CREDIT: Lancaster University
For the first time, LEGO® has been cooled to the lowest temperature possible in an experiment, which reveals a new use for the popular toy.
Its special properties mean it could be useful in the development of quantum computing.
A world leading team of ultra-low temperature physicists at Lancaster University decided to place a LEGO® figure and four LEGO® blocks inside their record-breaking dilution refrigerator.
This machine—specially made at the university—is the most effective refrigerator in the world, capable of reaching 1.6 millidegrees above absolute zero (minus 273.15 Centigrade), which is about 200,000 times colder than room temperature and 2,000 times colder than deep space.
The results, published in the prestigious journal Scientific Reports, were surprising.
Dr. Dmitry Zmeev, who led the research team, said: “”Our results are significant because we found that the clamping arrangement between the LEGO® blocks causes the LEGO® structures to behave as an extremely good thermal insulator at cryogenic temperatures.
“This is very desirable for construction materials used for the design of future scientific equipment like dilution refrigerators.”
Invented 50 years ago, the dilution refrigerator is at the center of a global multi-billion dollar industry and is crucial to the work of modern experimental physics and engineering, including the development of quantum computers.
The use of ABS plastic structures, such as LEGO®, instead of the solid materials currently in use, means that any future thermal insulator could be produced at a significantly reduced cost.
Researchers say the next step is to design and 3D print a new thermal insulator for the next generation of dilution refrigerators.
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Manitoba company helps land Perseverance rover on Mars with high-speed camera – CBC.ca
It’s only about the size of a loaf of bread. But a high-speed, tough-as-nails camera created by a company in Minnedosa, Man., played an instrumental role in landing NASA’s Perseverance rover on Mars last week.
“You could run over it, it could fall, you could throw it out your window. That’s how tough they need to be,” Canadian Photonic Labs president Mark Wahoski said of the camera used in the monumental landing on Feb. 18.
His company, based in the southwestern Manitoba town — population around 2,500 — manufactures high-speed cameras for industrial, scientific and military markets, according to its website.
It took years to design the Perseverance camera in a way that would allow it to withstand the planet’s gravitational force — and snap images fast enough, Wahoski told host Marjorie Dowhos on CBC’s Radio Noon on Friday.
“It’s really hard to comprehend just how fast that is,” he said. “They go anywhere from normal, 30 frames per second — like your cellphone camera — all the way up to 250,000 frames per second.”
And the testing involved to make sure it’s up to the task before it gets sent into space is just as complex.
One of the simulations involved sending a metal sled with rocket engines strapped on top of it down a five-mile railroad bed in California, Wahoski said.
Another saw a helicopter lift a parachute, tied to that same rocket sled, up thousands of feet in the air before sending the sled down the track.
“On one of the tests, they determined they had to make this particular part stronger. So without those tests, the lander probably would not make it,” Wahoski said.
The Manitoba company’s relationship with NASA dates back roughly 15 years, he said — but much of the work that’s happened in that time has been cloaked in secrecy.
“A lot of it you can’t speak about…. You do the test and you do the support and you move on to the next project,” he said.
However, the attention around the Perseverance rover landing has been an exciting development, Wahoski said.
Once the landing finally happened, he said he had one word to describe how he felt: awesome.
“We had to just reflect back and say, ‘Oh gee, yeah, we did some of that.'”
NASA's Perseverance Rover Transmits to Earth from the Surface of Mars – UPI.com
NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover acquired this image during its descent to Mars, using its Descent Stage Down-Look Camera. This camera is mounted on the bottom of the descent stage and looks at the rover. This image was acquired on February 22, 2021 (Sol 1) at the local mean solar time of 10:37:31. A key objective for Perseverance’s mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will characterize the planet’s geology and past climate, paving the way for human exploration of the Red Planet and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith. NASA/UPI
SEE IT: moon-sized fireball shot through sky over Chatham-Kent – Chatham Daily News
Stargazers were treated to quite the show on Friday night with a giant fireball spotted in Chatham-Kent.
Peter Brown, Western University professor in the astronomy and physics department, posted on Twitter on Saturday morning that the fireball ended at approximately 30 km in height just north of Lake St. Clair near Fair Haven, Mich.
According to the NASA website, observers in Ontario, Michigan, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania reported the sighting at 10:07 p.m. EST.
“This event was captured by several all sky meteor cameras belonging to the NASA All Sky Fireball Network and the Southern Ontario Meteor Network operated by Western University,” it stated.
“A first analysis of the video data shows that the meteor appeared 90 km (56 miles) above Erieau on the northern shore of Lake Erie. It moved northwest at a speed of 105,800 kilometres per hour (65,800 miles per hour), crossing the U.S./Canada border before ablating 32 kilometres (20 miles) above Fair Haven, Mich.”
NASA stated the orbit of the object is “low inclination” and has an aphelion — defined as the point in the orbit of an object where it is farthest from the sun — near the orbit of Jupiter, and a perihelion — nearest to the sun — between the orbits of Mercury and Venus.
“It suggests that the meteor was caused by a fragment of a Jupiter family comet, though an asteroidal origin is also possible. At its brightest, the fireball rivalled the quarter moon in intensity. Combining this with the speed gives the fragment a mass of at least two kilograms and a diameter of approximately 12 centimetres (five inches).
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