A newly created form of antimatter is the heaviest and most complex anti-thing ever seen. Anti-helium nuclei, each containing two anti-protons and two anti-neutrons, have been created and detected at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) in Upton, New York. Anti-particles have the opposite electrical charge to ordinary matter particles (anti-neutrons, which are electrically neutral, are made up of antiquarks that have the opposite charge to their normal quark counterparts). They annihilate on contact with matter, making them notoriously tricky to find and work with. Until recently, the most complex unit of antimatter ever seen was the counterpart of the helium-3 nucleus, which contains two protons and one neutron. But experiments at RHIC are changing that. RHIC collides heavy atomic nuclei such as lead and gold to form microscopic fireballs, where energy is so densely packed that many new particles can be created.
Tag Archives | Quantum Physics
Thanks to Greg F. for sending along this story from the Belfast Telegraph:
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A device that exists in two different states at the same time, and coincidentally proves that Albert Einstein was right when he thought he was wrong, has been named as the scientific breakthrough of the year.
The machine, consisting of a sliver of wafer-thin metal, is the first man-made device to be governed by the mysterious quantum forces that operate at the level of atoms and sub-atomic particles.
Normal, everyday objects obey the laws of conventional Newtonian physics, named after Sir Isaac Newton, but these rules break down on the sub-atomic scale and a whole new branch of theoretical physics had to be invented to explain what happens on this sub-microscopic level.
Einstein was the first to embrace quantum physics but later rejected it on the grounds that it made everything unpredictable – “God does not play dice with the universe,” he famously stated.
When I was young, I stayed at my neighbor's house. They had a grandfather clock. Between the tick and the tock of the pendulum, I lay awake thinking about the perverse nature of time. Mr. O'Donnell is gone now. His wife Barbara, now in her nineties, greets me with her cane when I go back to visit. We watch our loved ones age and die, and we assume that an external entity called time is responsible for the crime. But experiments increasingly cast doubt on the existence of time as we know it. In fact, the reality of time has long been questioned by philosophers and physicists. When we speak of time, we're usually referring to change. But change isn't the same thing as time. To measure anything's position precisely is to "lock in" on one static frame of its motion, as in a film. Conversely, as soon as you observe movement, you can't isolate a frame, because motion is the summation of many frames. Sharpness in one parameter induces blurriness in the other. Consider a film of a flying arrow that stops on a single frame. The pause enables you to know the position of the arrow with great accuracy: it's 20 feet above the grandstand. But you've lost all information about its momentum. It's going nowhere; its path is uncertain. Numerous experiments confirm that such uncertainty is built into the fabric of reality. Heisenberg's uncertainty principle is a fundamental concept of quantum physics. However, it only makes sense from a biocentric perspective...
Interesting post from Sara Reardon in Symmetry (A joint Fermilab/SLAC publication):
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In 2008, Fermilab particle astrophysicist Craig Hogan made waves with a mind-boggling proposition: The 3D universe in which we appear to live is no more than a hologram. Now he is building the most precise clock of all time to directly measure whether our reality is an illusion.
The idea that spacetime may not be entirely smooth — like a digital image that becomes increasingly pixelated as you zoom in – had been previously proposed by Stephen Hawking and others. Possible evidence for this model appeared last year in the unaccountable “noise” plaguing the GEO600 experiment in Germany, which searches for gravitational waves from black holes. To Hogan, the jitteriness suggested that the experiment had stumbled upon the lower limit of the spacetime pixels’ resolution.
Black hole physics, in which space and time become compressed, provides a basis for math showing that the third dimension may not exist at all.
Coming soon! Well maybe not that soon, but I’ll settle for just “coming”! Report from NPR:
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“Quantum entanglement” may sound like an awful sci-fi romance flick, but it’s actually a phenomenon that physicists say may someday lead to the ability to teleport an object all the way across the galaxy instantly.
