Light buffet: Entanglement, warp drives, and slower beams

Tom Marcinko @ 14-08-2008

star-gate-openResearchers in Geneva are trying to figure the speed of quantum entanglement, aka “the fact that measuring a property of one particle instantly determines the property of another…” Experiments with photons 18 km apart suggest that entanglement “moves” at least 10,000 times the speed of light. “I think there’s probably much deeper issues,” comments one of their British colleagues. [SciAm]

Meanwhile, to propel your starship by real-life warp drive, two Baylor U. physicists say you can too change the laws of physics. Just bend the space around the ship by recreating conditions that existed when the universe was expanding, and light moved faster than it does today. All we need is 11 dimensions a la string theory, and a mass the size of Jupiter to convert to pure energy. And we thought an invisibility cloak was impressive. [io9; Discovery News; preprint]

Back in this millennium, bulky, expensive, and complicated electronic routers are slowing down the Internet. A possible solution: slow down light itself, through the use of “metamaterials” to do away with all that tedious mucking about during the switching process.

“With these materials, you could imagine something more like a single chip with the metamaterial handling the routing—all the capability of one of these big filtering systems, but the size of your fingernail,” says Dr [Chris] Stevens [of Oxford].

[image: Star Gate by Imbecillsallad]

Does order underlie quantum chaos?

Tom Marcinko @ 11-08-2008

chaos-cafeA week without a dose of quantum weirdness? I don’t think so. University of Utah physicists say they’ve found hints that Newtonian-based chaos theory might have something to do with how subatomic particles behave.  Nuclei have a property akin to charge called “spin,” and Utah prof Brian Saam and team zapped xenon atoms to see what happens to that property.

Despite differing initial configurations, the “dances” of the xenon spins evolved so they eventually were in sync with each other…. As an analogy, imagine billions of people in a huge, unfamiliar city. They start walking around in different places and directions, with little conversation among them. Yet, eventually, they all end up walking in the same direction.

Comments Saam: “”That’s never been seen before in a quantum mechanical system. These guys are dancing together.” So? “When you look at all the technology governed by quantum physics, it’s not unreasonable to assume that if one can apply chaos theory in a meaningful way to quantum systems, that will provide new insights, new technology, new solutions to problems not yet known.”

[Chaos Cafe by St_A_Sh]

‘Ghost’ Photos through Quantum Physics

Tom Marcinko @ 01-07-2008

toysoldierScientists funded by the Air Force have used quantum entanglement — in which pairs of particles continue to interact even after they are spatially separated — to snap this picture of a tin solider without aiming a camera directly at the object.  The technique, called “ghost imaging,” has potential military or space applications, such as using aerial drones to survey of battlefields obscured by clouds, or the smoke that follows airstrikes.  Yanhua Shih, who has been experimenting with entangled photons since 1995, says:

“…[T]he image is not formed from light that hits the object and bounces back. The camera collects photons from the light sources that did not hit the object, but are paired through a quantum effect with others that did. An image of the toy begins to appear after approximately a thousand pairs of photons are recorded.”

These are exciting times on the frontiers of physics. Researchers in Copenhagen took a step towards producing a quantum bit. And scientists at Arizona State are trying to figure out how electrons interact. Both are necessary steps towards building superfast quantum computers.

[Image: University of Maryland]

Entangled Up in Blue: Quantum Images

Tom Marcinko @ 14-06-2008

quantum-catsResearchers at the Commerce Department’s Joint Quantum Institute (JQI) and the University of Maryland have used laser beams to produce less “noisy” images, according to Science Express via Science Daily. The experiment could lead to better computers and information-storage. The images are born in pairs, “like twins separated at birth,” at slightly different frequencies. None of that is necessarily weird, but:

Look at one quantum image, and it displays random and unpredictable changes over time. Look at the other image, and it exhibits very similar random fluctuations at the same time, even if the two images are far apart and unable to transmit information to one another. They are “entangled”–their properties are linked in such a way that they exist as a unit rather than individually.

The photo-montage of quantum cats is made from color-treated images used in the experiment. The lines suggest how entanglement occurs. What else could we do with quantum entanglement? It would be fun to make entangled drawings or paintings.

[Image: Vincent Boyer/JQI]

Recordings found of physicist who predicted Multiverse (and fathered indie legend)

Tomas Martin @ 26-11-2007

You may know about Eels, but did you know the singer’s father was a famous physicist?Hugh Everett was a quantum physicist. In 1957, as a 24 year old graduate student at Princeton, Everett produced a theory that there was a multiverse made up of many universes. In Quantum Physics a particle can be in two places at once, until it is observed (the famous Schrodinger’s Cat problem). Everett supposed that instead of the other option disappearing, the universe splits into two.

Nowadays the idea is fairly well accepted, with multiple universes popping up in science fiction like ‘Sliders’ and Ian McDonald’s excellent latest novel, ‘Brasyl’. Back when Everett first came up with it, the theory was widely ignored for two decades.

Recently, new tapes have been found of Everett talking about his theory in 1977. BBC found the tapes whilst making a documentary with Everett’s son, who also happens to be rather famous – Mark Everett is ‘E’, lead singer of eclectic indie band Eels. The documentary follows ‘E’ trying to understand better his father’s work. It premieres on BBC4 tonight.

[via the Guardian, image of Eels album cover via Wikipedia]

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