Scientists Use Extreme Engineering to Create Test Rooms With Perfect Stillness
For the world's most sensitive experiments, even the slightest gravitational wave is an issue. So researchers have created the stillest rooms in the world known to drive people crazy.
Extreme stillness, although irritating, lets us run some of our most sensitive experiments like on the atomic scale. Perfect stillness is not just about being perfectly quiet, it also needs to be electromagnetically shielded, vibration-free and very cool.
Why would this be desired? For experiments on the tiniest of scales. Imagine research at the atomic scale, let's say with an attempt to capture an image of a single atom. To complete it you need to make sure there are no physical vibrations whatsoever or you will experience a blurry image.
In addition, even your test subject, the single atom, requires perfect stillness. At such a minuscule scale, even the slightest temperature fluctuation or EM field can fill the atom with enough energy to start moving around at its own will.
One solution for perfect stillness is a deep extremely specialized underground bunker such as the one found in IBM Research's 2011 Binnig and Rohrer Nanotechnology Center in Zurich in Rüschlikon.
The incredible center cost about $90 million to build and is now in use by both IBM and ETH Zurich, particularly for nanoscale studies. Before you think the bunker may be an ideal quiet meditation retreat, it should be noted that the extreme quietness of these rooms has been known to drive people crazy.
It has been reported that most cannot stand these rooms for more than a few minutes or even seconds-- some have said you can hear your own blood flow. Think about that the next time you complain about your noisy city!