Physics in the News

New Particle May Hide in Old Atom-Smasher Data   Live Science - October 28, 2016

A study of some old data from a 1990s-era particle-accelerator experiment could be a hint at new physics. Or it could be a fluke. From 1989 to 2000, the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) operated an atom smasher called the Large Electron-Positron Collider (LEP), in which particles were sent crashing into one another at near light speed. Arno Heister, a scientist at CERN, on his own time, decided to look at some data produced between 1992 and 1995 in one of the detectors in the LEP, called ALEPH. These detectors record what happens during those high-speed collisions, when energy - sometimes in the form of exotic particles - comes spewing out. Although not as powerful as the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) atom smasher that's in use today, the LEP made some important discoveries, such as finding the mass of the W boson, the particle that carries the weak nuclear force. LEP was dismantled in 2000 to make way for the LHC.

Ripples in fabric of space-time? Hundreds of undiscovered black holes   Science Daily - September 7, 2016
Computer simulations of a spherical collection of stars known as 'NGC 6101' reveal that it contains hundreds of black holes, until now thought impossible. Recent observations already found black hole candidates in similar systems, with this research enabling astrophysicists to map black holes in other clusters. These systems could be the cradle of gravitational wave emission, 'ripples' in the fabric of space-time.

Physicists confirm possible discovery of fifth force of nature   PhysOrg - August 15, 2016
Recent findings indicating the possible discovery of a previously unknown subatomic particle may be evidence of a fifth fundamental force of nature. For decades, we've known of four fundamental forces: gravitation, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces. If confirmed by further experiments, this discovery of a possible fifth force would completely change our understanding of the universe, with consequences for the unification of forces and dark matter.

New state of matter detected in a two-dimensional material   Science Daily - April 4, 2016

An international team of researchers has found evidence of a mysterious new state of matter, first predicted 40 years ago, in a real material. This state, known as a quantum spin liquid, causes electrons -- thought to be indivisible building blocks of nature -- to break into pieces. The researchers, including physicists from the University of Cambridge, measured the first signatures of these fractional particles, known as Majorana fermions, in a two-dimensional material with a structure similar to graphene. Their experimental results successfully matched with one of the main theoretical models for a quantum spin liquid, known as a Kitaev model. The results are reported in the journal Nature Materials. Quantum spin liquids are mysterious states of matter which are thought to be hiding in certain magnetic materials, but had not been conclusively sighted in nature.

The world's newest atom-smasher achieves its 'first turns'   PhysOrg - March 2, 2016

One of the world's top particle accelerators has reached a milestone, achieving its "first turns" - circulating beams of particles for the first time - and opening a new window into the universe, a view that will give physicists access to a record rate of particle collisions in a tiny volume in space. Japan's SuperKEKB accelerator fills a unique role in the pantheon of atom smashers worldwide. It's at the forefront of what physicists call the "intensity frontier," designed to deliver more than 40 times the rate of collisions between particles than its predecessor. Studying the particles produced in these collisions will give physicists a clearer view of the fundamental building blocks of the universe and provide new opportunities to explore physics that goes beyond today's standard model of particle physics.

Large Hadron Collider

Forget Schrodinger's cat, can you understand the quantum pigeonhole principle puzzle?   Telegraph - January 20, 2016

Solve this riddle: how do you put three pigeons into two pigeonholes, with no two pigeons ending up in the same hole? Physicists at the university claim they've found a way to solve the puzzle. They've argued particles on opposite ends of the universe can be connected, without any previous interaction. The phenomenon suggests there is a new type of quantum reality that impacts all matter. This is an effect similar to something known as entanglement. In quantum physics, entangled particles remain connected so that actions performed by one affects the behavior of the other, even if they are separated by huge distances. But in the new theory, cosmic particles don't need a previous connection to have taken place.

Can three pigeons be in two pigeonholes with no two pigeons in the same hole?   PhysOrg - January 20, 2016
Research published this month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) introduced a new quantum phenomenon which the authors called the "quantum pigeonhole principle." Prior to this breakthrough, the pigeonhole principle was a basic tenet of conventional wisdom. It states that if you put three pigeons in two pigeonholes then at least two of the pigeons must end up in the same hole. It is an obvious yet fundamental principle of nature as it captures the very essence of counting. The research violates this principle. The study demonstrates how to put an arbitrarily large number of particles in two boxes without any two particles ending up in the same box.

SLAC theorist explains quantum gravity   PhysOrg - November 19, 2015
Physicists have quantum theories for the last three of them that allow very precise calculations of phenomena on the smallest, subatomic scales. However, gravity does not fit into this scheme. Despite decades of research, there is no generally accepted quantum theory of gravity, which is needed to better understand fundamental aspects of our universe.

  Scientist May Have Discovered Alternate Universes   Huffington Post - November 4, 2015

Alternate or parallel universes may actually exist, according to the findings of one astrophysicist, but many in the scientific community aren't convinced. Ranga-Ram Chary, U.S. Planck Data Center's project manager in California, recently discovered a "mysterious glow" by mapping the Cosmic Microwave Background, otherwise known as the light that was left over from a few hundred thousand years after the Big Bang.

Strong forces make antimatter stick   BBC - November 4, 2015
Physicists have shed new light on one of the greatest mysteries in science: Why the Universe consists primarily of matter and not antimatter. Antimatter is a shadowy mirror image of the ordinary matter we are familiar with. For the first time, scientists have measured the forces that make certain antimatter particles stick together.

LHC completes proton run for 2015, preps for lead   PhysOrg - November 4, 2015
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) has successfully completed its planned proton run for 2015, delivering the equivalent of about 400 trillion (1012) proton-proton collisions – some 4 inverse femtobarns of data – to both the ATLAS and CMS experiments. LHCb and ALICE have also enjoyed successful data taking at lower collision rates. CERN engineers will now prepare the accelerator to collide lead ions, for a physics run due to start in late November. These heavy-ion collisions allow physicists to investigate quark-gluon plasma, a state of matter thought to have formed just after the Big Bang.

Large Hadron Collider discovers new pentaquark particle   BBC - July 14, 2015

It was first predicted to exist in the 1960s but, much like the Higgs boson particle before it, the pentaquark eluded science for decades until its detection at the LHC. The discovery, which amounts to a new form of matter, was made by the Hadron Collider's LHCb experiment.

