By Jim Pilgrim

January in Minnesota can be brutal. Last week I was cutting wood on my farm in the northern part of the state with my uncle. The high for the day was 0F and the low that night was -23F.

Cutting wood with my Stihl-Wood Boss chainsaw, knee deep snow in a river bottom, yes I enjoy that. That got me thinking about one of my other “hobbies”, physics.

I’ll bet most people think there are only 3 states of matter, Solid, Liquid, and Gas. Atoms at high temperatures form gases. If you cool the gas they become a liquid, cool the liquid and atoms become a solid. (Steam, Water, Ice)

Absolute Zero is measured on the Kelvin scale and it equals -460 Fahrenheit. At that temperature all atoms stop moving. And by the way, in physics, the Third Law of Thermodynamics says, you can never reach Absolute Zero.

I could bore you all with the details but I won’t. To simplify, if you can cool certain element’s atoms down to within one millionth of a degree above Absolute Zero you form a new state of matter called the Bose-Einstein Condensate. This was theorized in the 1920s by Albert Einstein and Satyendra Bose and was first accomplished in 1995 with rubidium atoms. They used laser cooling among other techniques to get the atoms down near absolute zero. Laser cooling you ask? Lasers create heat right? Yes and no, if you can finely tune the laser to a certain frequency, matched to the specific element’s atoms, with the right amount of power you can hit the atoms so they slow down, and get colder. When these atoms reach this new state all the atoms vibrate in unison, creating a “super” atom in“quantum coherence”, they act as one. This will someday soon lead to atomic lasers, and quantum computers, among other technological advancements. There is a physical limit to the computing speed of a silicon chip that we use in our computers today. At some point quantum computers will allow us to continue our thirst for more computing speed.

Now, if you will allow me a correlation.

As I approach 6 years with Clearfield, I can honestly say we have created a new type of company. We have a “family” coherence. Although we all know that our roles and duties are different, we get them done, and we act as one. Is it the cold Minnesota winters that bring us together in unison or the “atmosphere” we all create as we interact together? Maybe a little of both.