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No. 120: Nov-Dec 1998

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More Quantum Weirdness

You have probably already heard how a change in one subatomic particle can cause an instantaneous change in another, even if the second particle is cruising along in another galaxy. That's quantum weirdness all right, but this weirdness can also produce effects we can see and hear.

All you have to do is cool helium down to almost absolute zero. It will liquify but, unlike most other gases, it will not freeze. You are surprised at this, of course. Now, if you spin a bowl of this liquid helium around, you will be astounded. The liquid remains absolutely stationary in its spinning container -- no centrifugal effects, no friction with the contained wall, nada!.

However, the strangest part comes when you:

"Draw a cupful out of the bowl, suspend it a few centimeters above the remaining liquid, then stand back and rub your eyes -- the fluid in the cup will cheat common sense by pouring itself, drop by drop, back into the bowl. A drop climbs up the inside of the cup, then runs down the outside. When it falls, another begins climbing, and the magic continues until the cup is dry."

(Brooks, Michael; "Liquid Genius," New Scientist, p. 24, September 5, 1998.)

From Science Frontiers #120, NOV-DEC 1998. 1998-2000 William R. Corliss