Scientists at Washington State University (WSU) have created what likely sounds like the impossible, a fluid with negative mass. What that exactly mean? A move of the fluids counters to the laws of physics. Yes, it is weird as it sounds. However, negative mass is theoretically possible and finally achieved in the lab.
Conditions for negative mass
As we know, every physical object has its (positive) mass and moves in a certain, expected way. It moves forwards. In other words, mass accelerates in the direction of the force. That’s because of the Second Law of Motion – force equals an object’s mass times its acceleration. Still, scientists debated for decades about theoretical possibility that matter should be able to have negative mass also. The matter with such a mass would have strange features like act in the opposite way when you push it.
To achieve matter’s behavior as it has a negative mass, physicists had to create conditions appropriate to that. So, they created a fluid by cooling rubidium atoms to just above absolute zero, producing what is known as a Bose-Einstein condensate. In this state, particles are very slow and behave like waves. As they also synchronize and flow without losing energy, the particles form what’s known as a superfluid.
After creation of superfluid and its trap in a tiny bowl-like field, researchers used lasers to kick the atoms back and forth. In this way, atoms changed the way they spin. Instead of forwards, they moved backward. The negative mass effect has been achieved.
Achieving negative mass and its effects presumably are meaningful for understanding the universe. This remarkable new finding will provide a significant analogous Earth-based system to study astrophysical phenomena, ranging from the fluid dynamics of space that generate dark energy effects, to the event horizons of black holes.
More research will need to be done to confirm the conclusions of the experiment, but assuming everything checks out, the possible creation of stuff with negative mass could have mind-bending consequences.