quantum mechanics

Practical Steps Toward a Quantum Propulsion Machine

An Israeli scientist has proposed a way to build a quantum propulsion machine by pushing on the electromagnetic fields within a quantum vacuum, generating a force that, theoretically, could be harnessed. Sounds simple enough, right? But leaving the complex jargon of quantum mechanics aside, the implications are pretty amazing.

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Revitalized LHC Manages to Collide Protons

After 14 years of work and $5.5 billion, the LHC has survived faulty magnets, avian sabotage, and the threat of malevolent time travelers to finally collided its first particles.

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Scientists Test First Universal Programmable Quantum Computer

Quantum computing uses spooky physics to run faster and more powerfully than traditional computers

Physicists have been taking baby steps toward creating a full-fledged quantum computer faster and more powerful than any computer in existence, by making quantum processors capable of performing individual tasks. Now a group at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has developed the world's first universal programmable quantum computer that can run any program that's possible under the rules of quantum mechanics.

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Newly Discovered Magnetic Monopole Particles Flow Like Electric Currents

They're calling it "magnetricity" -- catchy, eh?

Dy2Ti2O7: This rare, "spin ice", crystal contains the atomic monopoles needed to create magnetricity.  via Muon Science Laboratory
In 1931, physicist Paul Dirac hypothesized that on the quantum level, magnetic charge must exist in discrete packets, or quanta, in the same way that electric energy exists in a photon. This implies the existence of magnetic monopoles: particles that have a single magnetic charge, or polar identity -- north or south.

For 78 years, Dirac's speculation interested only hardcore theorists, because the conjecture failed to find any expression in observed phenomena. All magnets had two poles, one north and one south, inextricably attached to each other.

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Electron Microscopes Powered by Quantum Mechanics Could See Through Living Cells

Electron microscopes are great and all, but the problem is that you can't use them to get up close and personal inside a living cell without killing it. That might change, however, as scientists are working to use quantum mechanics to overcome this obstacle.

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Is Quantum Mechanics Selectively Erasing Our Memory?

In a paper published last week, MIT physicist Lorenzo Maccone hypothesizes that, yes, quantum physics is messing with our minds. The laws of physics work just as well if time is running forwards or backwards. But we all seem to experience time running in only one direction, and in the same direction as everyone else -- a mystery of physics that's yet to be solved.

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The World’s First Electronic Quantum Processor Created

For a brief instant, researchers at Yale University take a major step forward to making quantum computing a reality

A team led by Yale University researchers has created the first rudimentary solid-state quantum processor, taking another step toward the ultimate dream of building a quantum computer – considered to be the keystone in the future of electronic architecture. They also used the two-qubit (quantum binary digits) superconducting chip to successfully run elementary algorithms, demonstrating quantum information processing with a solid-state device for the first time.

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Scientists Reproduce Quantum Entanglement, Einstein's “Spooky Action”

Getting two quantum particles to move at the same time may open the door to more breakthroughs in quantum computing

A group of scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology recently came a step closer to figuring out where the boundary lies between the quantum and classical physical worlds, and their discovery has big implications for the future of quantum computers— which would have much faster and more powerful processors than our computers do today.

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New Entrant in a Long-Running Black Hole Debate

Physicists try to prove the hungry cosmic objects don't break the laws of quantum mechanics when they suck in particles

For years, some scientists contended that black holes swallow everything, including the information associated with the particles they suck up, and that this information can never be recovered. The problem with this idea - the chief proponent of which was the legendary Stephen Hawking - is that it violated a law of quantum mechanics.

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The Super Mario Multiverse

Quantum mechanics got you down? Let Mario guide you through one of physics' most tantalizing theories: parallel universes.

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You're unique. Aren't you? One of the more creative hypotheses surrounding quantum mechanics posits the exact opposite. Though we can readily see only one world, quantum mechanics says that when were not observing the particles that make up that world, those particles exist in multiple places at once. There are many theories that attempt to grasp what this means, but one of the most tantalizing is Hugh Everett's multiverse concept.

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Annihilating Universes

Might we suddenly be annihilated by a parallel universe? A NewScientist.com story answers with a definitive maybe. The theory that this might be possible comes from the fashionable many-worlds" interpretation of quantum mechanics, which posits the constant creation of a near-infinite number of universes. Many-worlds adherents have heretofore always specified that these universes are completely separate—that is, there is no way one could communicate with another. But a new theory, created to make the many-worlds interpretation fit the data of our existence, suggests that these universes might indeed interact in a meaningful way. And when you have interaction, you have the potential for problems. Like the complete destruction of everything in existence.

A few caveats: The many-worlds interpretation isn't really orthodox in the scientific community. I personally feel its nonsense—any solution that requires the constant creation of entire new universes to explain away our ignorance of fundamental quantum processes is really no solution at all. In addition, the gentleman who came up with the latest many-worlds-interacting theory is an economist, not a physicist. Earning a Ph.D. doesnt make you an expert in everything.

[For a slightly lighter take on annihilation, check out Sam Hughes hilarious and disurbingly thorough Geocide site.] —Michael Moyer

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Cult Science

Dressing up mysticism as quantum physics

Beware: A ridiculous new science movie is coming to a theater near you. What the #$*!

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