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First-Of-Its-Kind Physics Experiment Proved The Negative Mass Concept; Superfluid With Negative Mass Developed

First Posted: Apr 19, 2017 04:00 AM EDT
Superfluid With Negative Mass Developed
The fluid moves toward the direction of the force applied.
(Photo : World Science Festival/YouTube screenshot)

Negative mass concept has always been considered as a hypothetical theoretical physics concept. Theoretically, if an object has negative mass, then the force applied on it also becomes negative. It can be explained based on Newton's second law. The law states that the force applied on an object equals to the multiplication of its mass and acceleration. Since the mass of the object is negative, the net force also becomes negative. In more simple terms, pushing such objects farther away will only bring them closer.

It may sound unrealistic, especially because for most people who are not physicists, mass and weight are overlapping concepts. It is difficult for them to imagine objects working against their weight. Surprisingly, the findings of an international study conducted by ace researchers from Washington State University, U.S., Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University, Japan, and Shanghai University, China, proved that there really exists a state of matter in which the mass of the particles becomes negative.

According to Sci News, the researchers created negative mass particles from rubidium by cooling it down to almost absolute zero (minus 273.15 degrees Celsius). The ultra-cold temperature pushes the rubidium atoms into a zany state where they behave as a superfluid, i.e., does not lose energy while flowing. This distinctive state of matter is denoted as Bose-Einstein condensate.

Once there, the researchers applied laser to slow down the rubidium atoms and cool them down further. In such conditions, the fluid behaves as if it is held in a bowl that is merely 100 microns in diameter. At this point, a second laser treatment was given that exerted the spin orbit coupling effect and changed the spin direction of the rubidium atoms.

At this point, the researchers observed that the fluid can spill out of the micro bowl, and its direction of flow changes as if it is hit by an invisible wall. Further investigations led them to propose that the reason behind this contradictory behavior of the superfluid is due to the fact that it has attained negative mass, New Atlas reported.

The study was published in the Physical Review Letters journal. The article elaborated that this discovery could help in studying the hitherto unexplained mysterious forces of the universe.

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