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The surprise theory of everything - physics-math - 15 October 2012 - New Scientist - 1 views

    "Forget quantum physics, forget relativity. Inklings of an ultimate theory might emerge from an unexpected place

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Quantum magic trick shows reality is what you make it - physics-math - 22 June 2011 - N... - 2 views

    In 1967, Simon Kochen and Ernst Specker proved mathematically that even for a single quantum object, where entanglement is not possible, the values that you obtain when you measure its properties depend on the context. So the value of property A, say, depends on whether you chose to measure it with property B, or with property C. In other words, there is no reality independent of the choice of measurement.

    It wasn't until 2008, however, that Alexander Klyachko of Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey, and colleagues devised a feasible test for this prediction. They calculated that if you repeatedly measured five different pairs of properties of a quantum particle that was in a superposition of three states, the results would differ for the quantum system compared with a classical system with hidden variables.

    That's because quantum properties are not fixed, but vary depending on the choice of measurements, which skews the statistics. "This was a very clever idea," says Anton Zeilinger of the Institute for Quantum Optics, Quantum Nanophysics and Quantum Information in Vienna, Austria. "The question was how to realise this in an experiment."

    Now he, Radek Lapkiewicz and colleagues have realised the idea experimentally. They used photons, each in a superposition in which they simultaneously took three paths. Then they repeated a sequence of five pairs of measurements on various properties of the photons, such as their polarisations, tens of thousands of times.

    A beautiful experiment

    They found that the resulting statistics could only be explained if the combination of properties that was tested was affecting the value of the property being measured. "There is no sense in assuming that what we do not measure about a system has [an independent] reality," Zeilinger concludes.

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First 'living' laser made from kidney cell - physics-math - 12 June 2011 - New Scientist - 0 views

    It's not quite Cyclops, the sci-fi superhero from the X-Men franchise whose eyes produce destructive blasts of light, but for the first time a laser has been created using a biological cell.
    The human kidney cell that was used to make the laser survived the experience. In future such "living lasers" might be created inside live animals, which could potentially allow internal tissues to be imaged in unprecedented detail.
    It's not the first unconventional laser. Other attempts include lasers made of Jell-O and powered by nuclear reactors (see box below). But how do you go about giving a living cell this bizarre ability?
    Typically, a laser consists of two mirrors on either side of a gain medium - a material whose structural properties allow it to amplify light. A source of energy such as a flash tube or electrical discharge excites the atoms in the gain medium, releasing photons. Normally, these would shoot out in random directions, as in the broad beam of a flashlight, but a laser uses mirrors on either end of the gain medium to create a directed beam.
    As photons bounce back and forth between the mirrors, repeatedly passing through the gain medium, they stimulate other atoms to release photons of exactly the same wavelength, phase and direction. Eventually, a concentrated single-frequency beam of light erupts through one of the mirrors as laser light.
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Graphene may reveal the grain of space-time - physics-math - 13 May 2011 - New Scientist - 1 views

    COULD the structure of space and time be sketched out inside a cousin of plain old pencil lead? The atomic grid of graphene may mimic a lattice underlying reality, two physicists have claimed, an idea that could explain the curious spin of the electron.
    Graphene is an atom-thick layer of carbon in a hexagonal formation. Depending on its position in this grid, an electron can adopt either of two quantum states - a property called pseudospin which is mathematically akin to the intrinsic spin of an electron.
    Most physicists do not think it is true spin, but Chris Regan at the University of California, Los Angeles, disagrees. He cites work with carbon nanotubes (rolled up sheets of graphene) in the late 1990s, in which electrons were found to be reluctant to bounce back off these obstacles. Regan and his colleague Matthew Mecklenburg say this can be explained if a tricky change in spin is required to reverse direction. Their quantum model of graphene backs that up. The spin arises from the way electrons hop between atoms in graphene's lattice, says Regan.
    So how about the electron's intrinsic spin? It cannot be a rotation in the ordinary sense, as electrons are point particles with no radius and no innards. Instead, like pseudospin, it might come from a lattice pattern in space-time itself, says Regan. This echoes some attempts to unify quantum mechanics with gravity in which space-time is built out of tiny pieces or fundamental networks (Physical Review Letters, vol 106, p 116803).
    Sergei Sharapov of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine in Kiev says that the work provides an interesting angle on how electrons and other particles acquire spin, but he is doubtful how far the analogy can be pushed. Regan admits that moving from the flatland world of graphene to higher-dimensional space is tricky. "It will be interesting to see if there are other lattices that give emergent spin," he says.
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Ethereal quantum state stored in solid crystal - physics-math - 12 January 2011 - New S... - 0 views

    ETHEREAL quantum entanglement has been captured in solid crystals, showing that it is more robust than once assumed. These entanglement traps could make quantum computing and communication more practical.

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Curious mathematical law is rife in nature - physics-math - 14 October 2010 - New Scien... - 0 views

    WHAT do earthquakes, spinning stellar remnants, bright space objects and a host of other natural phenomena have in common? Some of their properties conform to a curious and little known mathematical law, which could now find new uses.
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