Giaever’s tunnel experiments with superconductors. His efforts in turn created the basis for Josephson’s theoretical discoveries in 1962. Examples of applications in the field of semiconductors are tunnel diodes and detectors, tunnel transistors and certain forms of semiconductor lasers.
The “Hall effect” is named after the American scientist Edwin Hall (1855-1938), who in 1879 found that a magnetic field at right angles to a current-carrying conductor produced a sideways voltage difference. This happens because electrically charged particles moving in a magnetic field are influenced by a force and deflected. The effect can be used to determine the density of charge carriers and has become a standard tool in physics laboratories. It aided the insight that the carriers of electricity were negatively charged particles later dubbed electrons. The German physicist Klaus von Klitzing (born 1943), for years a director of the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research in Stuttgart, received the 1985 Nobel Prize in Physics alone for the discovery of the quantum Hall effect. His discovery opened up a new research field of great relevance because of the extremely high precision in the quantum Hall effect.
Robert B. Laughlin (born 1950), a professor of physics at Stanford University in the USA, shared the 1998 Nobel Prize in Physics with the Chinese-born American physicist Daniel C. Tsui (born 1939) and the physicist Horst Ludwig Störmer, born 1949 in Frankfurt am Main in Germany, for the subsequent discovery and explanation in the early 1980s of the fractional quantum Hall effect. Tsui and Störmer used extremely powerful magnetic fields and low temperatures for this purpose. The electrons in a powerful magnetic field can condense to form a kind of quantum fluid related to those that occur in superconductivity or liquid helium.

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