What really matters?
Just when you think that things can’t get any weirder, quantum physics threw us (yet another) curve ball: there may be a brand new form of matter governed by an entirely new branch of physics.
Back in 1970, a young physicist working in the Soviet Union made a counterintutive prediction. Vitaly Efimov, now at the University of Washington in the US, showed that quantum objects that cannot form into pairs could nevertheless form into triplets.
In 2006, a group in Austria found the first example of such a so-called Efimov state in a cold gas of cesium atoms.
That’s puzzling. Surely the bonds that hold triplets together are the same as those that bind pairs. Actually, no! It turns out that there is a subtle but important difference that makes these bonds completely different…