New method of quantum entanglement vastly increases how much information can be carried in a photon   PhysOrg - June 30, 2015
A team of researchers has demonstrated a new way to harness light particles, or photons, that are connected to each other and act in unison no matter how far apart they are - a phenomenon known as quantum entanglement. In previous studies, photons have typically been entangled by one dimension of their quantum properties - usually the direction of their polarization. In the new study, researchers demonstrated that they could slice up and entangle each photon pair into multiple dimensions using quantum properties such as the photons' energy and spin. This method, called hyperentanglement, allows each photon pair to carry much more data than was possible with previous methods.

Einstein saves the quantum cat   PhysOrg - June 19, 2015
Einstein's theory of time and space will celebrate its 100th anniversary this year. Even today it captures the imagination of scientists. Researchers have now discovered that this world-famous theory can explain yet another puzzling phenomenon: the transition from quantum behavior to our classical, everyday world. In 1915 Albert Einstein formulated the theory of general relativity which fundamentally changed our understanding of gravity. He explained gravity as the manifestation of the curvature of space and time. Einstein's theory predicts that the flow of time is altered by mass. This effect, known as "gravitational time dilation", causes time to be slowed down near a massive object. It affects everything and everybody; in fact, people working on the ground floor will age slower than their colleagues a floor above, by about 10 nanoseconds in one year.

Quantum Cheshire Cat effect may be explained by standard quantum mechanics   PhysOrg - June 13, 2015
"A grin without a cat" is how Lewis Carroll describes the Cheshire Cat's mysterious way of disappearing while leaving its grin behind in his 1865 classic, Alice in Wonderland. The fanciful character raises a question that has captured physicists' attention over the past few years: can an object be separated from its properties? However, in a new paper published in the New Journal of Physics has questioned this interpretation of the results. Instead of a particle being separated from its properties, they suggest that the results can be explained by a standard quantum effect, quantum interference, in which an individual particle interferes with itself due to its wave-like properties.

Strange behavior of quantum particles may indicate the existence of other parallel universes   PhysOrg - June 3, 2015
Quantum mechanics is a strange realm of reality. Particles at this atomic and subatomic level can appear to be in two places at once. Because the activity of these particles is so iffy, scientists can only describe what's happening mathematically by "drawing" the tiny landscape as a wave of probability.

Quantum experiment verifies Einstein's 'spooky action at a distance'   Science Daily - March 24, 2015

An experiment devised in Griffith University's Centre for Quantum Dynamics has for the first time demonstrated Albert Einstein's original conception of "spooky action at a distance" using a single particle. According to quantum mechanics, a single particle can be described by a wave function that spreads over arbitrarily large distances, but is never detected in two or more places. This phenomenon is explained in quantum theory by what Einstein disparaged in 1927 as "spooky action at a distance," or the instantaneous non-local collapse of the wave function to wherever the particle is detected. Almost 90 years later, by splitting a single photon between two laboratories, scientists have used homodyne detectors -- which measure wave-like properties -- to show the collapse of the wave function is a real effect. This phenomenon is the strongest yet proof of the entanglement of a single particle, an unusual form of quantum entanglement that is being increasingly explored for quantum communication and computation.

General Relativity at 100: Einstein's Famous Theory Has Aged Well   BBC - March 5, 2015

Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity has held up pretty well after a century out in the world. The famous theory, which Einstein published in 1915, remains the bedrock upon which scientists' understanding of the origin and evolution of the universe rests. It continues to inspire research into some of the most fundamental unanswered questions in physics and astronomy. General relativity "is now, I think, routinely accepted as the foundation of our description of the universe at large, which we call cosmology; of black holes, of neutron stars and of small corrections to the orbits of planets and spacecraft in our own solar system," said Roger Blandford of the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology at Stanford University.

The first ever photograph of light as both a particle and wave   PhysOrg - March 2, 2015

Light behaves both as a particle and as a wave. Since the days of Einstein, scientists have been trying to directly observe both of these aspects of light at the same time. Now, scientists at EPFL have succeeded in capturing the first-ever snapshot of this dual behavior. Quantum mechanics tells us that light can behave simultaneously as a particle or a wave. However, there has never been an experiment able to capture both natures of light at the same time; the closest we have come is seeing either wave or particle, but always at different times. Taking a radically different experimental approach, EPFL scientists have now been able to take the first ever snapshot of light behaving both as a wave and as a particle.

Physicists offer a solution to the puzzle of the origin of matter in the universe   Science Daily - February 26, 2015

Most of the laws of nature treat particles and antiparticles equally, but stars and planets are made of particles, or matter, and not antiparticles, or antimatter. That asymmetry, which favors matter to a very small degree, has puzzled scientists for many years. Physicists offer a possible solution to the mystery of the origin of matter in the universe. Most of the laws of nature treat particles and antiparticles equally, but stars and planets are made of particles, or matter, and not antiparticles, or antimatter. That asymmetry, which favors matter to a very small degree, has puzzled scientists for many years.

Quantum Experiment Helps Prove Einstein's Theory of Relativity   Live Science - January 30, 2015
Building a quantum computer can sometimes yield unexpected benefits - like providing the right environment to demonstrate that Albert Einstein's theory of special relativity is, in fact, correct. Using atoms in certain quantum states, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, were able to show that space does not appear squeezed in one direction compared to another, as it would if relativity were not correct. Rather, space looks the same from any direction, as relativity predicts. The experiment used partially entangled atoms that were a byproduct of an attempt to build quantum computers. Special relativity is a cornerstone of modern physics, and was formulated by Einstein in 1905. The theory states two things: the laws of physics are the same everywhere, and the speed of light is a constant, provided that you're not accelerating when you're measuring such phenomena. It can be used to explain the behavior of objects in space and time. (It's companion, the general relativity includes the effects of gravity and acceleration).

Does time pass? New book says it does - but not in the way you may think   PhysOrg - January 28, 2015
Time should be regarded as a dimension of spacetime, as relativity theory holds - so it does not pass by us in some way, because spacetime doesn't. Instead, time is part of the uniform larger fabric of the universe, not something moving around inside it. Events do not sail past us and vanish forever; they just exist in different parts of spacetime. Skow is more impressed by an alternative idea called the "moving spotlight" theory, which may allow that the past and future exist on a par with the present. However, the theory holds, only one moment at a time is absolutely present, and that moment keeps changing, as if a spotlight were moving over it. This is also consistent with relativity, Skow thinks - but it still treats the present as being too distinct, as if the present were cut from different cloth than the rest of the universal fabric.

  Scientists slow the speed of light   BBC - January 25, 2015

They sent photons - individual particles of light - through a special mask. It changed the photons' shape - and slowed them to less than light speed. The photons remained travelling at the lower speed even when they returned to free space.

