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December 31 2012

Physicist's research may lead to more precise measurements of time


Tanya Zelevinsky's Pupin Hall lab is home to a sprawling contraption of gangly wires, metal pipes and chambers, and flashing lights. Inside a container that opens up like a porthole is a glowing blue dot—a cloud of a million atoms cooled to nearly absolute zero, or close to minus 460 degrees Fahrenheit, eight orders of magnitude below room temperature.

"I can safely say this is the coldest point in New York City," says Zelevinsky, an assistant professor of physics who may know more about cold than most people—she was born in Siberia.

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