It’s not exactly the Star Trek version of teleportation, where an object disappears then reappears somewhere else. Rather, it “entangles” two different atoms so that one atom inherits the properties of another.
“According to the quantum theory, everything vibrates,” theoretical physicist Michio Kaku tells NPR’s Guy Raz. Kaku is a frequent guest on the Science and Discovery channels. “When two electrons are placed close together, they vibrate in unison. When you separate them, that’s when all the fireworks start.”
This is where quantum entanglement — sometimes described as “teleportation” — begins.
Who knew that reading comic books or watching the classic ’60s Batman TV show would lead to this? Katie Drummond writes in WIRED’s Danger Room:
The Pentagon’s blue-sky research arm has outdone itself this time. Darpa’s got two new projects that are ambitious in scope, even by their standards. So maybe that explains why the agency opted to enlist some awesomely bad superhero acronyms to characterize the way-out endeavors.
At least, that’s the best explanation Danger Room can come up with. Because it’s tough to see a connection between the fundamental nature of time, biological design … and Gotham City’s Caped Crusader and Boy Wonder.
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Leave it up to the prodigious acronym artists at the Pentagon — responsible for gems like RESURRECT, NIRVANA and DUDE — to go for it anyway. Darpa’s launching Biochronicity and Temporal Mechanisms Arising in Nature (BaTMAN), in an effort to better understand “the spatio-temporal universe,” and, from there, “transform biology from a descriptive to a predictive field of science.”
It’s an area the Darpa’s been exploring for years, especially when it comes to quantum effects in nature.
Tracie McDaniel reports that Chinese researchers are using quantum physics to “teleport” photons across 10 miles of empty space, for DailyTech:
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China has been taking a beating in the U.S. press lately. the Chinese company Foxxconn has experienced problems with employees committing suicide, the country has not warmed up to U.S. greenhouse gas cut initiatives and has placed a ban on internet maps and satellite imaging. However, the country can be commended for its latest effort — achieving quantum teleportation.
Scientists at the University of Science and Technology of China and Tsinghua University were able to stream quantum information over 16 km of free space, approximately 10 miles. It’s called teleportation, but the matter is not actually moved, instead the quantum state of an object is transferred to another (when something is done to the first object, it immediately happens to the second one).
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At extremely low temperatures atoms can aggregate into so-called Bose Einstein condensates forming coherent laser-like matter waves. Due to interactions between the atoms fundamental quantum dynamics emerge and give rise to periodic collapses and revivals of the matter wave field.
A group of scientists led by Professor Immanuel Bloch (Chair of Experimental Physics at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU) and Director of the Quantum Many Body Systems Division at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics in Garching) has now succeeded to take a glance ‘behind the scenes’ of atomic interactions revealing the complex structure of these quantum dynamics. By generating thousands of miniature BECs ordered in an optical lattice the researchers were able to observe a large number of collapse and revival cycles over long periods of time.
The research is published in the journal Nature.
The experimental results imply that the atoms do not only interact pairwise — as typically assumed — but also perform exotic collisions involving three, four or more atoms at the same time.
As nature’s own solar cells, plants convert sunlight into energy via photosynthesis. New details are emerging about how the process is able to exploit the strange behavior of quantum systems, which could lead to entirely novel approaches to capturing usable light from the sun. All photosynthetic organisms use protein-based “antennas” in their cells to capture incoming light, convert it to energy and direct that energy to reaction centers — critical trigger molecules that release electrons and get the chemical conversion rolling. These antennas must strike a difficult balance: they must be broad enough to absorb as much sunlight as possible yet not grow so large that they impair their own ability to shuttle the energy on to the reaction centers. This is where quantum mechanics becomes useful. Quantum systems can exist in a superposition, or mixture, of many different states at once. What’s more, these states can interfere with one another — adding constructively at some points, subtracting at others. If the energy going into the antennas could be broken into an elaborate superposition and made to interfere constructively with itself, it could be transported to the reaction center with nearly 100 percent efficiency.