See it, touch it, feel it: Researchers use ultrasound to make invisible 3-D haptic shape that can be seen and felt   Science Daily - December 3, 2014

Technology has changed rapidly over the last few years with touch feedback, known as haptics, being used in entertainment, rehabilitation and even surgical training. New research, using ultrasound, has developed an invisible 3-D haptic shape that can be seen and felt.

The invisibility cloak for TIME: Experts create a cloaking device capable of hiding entire events in 'bubbles'   Daily Mail - December 2, 2014
The quest for a true invisibility cloak, seen in films such as Harry Potter, is the holy grail for physicists. But while many have been able to briefly conceal objects from view, and even shield sounds, one team has developed a way to cloak entire events. By concealing these events behind strands of laser light, the researchers could make it appear as if a moment - such as an object moving from one position to another - had spontaneously occurred of travelled inside a 'bubble of time.'

Scientists propose existence and interaction of parallel worlds: Many Interacting Worlds theory challenges foundations of quantum science   Science Daily - October 30, 2014
Academics are challenging the foundations of quantum science with a radical new theory on parallel universes. Scientists now propose that parallel universes really exist, and that they interact. They show that such an interaction could explain everything that is bizarre about quantum mechanics.

Elusive particle that is its own antiparticle observed   Science Daily - October 3, 2014
Scientists have observed an exotic particle that behaves simultaneously like matter and antimatter, a feat of math and engineering that could yield powerful computers based on quantum mechanics.

'Quantum Cheshire Cat' becomes reality   BBC - July 29, 2014

Scientists have for the first time separated a particle from one of its physical properties - creating a "quantum Cheshire Cat". The phenomenon is named after the curious feline in Alice in Wonderland, who vanishes leaving only its grin. Researchers took a beam of neutrons and separated them from their magnetic moment, like passengers and their baggage at airport security.

If Spacetime Were a Superfluid, Would It Unify Physics - or Is the Theory All Wet?   Scientific American - June 19, 2014
If spacetime is like a liquid - a concept some physicists say could help resolve a confounding disagreement between two dominant theories in physics - it must be a very special liquid indeed. A recent study compared astrophysical observations with predictions based on the notion of fluid spacetime, and found the idea only works if spacetime is incredibly smooth and freely flowing - in other words, a superfluid. Thinking of spacetime as a liquid may be a helpful analogy. Physicists have been considering this possibility since the 1990s in an attempt to reconcile the dominant theory of gravity on a large scale - general relativity - with the theory governing the very smallest bits of the universe - quantum mechanics.

'Big G': Scientists Pin Down Elusive Gravitational Constant   Live Science - June 19, 2014

A fundamental constant that sets the size of the gravitational force between all objects has finally been pinned down using the quirky quantum behavior of tiny atoms. The new results could help set the official value of the gravitational constant, and may even help scientists find evidence of extra space-time dimensions. According to legend, Sir Isaac Newton first formulated his theory of gravity after watching a falling apple. In Newton's equations, the force of gravity grows with the mass of two objects in question, and the force gets weaker the more distant the objects are from each other. The English polymath knew the objects' masses had to be multiplied by a constant, or "big G," in order to arrive at the gravitational force between those two objects, but he wasn't able to calculate its value. ("Big G" is different from "little g," which is the local gravitational acceleration on Earth.)

Scientists discover how to turn light into matter after 80-year quest   Science Daily - May 19, 2014
Physicists have discovered how to create matter from light -- a feat thought impossible when the idea was first theorized 80 years ago. In just one day over several cups of coffee in a tiny office, three physicists worked out a relatively simple way to physically prove a theory first devised by scientists Breit and Wheeler in 1934. Breit and Wheeler suggested that it should be possible to turn light into matter by smashing together only two particles of light (photons), to create an electron and a positron -- the simplest method of turning light into matter ever predicted. The calculation was found to be theoretically sound, but Breit and Wheeler said that they never expected anybody to physically demonstrate their prediction.

Tracking the transition of early-universe quark soup to matter-as-we-know-it   Science Daily - April 7, 2014

Ever wonder how the hot soup of subatomic particles that filled the early universe transformed into the ordinary matter of today's world? Nuclear physicists exploring this question can't exactly travel back 13.8 billion years to watch what really happened, but they can recreate matter at the extreme temperatures and densities that existed just after the Big Bang by smashing together ordinary atomic nuclei at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC).

Tracking the transition of early-universe quark soup to matter as we know it   PhysOrg - April 7, 2014
Ever wonder how the hot soup of subatomic particles that filled the early universe transformed into the ordinary matter of today's world? Nuclear physicists exploring this question can't exactly travel back 13.8 billion years to watch what really happened, but they can recreate matter at the extreme temperatures and densities that existed just after the Big Bang by smashing together ordinary atomic nuclei at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC).

An analysis of Einstein's 1931 paper featuring a dynamic model of the universe   PhysOrg - February 19, 2014
A paper published in the European Physical Journal H provides the first English translation and an analysis of one of Albert Einstein's little-known papers, "On the cosmological problem of the general theory of relativity." Published in 1931, it features a forgotten model of the universe, while refuting Einstein's own earlier static model of 1917. In this paper, Einstein introduces a cosmic model in which the universe undergoes an expansion followed by a contraction. This interpretation contrasts with the monotonically expanding universe of the widely known Einstein-de Sitter model of 1932.

Closing the 'free will' loophole: Using distant quasars to test Bell's theorem   Science Daily - February 20, 2014
Astronomers propose an experiment that may close the last major loophole of Bell's inequality -- a 50-year-old theorem that, if violated by experiments, would mean that our universe is based not on the textbook laws of classical physics, but on the less-tangible probabilities of quantum mechanics. Such a quantum view would allow for seemingly counterintuitive phenomena such as entanglement, in which the measurement of one particle instantly affects another, even if those entangled particles are at opposite ends of the universe. Among other things, entanglement -- a quantum feature Albert Einstein skeptically referred to as "spooky action at a distance" -- seems to suggest that entangled particles can affect each other instantly, faster than the speed of light.

Natural 3-D Counterpart to Graphene Discovered: New Form of Quantum Matter   Science Daily - January 17, 2014

A collaboration of researchers at the U.S Department of Energy has discovered that sodium bismuthate can exist as a form of quantum matter called a three-dimensional topological Dirac semi-metal (3DTDS). This is the first experimental confirmation of 3D Dirac fermions in the interior or bulk of a material, a novel state that was only recently proposed by theorists. Paul Dirac English theoretical physicist

How Light Can Be Both a Particle and a Wave   Scientific American - December 13, 2013

You may have heard that light consists of particles called photons. How could something as simple as light be made of particles? Physicists describe light as both a particle and a wave. In fact, light's wavelike behavior is responsible for a lot of its cool effects, such as the iridescent colors produced on the surface of bubbles. To see a dramatic and mind-bending example of how light behaves like a wave, all you need is three pieces of mechanical pencil lead, a laser pointer and a dark room.

