Traditional methods for cooling gases
to close to absolute zero work only
with a few of the elements.
Two novel techniques together can
cool down atoms of virtually any element,
even some molecules.
One of the techniques, which appears
to break the second law of thermodynamics,
is a physical realization of a
celebrated 1800s thought experiment
called Maxwell’s demon.
Applications range from studying the
properties of elementary particles
without expensive accelerators to separating
isotopes for their use in medicine