Tag Archives | Quantum Physics

The Quantum Theory Of Smell

Do quantum vibrations determine how things smell? Are our noses detecting the secrets of the universe without our knowing? Via the BBC, the realm of the senses grows stranger:

A controversial theory that the way we smell involves a quantum physics effect has received a boost, following experiments with human subjects. It challenges the notion that our sense of smell depends only on the shapes of molecules we sniff in the air. Instead, it suggests that the molecules’ vibrations are responsible.

Molecules can be viewed as a collection of atoms on springs, so the atoms can move relative to one another. Energy of just the right frequency – a quantum – can cause the “springs” to vibrate, and in a 1996 paper [the theory’s creator] Dr. Lucia Turin said it was these vibrations that explained smell.

A way to test it is with two molecules of the same shape, but with different vibrations.

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Is Belief In Telepathy Unscientific?

Rigorous experiments seem to suggest that ESP and mental telepathy are real, yet these phenomena are rejected as hoaxes by mainstream science, because belief in mind reading would contradict the most basic laws of our understanding of reality. Or would it? Via Reality Sandwich, Chris Carter argues that telepathy and quantum physics go hand-in-hand:

Like Price and Hebb before them, both Wiseman and French hold that the claim of telepathy is so extraordinary that we need a greater level of evidence than we normally demand. Why should this be so? Most people believe in the reality of telepathy based on their own experiences, and are puzzled by the description of telepathy as “extraordinary.”

Psychologist James Alcock recently wrote that the claims of parapsychology “stand in defiance of the modern scientific worldview. That by itself does not mean that parapsychology is in error, but as the eminent neuropsychologist Donald Hebb pointed out, if the claims of parapsychology prove to be true, then physics and biology and neuroscience are horribly wrong in some fundamental respects.”

However, a number of leading physicists such as Henry Margenau, David Bohm, Brian Josephson, and Olivier Costra de Beauregard have repeatedly pointed out that nothing in quantum mechanics forbids psi phenomena.

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Why The Age Of Quantum Computing Is Nearer Than You Think

DPAG1998-Max-Planck-GesellschaftTrevor Quirk reports in the Christian Science Monitor that new research at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics shows quantum computing beginning to flirt with practical technology:

Tech-buffs, investors, IT industrialists, and boffins alike eagerly await the day when the science of quantum computing yields practical technology. Physicists of the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (MPQ), recently published research that, they believe, has brought that pivotal day closer.

For many years, physicists have sought to create an information network far superior to today’s by exploiting quantum phenomena. The team of German researchers have constructed the first vital component of such a network: a link between two atomic nodes over which information can be received, sent, and stored using a single photon. Successful exchanges of information recently took place in Garching, Germany, between two MPQ labs connected by a 60-meter fiber-optic cable. Though only a prototype, this rudimentary network could be scaled up to more complex and distanced quantum networks.

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There’s No Such Thing As Empty Space

sparkle03There’s always something, says a Swedish study. Phenomenica reports:

Scientists claim to have produced particles of light out of vacuum, proving that space is not empty.

An international team says that its ingenious experiment in which tiny parcels of light, or photons, are produced out of empty space has confirmed that a vacuum contains quantum fluctuations of energy, the ‘Nature’ journal reported.

In fact, the scientists have demonstrated for the first time a strange phenomenon known as the dynamical Casimir effect, or DCE for short.

The DCE involves stimulating the vacuum to shed some of the myriad “virtual” particles that fleet in and out of existence, making them real and detectable. Moreover, the real photons produced by the DCE in their experiment collectively retain a peculiar quantum signature that ordinary light lacks.

The research, led by Chris Wilson of Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, shows that a related dynamic effect can occur when such a mirror moves very fast through the vacuum.

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Physicists Create Heaviest Form of Antimatter Ever Seen

Smashing TimeStephen Battersby writes on New Scientist:
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.
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The World’s First ‘Quantum Device’

Albert_EinsteinThanks to Greg F. for sending along this story from the Belfast Telegraph:

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.

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Quantum Physics and Life After Death

Some food for thought on the after-life courtesy of Robert Lanza, MD, author of Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe, at Huffington Post:
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...
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Physicists Devise Way to Test Whether We’re Really Living in a Hologram

Hologram Universe?Interesting post from Sara Reardon in Symmetry (A joint Fermilab/SLAC publication):

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.

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Scientists Say It’s Nearly Time To Let Scotty Beam Us Up

Coming soon! Well maybe not that soon, but I’ll settle for just “coming”! Report from NPR:

“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.

The fictional teleportation machine used in the 'Star Trek.'

The fictional teleportation machine used in Star Trek.

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.

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Holy DARPA, Batman! Pentagon’s BaTMAN and RoBIN Projects Attempt to Master Biology

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:
Batman & Robin

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.

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.

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