News & AnalysisCondensed-Matter Physics

Reprise of First Experiment Casts Doubt on Supersolid Helium

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Science  11 May 2012:
Vol. 336, Issue 6082, pp. 661
DOI: 10.1126/science.336.6082.661

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Nine years ago, two physicists reported that ultracold solid helium appeared to flow like the thinnest possible liquid, a bizarre phenomenon akin to rock salt slipping through a sieve. Since then, physicists have debated whether such "supersolidity" exists, with evidence piling up on both sides of the argument. Now, another duo has found further evidence that solid helium doesn't flow—ironically, by tweaking the experiment that started the controversy in the first place.