Scientists Discover a Jewel at the Heart of Quantum Physics   Wired - December 12, 2013

Physicists reported this week the discovery of a jewel-like geometric object that dramatically simplifies calculations of particle interactions and challenges the notion that space and time are fundamental components of reality. The revelation that particle interactions, the most basic events in nature, may be consequences of geometry significantly advances a decades-long effort to reformulate quantum field theory, the body of laws describing elementary particles and their interactions. Interactions that were previously calculated with mathematical formulas thousands of terms long can now be described by computing the volume of the corresponding jewel-like 'amplituhedron,' which yields an equivalent one-term expression. The new geometric version of quantum field theory could also facilitate the search for a theory of quantum gravity that would seamlessly connect the large- and small-scale pictures of the universe. Attempts thus far to incorporate gravity into the laws of physics at the quantum scale have run up against nonsensical infinities and deep paradoxes. The amplituhedron, or a similar geometric object, could help by removing two deeply rooted principles of physics: locality and unitarity.

In a "Rainbow" Universe Time May Have No Beginning   Scientific American - December 9, 2013

What if the universe had no beginning, and time stretched back infinitely without a big bang to start things off? That's one possible consequence of an idea called "rainbow gravity," so-named because it posits that gravity's effects on space-time are felt differently by different wavelengths of light, aka different colors in the rainbow. Rainbow gravity was first proposed 10 years ago as a possible step toward repairing the rifts between the theories of general relativity (covering the very big) and quantum mechanics (concerning the realm of the very small). The idea is not a complete theory for describing quantum effects on gravity, and is not widely accepted. Nevertheless, physicists have now applied the concept to the question of how the universe began, and found that if rainbow gravity is correct, space-time may have a drastically different origin story than the widely accepted picture of the big bang. According to Einstein's general relativity, massive objects warp space-time so that anything traveling through it, including light, takes a curving path.

Search Escalates for Key to Why Matter Exists   Scientific American - October 23, 2013

Physicists have completed a new round of searches for the answer to why matter dominates antimatter. But the radioactive decay that would solve the puzzle evades them

Seeing Light in a New Light: Scientists Create Never-Before-Seen Form of Matter   Science Daily - September 26, 2013

Researchers have managed to coax photons into binding together to form molecules -- a state of matter that, until recently, had been purely theoretical.

Space-Time Is Not the Same for Everyone   Science Daily - July 9, 2013
Before the Big Bang, space-time as we know it did not exist. So how was it born? The process of creating normal space-time from an earlier state dominated by quantum gravity has been studied for years by theorists at the Faculty of Physics, University of Warsaw. Recent analyses suggest a surprising conclusion: not all elementary particles are subject to the same space-time. Several billion years ago, in the era soon after the Big Bang, the Universe was so dense and so hot that elementary particles felt the existence of gravity strongly. For decades, physicists around the world have been attempting to discover the laws of quantum gravity describing this phase of the evolution of the Universe.

  'Twisted light' idea makes for terabit rates in fibre   BBC - June 28, 2013

A novel way of boosting data rates in optical communication using "twisted light" has been shown to work in optical fibres. The light is effectively corkscrew-shaped, and more data can be encoded in differently twisted beams. The concept had been shown off over "free space" but it remained unclear if it would work in fibres. Now a team reporting in Science has demonstrated data rates of 1.6 terabits per second over 1km of optical fibre.

Milestone for Quantum Networks: First Entanglement Between Light and an Optical Atomic Coherence   Science Daily - June 19, 2013
Using clouds of ultra-cold atoms and a pair of lasers operating at optical wavelengths, researchers have reached a quantum network milestone: entangling light with an optical atomic coherence composed of interacting atoms in two different states. The development could help pave the way for functional, multi-node quantum networks.

New 'Charmed' Particle Represents Rare State of Matter   Live Science - June 19, 2013
A new type of particle may have shown up independently at two particle accelerators, physicists say. The particle, made of four quarks (the ingredients of protons and neutrons), appears to represent a state of matter previously unknown. Signs of the particle were sighted at the Belle experiment in Japan and the Beijing Spectrometer Experiment (BESIII) in China. Scientists can't be sure what the particle is made of, or if it's even a single particle at all - there's a chance it could be two particles, each made of a pair of quarks, bound together. But nothing like it has been seen before, and the discovery offers the hope of clarifying the strange nature of quarks.

Einstein's theory of relatively seen in action by astronomers - April 26, 2013

Astronomers measured bursts of energy from a neutron star which is being orbited by a smaller white dwarf star. The gravity created by the neutron star, which is a super dense spinning pulsar, created a wrinkle in the fabric of space time in a way predicted by Einstein in his famous theory in 1915. The neutron star, which is just 12 miles across but weights twice as much as our own sun, has gravity that is 300 billion times stronger than that felt on the surface of Earth. At the centre of this star, a billion tonnes of matter would be squeezed into an areas the size of a sugar cube. This enormous gravitational force should create a distortion in space-time according to Einstein's theory. As the white dwarf – a glowing remnant of another dead star – orbits the neutron star they should create wrinkles that move out in space time known as gravitational waves.

Einstein's Theory of Relativity Victorious Once Again   Live Science - April 25, 2013
In a match-up between quantum theory and the general theory of relativity, Einstein's theory has once again come out victorious: this time in an orbiting pair of ultra-dense stars. The star pair, about 7,000 light-years from Earth provides a unique opportunity to test the boundary between two theories of physics, according to Though Albert Einstein's theory of relativity beautifully predicts how the gravity of massive objects curves space-time, it isn't complete: it can't explain the weird behavior of the ultra-small world, which is described by quantum mechanics.

Particle Physics Research Sheds New Light On Possible 'Fifth Force of Nature'   Science Daily - February 22, 2013
In a breakthrough for the field of particle physics, Professor of Physics Larry Hunter and colleagues at Amherst College and The University of Texas at Austin have established new limits on what scientists call "long-range spin-spin interactions" between atomic particles. These interactions have been proposed by theoretical physicists but have not yet been seen. Their observation would constitute the discovery of a "fifth force of nature" (in addition to the four known fundamental forces: gravity, weak, strong and electromagnetic) and would suggest the existence of new particles, beyond those presently described by the Standard Model of particle physics.

