Jason Koebler writes Researchers at Columbia University and Sweden's Chalmers University of Technology say that they have, for the first time, "captured" the sound a single atom makes when it is excited—a single "phonon," as it were. So, why do this? For one, the team wanted to simply see if it could capture the softest sound ever made, which is certainly a noble goal. But, secondly, the researchers wanted to explore the quantum nature of sound. Photons have always been used in quantum experiments, but they're pretty hard to manipulate because they're so fast. Phonons move 10^5 slower and thus could make quantum communication easier.