German researchers have shown that bombarding high-pressure gas with a laser can produce dramatic cooling, dropping the temperature as much as 66 degrees Celsius (about 119 degrees Fahrenheit) in a matter of seconds.
The researchers say laser cooling of dense gases could work as a new kind of refrigeration, and might even be able to achieve temperatures close to absolute zero. They reported their findings Wednesday in Nature.
In terms of cold fronts, the one that hit here on the 11th of November 1911 (how auspicious can you get?) was pretty dramatic: a drop of 66 degrees Fahrenheit (37 Celsius). This set a record low for the date, which is made even more remarkable by the fact that the record high for the date was set that morning. (High 83°F, low 17°F; no November 11th since has matched it at either end.)
Laboratory work is wondrous enough, but we civilians want practical applications. For example:
[I]t would be great to be able to go buy pop, bring it home and put it in my fast laser refrigerator and have a nice cold one in just a minute or two. I’m not holding my breath though. I’m betting this will be something strictly for the boys in the lab for a long, long time. On the other hand, if it turns out to be more “environmentally friendly” maybe they will rush it to the market. We can dream right?
I have my doubts, but I figure I have, in this very room, at least two dozen items that I couldn’t possibly have imagined thirty years ago, none of them particularly expensive.