You don't exist in an infinite number of places, say scientists   PhysOrg - January 25, 2013
If you've read about how modern cosmology may imply that, in an infinite universe, the existence of planets and the life forms that live on them must be repeated an infinite number of times, you may have been just a little bit skeptical. So are a couple scientists from Spain, who have posted a paper at criticizing the concept of the infinite repetition of histories in space, an idea closely related to the concepts of "alternate histories," "parallel universes," and the "many worlds interpretation," among others. The basic idea of the infinite repetition of histories in space is that, if you take yourself right now and change one thing (say make your red shirt a blue one), then there's another you somewhere who is exactly the same except for that one difference.

Extending Einstein's Ideas: New Kind of Quantum Entanglement Demonstrated   PhysOrg - December 16, 2012
Physicists at the University of Calgary and at the Institute for Quantum Computing in Waterloo have published new research in Nature Physics which builds on the original ideas of Einstein and adds a new ingredient: a third entangled particle. Quantum entanglement is one of the central principles of quantum physics, which is the science of sub-atomic particles. Multiple particles, such as photons, are connected with each other even when they are very far apart and what happens to one particle can have an effect on the other one at the same moment, even though these effects can not be used to send information faster than light. The new form of three-particle entanglement demonstrated in this experiment, which is based on the position and momentum properties of photons, may prove to be a valuable part of future communications networks that operate on the rules of quantum mechanics, and could lead to new fundamental tests of quantum theory that deepen our understanding of the world around us.

Do we live in a computer simulation? Researchers say idea can be tested   PhysOrg - December 10, 2012

A decade ago, a British philosopher put forth the notion that the universe we live in might in fact be a computer simulation run by our descendants. While that seems far-fetched, perhaps even incomprehensible, a team of physicists at the University of Washington has come up with a potential test to see if the idea holds water.

Quantum test pricks uncertainty   BBC - September 8, 2012

Pioneering experiments have cast doubt on a founding idea of the branch of physics called quantum mechanics. The Heisenberg uncertainty principle is in part an embodiment of the idea that in the quantum world, the mere act of observing an event changes it. But the idea had never been put to the test, and a team writing in Physical Review Letters says "weak measurements" prove the rule was never quite right. That could play havoc with "uncrackable codes" of quantum cryptography. Quantum mechanics has since its very inception raised a great many philosophical and metaphysical debates about the nature of nature itself.

Mathematicians Offer Unified Theory of Dark Matter, Dark Energy, Altering Einstein Field Equations   Science Daily - September 6, 2012
A pair of mathematicians - one from Indiana University and the other from Sichuan University in China - have proposed a unified theory of dark matter and dark energy that alters Einstein's equations describing the fundamentals of gravity. Shouhong Wang, a professor in the IU College of Arts and Sciences' Department of Mathematics, and Tian Ma, a professor at Sichuan University, suggest the law of energy and momentum conservation in spacetime is valid only when normal matter, dark matter and dark energy are all taken into account. For normal matter alone, energy and momentum are no longer conserved, they argue.

Theoretical physicists probe the Majorana mystery   PhysOrg - August 2, 2012

Majorana is a name whose very mention evokes a veil of mystery. On one level, it refers to a mysterious particle that may exist on the boundary of matter and antimatter. Curiously, it is thought to be both a material particle and its own corresponding antiparticle. Matter and antimatter have long been a cause célŹbre in both scientific and science fiction circles. When matter and antimatter collide, they typically disappear in a burst of energy - not so with the Majoranas, thought to be stable and robust.

Misbehaving particles poke holes in reigning physics theory   MSNBC - June 18, 2012

The reigning theory of particle physics may be flawed, according to new evidence that a subatomic particle decays in a certain way more often than it should, scientists announced. This theory, called the Standard Model, is the best handbook scientists have to describe the tiny bits of matter that make up the universe. But many physicists suspect the Standard Model has some holes in it, and findings like this may point to where those holes are hiding.

Black Holes as Exotic Particle Honeypots?   Discovery - June 18, 2012

Forget the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) near Geneva, Switzerland, if you really want to unravel the mysteries behind the most elusive subatomic particles in the Universe, you may be better off detecting the gravitational waves radiating from a black hole. This sci-fi-sounding notion comes from the fertile minds of Vienna University of Technology scientists who argue that the extreme gravitational dominance of black holes may be honeypots for hypothetical exotic particles called axions.

Exotic Antimatter Caught in Disappearing Act   Live Science - March 9, 2012
Scientists have caught a rare type of exotic particle in the act of disappearing, and the vanishing trick appears to be more common than expected. For the first time, researchers have observed particles called electron antineutrinos turning into other types of particles, and calculated the frequency at which this happens. Though the phenomenon is extremely rare, it turns out that it's slightly less rare than once thought. Electron antineutrinos are odd in a number of ways. For one thing, they're a kind of antimatter - the strange cousin of matter with the inconvenient habit of annihilating matter on contact.

Perpetual Motion 'Time Crystals' May Exist, Physicist Says   Live Science - February 22, 2012
From diamonds to snowflakes to salt, crystals are common in nature. The arrangement of their atoms in orderly, repeating patterns extending in all three spatial dimensions doesn't just make them nice to look at; crystals are also the vital components of technologies from electrical transistors to LCD screens. In groundbreaking new research, Nobel-winning physicist Frank Wilzcek contends that "time crystals," moving structures that repeat periodically in the fourth dimension, exist as well. A time crystal would be a physical object whose constituent parts move in a repeating pattern. Think of a kaleidoscope, whose sparkly bits swirl on loop forever, or a clock, whose hour hand completes a 360-degree turn every 12 hours. But unlike clocks or other common objects with moving parts, time crystals would run forever under their own steam - perpetual motion devices permitted by the laws of physics.

Wacky Physics: New Uncertainty About the Uncertainty Principle   Live Science - February 22, 2012
The uncertainty principle posits, for instance, that if you make a measurement to find out the exact position of an electron around an atom, you will only be able to get a hazy idea of how fast it's moving. One of the most often quoted, yet least understood, tenets of physics is the uncertainty principle. Formulated by German physicist Werner Heisenberg in 1927, the rule states that the more precisely you measure a particle's position, the less precisely you will be able to determine its momentum, and vice versa. The principle is often invoked outside the realm of physics to describe how the act of observing something changes the thing being observed, or to point out that there's a limit to how well we can ever really understand the universe. While the subtleties of the uncertainty principle are often lost on nonphysicists, it turns out the idea is frequently misunderstood by experts, too. But a recent experiment shed new light on the maxim and led to a novel formula describing how the uncertainty principle really works.

