Follycon Notebook 6+7

(back to pages 4 and 5)

Nature Futures is a really cool page of science fiction ideas written by scientists.

This is me thinking about that “science in science fiction” panel. Thinking about alternate history as a tool to teach real history. AND THEN a seed that may really grow into a story: a story about a new scientific discovery, and people trying to turn it into technologies. Entrepreneurs of the future! At the moment, my wife (an entrepreneur) is turning the idea into a semi-autobiographical story.

But what about the technology?

That’s when I happened to sit next to Dr. Ana Rakonjac, an atomic physicist and Durham University, studying Bose-Einstein Condensates. Some of those diagrams are hers.

The point is that every atom in a Bose-Einstein condensate has to be in phase with every other atom. When the BEC is perturbed (the way Rakonjac’s team does this is to swirl the BEC in magnetic fields “like swirling wine in a glass”) wave functions change, cancel each other out (uh, I think?) and you get a vortex in the center, like the eye of a hurricane. The weird thing is that when you speed up that spin, two half-sized vorteces form. Spin it faster, and you get more, tiner holes, stacked next to each other like cells in a honeycomb.

So what? As of now, there aren’t many practical applications for BECs. They’re mostly used for research, because they’re good models for electrons and other things that are two small to measure. But with a BEC, you can just point a camera at it and take pictures (PDF). Anyway, BECs are, like, super hard to make.

But what if they weren’t? What if the groundbreaking new technology in my wife’s story was a way to make a room-temperature BEC (a RooTeBEC, if you will). What good would that do you? I made some speculations at the bottom of the page:

spin up the BEC so fast that it creates vorteces that the size of positrons? Then you could stop the mutual annihilation of virtual particles and GENERATE ANTIMATER!! (thunderclap!)

Or spin the BEC even faster so the vorteces are the size of electrons. You capture electrons that will then be released when the spinning stops. Bam. Eency Weency batteries.

Or maybe wormholes? eh? Those are nice.

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