In theory, Matter can possess negative mass. Just like electric charge can be negative or positive, matter can have negative mass. Scientists at Washington State University have created a fluid with ‘negative mass’ which when pushed – accelerates backwards.
Researchers point out that such an exclusive control provides them with a tool that will help them explore relationship between negative mass and the phenomenon observed in the cosmos such as neutron stars, black holes and dark energy, in conceptual depth.
Bose-Einstein condensate refers to a group of atoms cooled to such a low temperature that there is hardly any movement left in the group. When this occurs, all the atoms begin to clump together becoming identical in reference to the physical point of view; and the group functions like single atom.
When a particle is held just a little above absolute zero state (-273 degree C) and a Bose-Einstein condensate is created; particles move extremely slowly and follow a behavior as predicted by quantum mechanics and transmitted in the form of waves. These waves synchronize and move parallel in a so-called super fluid, which flows without losing any energy. While maintaining these conditions to acquire negative mass, researchers used lasers to trap the rubidium atoms and to kick them back and forth; disturbing the spin. When these atoms are released into a laser trap, they expanded while displaying traces of negative mass.
Co-author Michael Forbes, assistant professor of Physics at Washington State University says, “With negative mass, if a particle is pushed, it accelerates towards you. It looks like the rubidium is hitting an invisible wall. It also provides another environment to study a fundamental phenomenon that is very peculiar.”
The physicist explained that the ground breaking aspect of their research is to acquire exquisite control over negative mass using this technique. This has broadened the spectrum for researching black holes and dark energy, where performing experiments are impossible.