New Quantum Record: Physicists Entangle 8 Photons   Wired - February 14, 2012
One of the most mind-blowing areas of quantum mechanics is entanglement: two or more particles separated in space can have physical properties that are correlated. A measurement performed on one particle will tell us the result of the same measurement taken on an entangled particle. Entanglement is important but difficult to study, both in terms of a theoretical understanding and doing experiments. While entangling relatively small groups of particles has been accomplished several times over the last 30 years (pioneered by Aspect et al. in 1982), scaling these experiments up in sizes sufficient to create quantum computers and other complex systems has eluded researchers.

"Time Cloak" Created; Can Make Events Disappear   National Geographic - January 6, 2011
Einstein's theories of relativity suggest that gravity can cause time to slow down. Now scientists have demonstrated a way to stop time altogether - or at least, to give the appearance of time stopping by bending light to create a hole in time. The new research builds on recent demonstrations of "invisibility cloaks" that can make objects seem to disappear by bending waves of visible light. The idea is that, if light moves around an object instead of striking it, that light doesn't get scattered and reflected back to an observer, making the object essentially invisible. Now Cornell University scientists have used a similar concept to create a hole in time, albeit a very short one: The effect lasts around 40 trillionths of a second. To conduct their time-stopping experiment, Gaeta and colleagues aimed a laser beam at a probe and passed the beam through a device called a time lens. While a conventional optical lens bends a beam of light in space, the time lens modifies the light's temporal - not spatial - distribution.

Vibration rocks for entangled diamonds   PhysOrg - December 16, 2011

You can take two diamonds - not quite everyday objects, but at least simple and recognizable - and put them in such a state: in particular a superposition of a state of one diamond vibrating and the other not, and vice versa.

Two Diamonds Linked by Strange Quantum Entanglement   Live Science - December 1, 2011
Scientists have linked two diamonds in a mysterious process called entanglement that is normally only seen on the quantum scale. Entanglement is so weird that Einstein dubbed it "spooky action at a distance." It's a strange effect where one object gets connected to another so that even if they are separated by large distances, an action performed on one will affect the other. Entanglement usually occurs with subatomic particles, and was predicted by the theory of quantum mechanics, which governs the realm of the very small. But now physicists have succeeded in entangling two macroscopic diamonds, demonstrating that quantum mechanical effects are not limited to the microscopic scale.

Italian Cold Fusion Machine Passes Another Test   Live Science - November 3, 2011
Italian physicist and inventor Andrea Rossi has conducted a public demonstration of his "cold fusion" machine, the E-Cat, at the University of Bologna, showing that a small amount of input energy drives an unexplained reaction between atoms of hydrogen and nickel that leads to a large outpouring of energy, more than 10 times what was put in. The first successful cold fusion experiment was reported two decades ago, but the process has forever been met with heavy skepticism. It's a seemingly impossible process in which two types of atoms, typically a light element and a heavier metal, seem to fuse together, releasing pure heat that can be converted into electricity. The process is an attractive energy solution for two reasons: Unlike in nuclear fission, the reaction doesn't give off dangerous radiation. Unlike the fusion processes that take place in the sun, cold fusion doesn't require extremely high temperatures.

Erasing history? Temporal cloaks adjust light's throttle to hide an event in time   PhysOrg - October 12, 2011
Researchers from Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., have demonstrated for the first time that it's possible to cloak a singular event in time, creating what has been described as a "history editor." In a feat of Einstein-inspired physics, Moti Fridman and his colleagues sent a beam of light traveling down an optical fiber and through a pair of so-called "time lenses." Between these two lenses, the researchers were able to briefly create a small bubble, or gap, in the flow of light. During that fleetingly brief moment, lasting only the tiniest fraction of a second, the gap functioned like a temporal hole, concealing the fact that a brief burst of light ever occurred.

Time and numbers mix together in the brain   PhysOrg - July 19, 2011
Clocks tell time in numbers -- and so do our minds, according to a new study which will be published in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. In two experiments, scientists found that people associate small numbers with short time intervals and large numbers with longer intervals -- suggesting that these two systems are linked in the brain.

Near-Perfect Particle Measurement Achieved   Live Science - July 14, 2011

The mind-bending laws of quantum mechanics say we can't observe the smallest particles without affecting them. Physicists have now caused the smallest-ever disturbance while making a quantum measurement - in fact, almost the minimum thought to be possible. This disturbance is called back-action, and it is one of the hallmarks of quantum mechanics, which governs the actions of the very small. It arises from the supposition that before a measurement is made, particles exist in a sort of limbo state, being neither here nor there while retaining the possibility of either.

Antimatter Tevatron mystery gains ground   BBC - July 2, 2011
US particle physicists are inching closer to determining why the Universe exists in its current form, made overwhelmingly of matter. Physics suggests equal amounts of matter and antimatter should have been made in the Big Bang. In 2010, researchers at the Tevatron accelerator claimed preliminary results showing a small excess of matter over antimatter as particles decayed. Each of the fundamental particles known has an antimatter cousin, with identical properties but opposite electric charge. When a particle encounters its antiparticle, they "annihilate" each other, disappearing in a high-energy flash of light. The question remains: why did this not occur in the early Universe with the equal amounts of matter and antimatter, resulting in a Universe devoid of both?

Exotic Particle Changes Flavor as Scientists Watch   Live Science - June 25, 2011
Scientists have observed the rare phenomenon of one type of exotic particle transforming into another, which could reveal secrets about the evolution of the universe.

Matter Melts in Superhot Particle Collisions   Live Science - June 23, 2011

By creating a soup of subatomic particles similar to what the Big Bang produced, scientists have discovered the temperature boundary where ordinary matter dissolves. Normal atoms will be converted into another state of matter - a plasma of quarks and gluons - at a temperature about 125,000 times hotter than the center of the sun, physicists said after smashing the nuclei of gold atoms together and measuring the results. While this extreme state of matter is far from anything that occurs naturally on Earth, scientists think the whole universe consisted of a similar soup for a few microseconds after the Big Bang about 13.7 billion years ago.

US atom smasher may have found new force of nature   PhysOrg - April 6, 2011
Data from a major US atom smasher lab may have revealed a new elementary particle, or potentially a new force of nature, said one of the physicists involved in the discovery. The physics world was abuzz with excitement over the findings, which could offer clues to the persistent riddle of mass and how objects obtain it -- one of the most sought-after answers in all of physics. But experts cautioned that more analysis was needed to uncover the true nature of the discovery, which comes as part of an ongoing experiment with proton and antiproton collisions to understand the workings of the universe.

