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Magnetic fields trapped sodium atoms (small spot at the top) which were used as a source of laserlike atoms. Short pulses of radiofrequency radiation ejected an adjustable fraction of the atoms. These atoms formed a beam which were pulled down by gravity. Every 5 thousandths of a second, a new pulse was created. The image, with a field of view of 2.5 mm by 5 mm, shows several pulses in succession. The curved shape of the pulses was caused by gravity and the forces between atoms. (Figure courtesy Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
This research is described in Physical Review Letters 78, 582 (27 January 1997).