In a gas that’s cold enough, the wavelets of matter we call atoms become long and shallow, lose their individuality and blend into one. At least, that’s what happens in a state of matter called a Bose-Einstein condensate. This computer simulation shows a pancake-shaped BEC cloud kept inside an electromagnetic trap and initially (upper left) divided into three parts. Removing the partitions unleashes three matter waves, which collide and interfere with one another (upper right). A honeycomb array of vortices appears for a few milliseconds (bottom left) before the orderly pattern breaks up into chaos (bottom right). --Davide Castelvecchi
Video courtesy of Gary Ruben/Monash Univ.
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