Theoretical physics breakthrough: Generating matter and antimatter from the vacuum   PhysOrg - December 8, 2010
Under just the right conditions -- which involve an ultra-high-intensity laser beam and a two-mile-long particle accelerator -- it could be possible to create something out of nothing. The scientists and engineers have developed new equations that show how a high-energy electron beam combined with an intense laser pulse could rip apart a vacuum into its fundamental matter and antimatter components, and set off a cascade of events that generates additional pairs of particles and antiparticles.

German physicists create a 'super-photon'   PhysOrg - November 25, 2010

Physicists from the University of Bonn have developed a completely new source of light, a so-called Bose-Einstein condensate consisting of photons. Until recently, expert had thought this impossible. This method may potentially be suitable for designing novel light sources resembling lasers that work in the X-ray range. Among other applications, they might allow building more powerful computer chips. The scientists are reporting on their discovery in the upcoming issue of the journal Nature.

The music of gravitational waves   PhysOrg - November 24, 2010

This artist's concept shows the proposed LISA mission, which would consist of three distinct spacecraft, each connected by laser beams. It would be the first space-based mission to attempt the detection of gravitational waves -- ripples in space-time that are emitted by exotic objects such as black holes. A team of scientists and engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has brought the world one step closer to "hearing" gravitational waves -- ripples in space and time predicted by Albert Einstein in the early 20th century. Studies of these cosmic waves began in earnest decades ago when, in 1974, researchers discovered a pair of orbiting dead stars -- a type called pulsars -- that were spiraling closer and closer together due to an unexplainable loss of energy. That energy was later shown to be in the form of gravitational waves. This was the first indirect proof of the waves, and ultimately earned the 1993 Nobel Prize in Physics.

New look at relativity: Electrons can't exceed the speed of light -- thanks to light itself, says biologist   PhysOrg - November 19, 2010
When resolving why electrons can never beat the speed limit set by light, it might be best to forget about time. Thanks to insight from studying movement inside a biological cell, it seems that light itself -- not the relativity of time -- may be the traffic cop, according to a Cornell University biologist.

Black Strings: Black Holes With Extra Dimensions   Live Science - September 23, 2010
Meet the Bizarro universe version of a black hole: a black string. These hypothetical objects might form if our universe has hidden extra dimensions beyond the three of space and one of time that we can see, scientists say. A new study of five-dimensional black strings offers a glimpse into how these strange objects might evolve over time – if indeed they exist at all.

New study suggests researchers can now test the 'theory of everything'   PhysOrg - September 1, 2010
String theory was originally developed to describe the fundamental particles and forces that make up our universe. The new research, led by a team from Imperial College London, describes the unexpected discovery that string theory also seems to predict the behavior of entangled quantum particles. As this prediction can be tested in the laboratory, researchers can now test string theory. Over the last 25 years, string theory has become physicists' favorite contender for the 'theory of everything', reconciling what we know about the incredibly small from particle physics with our understanding of the very large from our studies of cosmology. Using the theory to predict how entangled quantum particles behave provides the first opportunity to test string theory by experiment.

Quantum time machine 'allows paradox-free time travel' - July 22, 2010
Scientists have for some years been able to 'teleport' quantum states from one place to another. Now Seth Lloyd and his MIT team say that, using the same principles and a further strange quantum effect known as 'postselection', it should be possible to do the same backwards in time. Lloyd told the Technology Review: "It is possible for particles (and, in principle, people) to tunnel from the future to the past."

Time travel theory avoids grandfather paradox   PhysOrg - July 22, 2010
The possibility of going back in time only to kill your ancestors and prevent your own birth has posed a serious problem for potential time travelers, not even considering the technical details of building a time machine. But a new theory proposed by physicists at MIT suggests that this grandfather paradox could be avoided by using quantum teleportation and "post-selecting" what a time traveler could and could not do. So while murdering one's relatives is unfortunately possible in the present time, such actions would be strictly forbidden if you were to try them during a trip to the past.

Bridging the classical/quantum divide   PhysOrg - June 30, 2010
Dartmouth researchers have discovered a potentially important piece of the quantum/classical puzzle - learning how the rules of physics in the quantum world (think smaller than microscopic) change when applied to the classical world (think every day items, like cars and trees).

New 'fix' for cosmic clocks could help uncover ripples in space-time   PhysOrg - June 25, 2010

An international team of scientists including University of British Columbia astronomer Ingrid Stairs has discovered a promising way to fine-tune pulsars into the best precision time-pieces in the Universe. The discovery could give astronomers a new tool to study the powerful gravitational forces that shaped the universe.

Scientists have made their most accurate measurement yet of the mass of a mysterious neutrino particle   BBC - June 22, 2010

Scientists have made their most accurate measurement yet of the mass of a mysterious neutrino particle. Neutrinos are sometimes known as "ghost particles" because they interact so weakly with other forms of matter. Previous experiments had shown that neutrinos have a mass, but it was so tiny that it was very hard to measure. Using data from the largest ever survey of galaxies, researchers put the mass of a neutrino at no greater than 0.28 electron volts. This is less than a billionth of the mass of a single hydrogen atom, the scientists say. Their nickname is fitting: a neutrino is capable of passing through a light-year (about six trillion miles) of lead without hitting a single atom.

'Ghost particle' sized up by cosmologists   PhysOrg - June 22, 2010

Cosmologists at UCL (University College London) are a step closer to determining the mass of the elusive neutrino particle, not by using a giant particle detector, but by gazing up into space. Although it has been shown that a neutrino has a mass, it is vanishingly small and extremely hard to measure - a neutrino is capable of passing through a light year (about six trillion miles) of lead without hitting a single atom. New results using the largest ever survey of galaxies in the universe puts total neutrino mass at no larger than 0.28 electron volts - less than a billionth of the mass of a single hydrogen atom. This is one of the most accurate measurements of the mass of a neutrino to date.

Scientists Drop Theory of Everything Down Elevator Shaft   Live Science - June 17, 2010
Scientists dropped an experiment nearly five stories down an elevator shaft of sorts to test a possible way to meld the physical theory of the very small - quantum mechanics - with the very large - general relativity, to create a theory of everything. The theory of quantum mechanics reigns over atoms and electrons and quarks and other things too tiny to see with the naked eye. It describes these most basic building blocks of matter as both particles and waves. The theory famously includes some befuddling concepts such as the uncertainty principle (you can't simultaneously know both the position and momentum of a particle with accuracy) and the idea of quantum entanglement, whereby two particles that were formerly linked can be separated by great distances and retain an eerie connection, with one responding when an action is performed on the other.

