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In the early days of chemistry, finding out what happened when two or more chemicals were mixed together led to the development of all manner of new materials and to deriving useful events, such as the production of heat or light, or things exploding. As the science progressed however, researchers found they wanted to know more about what really goes on when chemicals react, but were unable to find out due to the massive number of interactions that occur during even the most ordinary chemical reactions. Nowadays, researchers want to delve even deeper, to discover what goes on at the quantum level. To that end, a team working at the Cavendish laboratory in Cambridge, UK has developed a way to monitor and control one of the most basic chemical reactions, the meeting of two dissimilar individual atoms. In their paper published in Nature Physics they describe how they were able to do so by setting up special experiments in a cold environment using a laser.

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