His manipulation of atoms chilled to near-absolute zero could help create high-temperature superconductors
By Martha HarbisonPosted 11.02.2010 at 4:30 pm 4 Comments
This year's Brilliant 10 honorees join the illustrious ranks of Marie Curie, Werner Heisenberg, Francis Crick and James Watson in proving that youth isn't always wasted on the young. Whether by virtue of their fresh perspective, their youthful energy or the simple desire every kid has to mess with stuff, these researchers have always been the sort of minds that improve our world. After all, they'll inherit it. Check out the rest of the Brilliant 10 honorees here.
Outside his lab at the Maryland campus of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, physicist Ian Spielman is enthusiastically talking about his recently published breakthrough in atomic physics. I'm trying to keep up. His research solved a decade-old problem that had stumped the best minds in the field. He explains to me that through the creative use of radio-frequency radiation and laser light, he made neutral atoms move as if they held an electric charge, manipulated by a magnetic field that didn't actually exist. I nod, mouth slightly ajar. What?