Negative Excitation

Good morning at gym. Low density of folks. And the podcasts were passable, mostly end of year roll up types of things that are boring for those who have working memories – one more indication that science podcasts are mostly aimed at bogs!

One of the hot stories is a demonstration of negative temperatures in a magnetically perturbed system. [Link] The media is really being stupid about this one, prattling on and on about negative temperatures. They miss the point. We have known about negative temperatures since the time when I was an undergraduate. Lasers, and prior, masers, demonstrate this and are, to my knowledge, the source of the idea. What is important here is not that it’s a negative temperature, but that it’s in a magnetic system. Previously all the systems that have demonstrated this have been electrically or photonically perturbed/driven.

How do you get a negative temperature? Simple. In laser parlance it’s called a population inversion. On a nerdish level it’s when you whack the natural population of a (sorta) closed system so that the population of an “excited” state exceeds the population of an “unexcited” state that the  excited state can decay into. The bog analogy would be having a two story house with all the people on the second floor.

And while we’re on state populations, I read [Link] that Winders Ate has fewer people using it than Winders Vister. Evidently lots of licenses were bought by computer manufacturers for W8 computers that are growing dust on store and warehouse shelves. And since these are UEFI boxes it isn’t simple to repurpose them to run Linux. Ah!, but Linux doesn’t have the same security problems Winders has so you can just turn the security checking off. And blow away that install of W8 to install Ubuntu or some other useful distribution.

And at the risk of making a pun, apparently people aren’t too “excited” about W8?

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