Scientists have figured out how to heat water to 600 degrees C in one trillionth of a second.

And yes, while it seems like a belated bid to get on our list of ridiculous science moments of 2013, it's real research with real implications.

German researchers at DESY describe in a new paper their theoretical technique to transfer energy to water in the fastest way ever conceived.

The idea is to essentially bombard water with intense bursts of terehertz radiation, described as electromagnetic waves with a wavelength somewhere between microwaves and infrared light.

The water will heat almost instantly, and retain its original density for at least a milisecond before it flies apart. That amount of time might sound short, but it's actually a pretty long time in scientific terms, giving researchers the ability to use the heat to trigger other chemical reactions and note their results.

The technique could enable new experiments into how heat affects different molecules, and how those short reactions occur.

"The idea is to heat-up the 'solvent' so that many molecules start the desired chemical process at the same time and then watch the reaction evolve," said DESY scientist Dr. Oriol Vendrell.

"The transient and hot environment achieved by the terahertz pulse could have interesting properties, like a matrix to study activated chemical processes."

The researchers are now looking to carry out their experiments for real - a task which should be possible once the new European X-ray Free-Electron Laser facility is complete in 2015.

But no, a commercial application of the tech inside a new kettle is not likely.

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  • Russia Has A Space Army - But It's Not Ready To Fight Aliens

    Russia said that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/10/04/russian-space-army_n_4042456.html">its space army</a>, which <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/10/04/russian-space-army_n_4042456.html"> actually exists</a>, is doing pretty well thank you very much. But no, it isn't currently able to repel an alien invasion. "We are unfortunately not ready to fight extraterrestrial civilizations," said deputy chief of the Titov Main Test and Space Systems Control Centre Sergey Berezhnoy. "There are too many problems on Earth and near it."

  • This Frog Photobombed A NASA Space Launch

    Nasa l<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/09/12/frog-nasa-photobomb-rocket_n_3911828.html?utm_hp_ref=uk-tech" target="_blank">aunched the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer spacecraft back in September</a>, and while the £180 million craft is actually a pretty interesting scientific instrument, the launch itself was totally overshadowed by the fact that a frog managed to Photobomb the moment of lift-off <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/09/12/frog-nasa-photobomb-rocket_n_3911828.html?utm_hp_ref=uk-tech" target="_blank">with this frankly unbelievably well-timed dive into legend.</a>

  • The Universe Could Have Already Started Collapsing

    "Maybe the collapse has already started somewhere in the universe and right now it is eating its way into the rest of the universe. Maybe a collapse is starting right now right here. Or maybe it will start far away from here in a billion years." <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/12/13/universe-collapse-phase-transition_n_4437807.html" target="_blank">That is an actual quote</a> from Colding Krog, University of Southern Denmark, after the news that a phase transition in the value of the Higgs Field could tear apart reality <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/12/13/universe-collapse-phase-transition_n_4437807.html" target="_blank">might have already started.</a>

  • Nasa Drew A Penis On Mars

    While attempting to find signs of life on our nearest alien planet, Nasa <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/04/24/mars-rover-penis-nasa_n_3144656.html">"accidentally"</a> drew a penis on Mars. It was objectively hilarious, even if it was also totally unavoidable.

  • The Universe Is A Simulation

    This year we learned that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/10/11/physicists-may-have-evide_n_1957777.html"> physicists might have evidence that the universe is a computer simulation</a>. The team at University of Bonn in Germany wrote in their paper, 'Constraints on the Universe as a Numerical Simulation', that that current simulations of the universe - which do exist, but which are extremely weak and small - naturally put limits on physical laws. And those limits are pretty similar to those in our own universe. None of you freaked out when we told you that. Oh no, wait, like 298,000 of you did.

  • A Train In Japan Travelled At 311 Miles Per Hour

    It's no <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/08/13/elon-musk-hyperloop-uk-design_n_3747385.html">hyperloop</a>. But <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/08/30/super-bullet-train-test_n_3843685.html">it's not bad.</a>

  • A Town In Norway Built Three Massive Mirrors To Reflect Sunlight During Dark Winter Months

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/10/24/norwegian-town-three-massive-mirrors-sunlight-_n_4154074.html">The town of Rjukan is home to 3,500 people who don't get enough sun during winter.</a> So naturally they took it upon themselves to build three enormous mirrors to reflect sun back onto the town at a cost of £523,400.

  • An Astronaut Fought A Robot In Space

    Among the various nice things which happened on the International Space Station this year, including <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/science/video/2013/may/13/hadfield-david-bowie-space-oddity-video">a friendly Canadian singing David Bowie covers</a>, there was also a fair amount of deadly violence and bloodshed. Alright, not really. But if this picture is to be believed, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/04/24/astronaut-vs-robonaut-2-o_n_3146113.html?utm_hp_ref=uk-tech">at least one astronaut had a fight with a robot</a>.

  • Two Australians Had Sex (Or Didn't) On Street View

    This image, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/04/11/australian-couple-sex-google-street-view_n_3058977.html">captured from Google Street View</a> pictures taken on Dukes Highway in Keith, South Australia, shows a couple either (a) having a very good day unaware that the Google car was driving past or (b) having a very good day at Google's expense. Either way, it is a very funny picture which only technology was able to provide.

  • There's A Big Asteroid Which Might Hit Earth In 2032

    This year was marked not only <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/10/18/asteroid-2013-tv135-hit-e_n_4120490.html">by terrifying predictions of big rocks from space</a> which might hit us in 2032, but <a href="www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/02/15/russian-meteor-conspiracy_n_2694031.html">by actual space rocks which did hit us</a> (specifically Chelyabinsk in Russia) in 2013. Luckily, on the former Nasa is pretty convinced we're safe for now. "The current probability of no impact in 2032 [is] about 99.998 percent," said Don Yeomans, manager of Nasa's Near-Earth Object Program Office."This is a relatively new discovery. With more observations, I fully expect we will be able to significantly reduce, or rule out entirely, any impact probability for the foreseeable future."

  • Someone Kinda Found Han Solo Frozen In Carbonite On Mercury

    This thing - which really, really looks like Han Solo frozen in Carbonite but WHICH IS NOT Han Solo frozen in Carbonite <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/09/20/han-solo-mercury_n_3959937.html">was found on the surface of Mercury this year.</a>

  • Area 51 Actually Exists

    This was the year that the American government <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/08/16/area-51-exists_n_3765873.html" target="_blank">finally admitted that Area 51</a> - the almost mythical military 'UFO facility' - actually exists. True, they explicitly denied anything to do with aliens is actually going on there - but surely it's only a matter of time? The released documents said: <blockquote>"President Eisenhower also approved the addition of this strip of wasteland, known by its map designation as Area 51, to the Nevada Test Site. The outlines of Area 51 are shown on current unclassified maps as a small rectangular area adjoining the northeast corner of the much larger Nevada Test Site."</blockquote>

  • The Earth Is More Beautiful Than You Ever Realised

    This is the 'Green Marble' - <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/06/21/green-marble-earth-nasa_n_3478261.html" target="_blank">a new visualisation of all of the vegetation on Earth</a>, made by Nasa this year to celebrate the fact that it <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/10/18/asteroid-2013-tv135-hit-e_n_4120490.html" target="_blank">hasn't yet been totally devastated by another asteroid.</a>

  • Scientists Accidentally Invented An 'Impossible Material' Called Upsalite

    Researchers at Uppsala University in Sweden apparently <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/08/14/upsalite-impossible-material_n_3753742.html" target="_blank">left an experiment running over a weekend</a> - by mistake - only to return to their work to find they had solved a century-old problem. The result of their - well, not quite 'work'… - is "Upsalite", a material that has remarkable abilities to bind water, and could be used in <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/08/14/upsalite-impossible-material_n_3753742.html" target="_blank">everything from air conditioning units to chemical manufacturing.</a>

  • Parkour Hit New Heights Of Insane Thanks To GoPro

    GoPro's heads-up cameras got even better - twice - this year, thanks to the release of the Hero 3 and Hero 3+. At which point a man named <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/07/01/james-kingston-cambridge-parkour_n_3527557.html">James Kingston</a> went out in Cambridge and risked his life in a totally reckless way in the name of collecting cool footage.

  • Someone Lost $4.6 Million Of Bitcoin In Wales

    Bitcoin got very popular this year - primarily because it also got very valuable (and then cheap, and then valuable again, and then cheap again). Unfortunately for one man, the rise in value also led to a rise in his blood pressure, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/11/27/bitcoin-buried-wales-46-million_n_4350267.html">after it was revealed he managed to bury £4.6 million worth in this landfill in Wales</a>.

  • Bill Gates Apologised For CTRL-ALT-DELTE

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/09/26/bill-gates-ctrl-alt-delete_n_3995267.html" target="_blank">At last.</a>

  • Robots Can Solve Rubik's Cubes In Less Than One Second

    A video released by robotics researchers this year proved that our android masters have finally beaten us at every useful job in the world, and are now <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/09/30/rubiks-cube-one-second-robot_n_4015284.html" target="_blank">turning their mind to humiliating us at pointless 1980s fads in order to pass the time.</a>

  • The First Plane Flew Over The UK Without A Pilot

    This is a picture of a plane. A plane which made a complete flight over the UK while its pilots <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/05/14/first-pilotless-flight-ov_n_3270749.html" target="_blank">sat and did nothing, because it's a robot, and that's terrifying, but science.</a>

  • It's Possible To See Your Brainwaves

    Stare at the pinwheel for a few seconds then look at a spot slightly away from it. You should be able to see the centre of the pinwheel flicker when it's in your peripheral vision. Only this is more than just a pretty effect - Rodika Sokoliuk and Rufin VanRullen from the University of Toulouse told us this year that this is actually <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/08/22/optical-illusion-brain-waves_n_3794108.html">a representation of your brainwaves.</a>

  • The Sun's Polarity Can Flip (And Is About To)

    This year we learned that the Sun's entire magnetic field is on the verge of flipping over. Scientists are convinced the source of all life on Earth will shortly reverse polarity, an event that will be felt throughout the entire solar system. But don't worry - this is a regular occurrence, happening over a few months every 11 years or so.