"God Particle" May Be Five Distinct Particles, New Evidence Shows   National Geographic - June 16, 2010
The "God particle" may actually be five distinct particles, evidence from a new atom-smashing experiment suggests. Called the Higgs boson, the theoretical particle has been long sought by physicists who think it's responsible for all mass in the universe hence the name God particle. It's also one of the targets of experiments by the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), which began smashing subatomic particles together at half its maximum power in March. According to the widely accepted standard model of physics, all particles acquire their mass by interacting with the Higgs boson. But some theories say that the Higgs boson is not one, but multiple, particles with similar masses but different electrical charges. Now, researchers at Fermilab in Batavia, Illinois, say they have found more evidence for this multiple-particle theory.

US experiment hints at 'multiple God particles' (Higgs Boson)   BBC - June 15, 2010
There may be multiple versions of the elusive "God particle" - or Higgs boson - according to a new study. Finding the Higgs is the primary aim of the £6bn ($10bn) Large Hadron Collider (LHC) experiment near Geneva. But recent results from the LHC's US rival suggest physicists could be hunting five particles, not one. The data may point to new laws of physics beyond the current accepted theory - known as the Standard Model. The Higgs boson's nickname comes from its importance to the Standard Model; it is the sub-atomic particle which explains why all other particles have mass. However, despite decades trying, no-one, so far, has detected it. The idea of multiple Higgs bosons is supported by results gathered by the DZero experiment at the Tevatron particle accelerator, operated by Fermilab in Illinois, US.

Reinventing the wheel -- naturally   PhysOrg - June 14, 2010

Humans did not invent the wheel. Nature did. While the evolution from the Neolithic solid stone wheel with a single hole for an axle to the sleek wheels of today's racing bikes can be seen as the result of human ingenuity, it also represents how animals, including humans, have come to move more efficiently and quicker over millions of years on Earth, according to a Duke University engineer.

  Physicists burst bubble mystery   BBC - June 10, 2010
With the help of high speed video, scientists have discovered that there is far more to bursting bubbles than meets the eye. Under the right conditions, a bursting bubble on a liquid surface does not simply vanish, but creates a perfect ring of tiny "daughter bubbles". This occurs as the ruptured bubble retracts into the liquid, forming a doughnut shape of trapped air.

Our universe at home within a larger universe? So suggests wormhole research   PhysOrg - April 7, 2010

Einstein-Rosen bridges like the one visualized above have never been observed in nature, but they provide theoretical physicists and cosmologists with solutions in general relativity by combining models of black holes and white holes.

Einstein equations indicate possibility of black hole formation at the LHC   PhysOrg - April 6, 2010
One of the concerns that has been voiced about the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), is that it could result in the formation of black holes that could destroy the world. While most scientists dismiss claims that anything produced in the LHC would destroy the planet, there are some that think that black formation could be seen with LHC collisions of sufficiently high energy.

Cold atoms and nanotubes come together in an atomic 'black hole'   PhysOrg - April 6, 2010

Physicists at Harvard University have found that a high-voltage nanotube can cause cold atoms to spiral inward under dramatic acceleration before disintegrating violently. Their experiments, the first to demonstrate something akin to a black hole at atomic scale. The entire experiment was conducted with great precision, allowing the scientists unprecedented access to both cold-atom and nanoscale processes.

Light bends matter, surprising scientists   NBC - March 24, 2010

Light can twist matter, according to a new study that observed ribbons of nanoparticles twisting in response to light. Scientists knew matter can cause light to bend - prisms and glasses prove this easily enough. But the reverse phenomenon was not shown to occur until recently. The researchers assembled strings of nanoparticles, which are tiny clumps of matter on the scale of nanometers (one nanometer is one billionth of a meter). In a darkened lab, the scientists linked nanoparticles together into ribbons. At first the nano ribbons were flat, but when a light was shone on them, they curled up into spirals.

Tiny nano-electromagnets turn a cloak of invisibility into a possibility   PhysOrg - December 22, 2009
A team of researchers at the FOM institute AMOLF (The Netherlands) has succeeded for the first time in powering an energy transfer between nano-electromagnets with the magnetic field of light. This breakthrough is of major importance in the quest for magnetic 'meta-materials' with which light rays can be deflected in every possible direction. This could make it possible to produce perfect lenses and, in the fullness of time, even 'invisibility cloaks'.

Strange Physical Theory Proved After Nearly 40 Years   Live Science - December 16, 2009

Efimov had predicted a quantum-mechanical version of Borromean rings, a symbol that first showed up in Afghan Buddhist art from around the second century. The symbol depicts three rings linked together; if any ring were removed, they would all come apart.
Borromean Rings  Wikipedia
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'Blue energy' seems feasible and offers considerable benefits   PhysOrg - October 30, 2009
Generating energy on a large scale by mixing salt and fresh water is both technically possible and practical. The worldwide potential for this clean form of energy - 'blue energy' or 'blue electricity' - is enormous. However, it will be necessary to work actively on several essential technological developments and to invest heavily in large-scale trials.

Study Shows Time Traveling May Not Increase Computational Power   PhysOrg - October 22, 2009
For more than 50 years, physicists have been intrigued by the concept of closed time-like curves (CTCs). Because a CTC returns to its starting point, it raises the possibility of traveling backward in time. More recently, physicists have theorized that CTC-assisted computers could enable ideal quantum state discrimination, and even make classical computers (with CTCs) equally as powerful as quantum computers. However, a new study argues that CTCs, if they exist, might actually provide much less computational benefit than previously thought.

Physicists Calculate Number of Parallel Universes   PhysOrg - October 17, 2009
Over the past few decades, the idea that our universe could be one of many alternate universes within a giant multiverse has grown from a sci-fi fantasy into a legitimate theoretical possibility. Several theories of physics and astronomy have hypothesized the existence of a multiverse made of many parallel universes. One obvious question that arises, then, is exactly how many of these parallel universes might there be.

Double Nucleus Galaxies: Ravenous Black Holes And Ripples In Space-Time Continuum   Science Daily - September 15, 2009
It may sound like science fiction, but freakish galactic events such as ravenous black holes and ripples in the space-time continuum could be happening all around us, according to new research. Astronomers examined 50 regular galaxies to determine their composition and structure, and found that 12 of these galaxies contained a double nucleus -- that is, they had both a super massive black hole and a dense star cluster containing up to ten million stars at their center.

'Magnetic electricity' discovered   BBC - October 14, 2009
Researchers have discovered a magnetic equivalent to electricity: single magnetic charges that can behave and interact like electrical ones. The work is the first to make use of the magnetic monopoles that exist in special crystals known as spin ice. Writing in Nature journal, a team showed that monopoles gather to form a "magnetic current" like electricity. The phenomenon, dubbed "magnetricity", could be used in magnetic storage or in computing. Magnetic monopoles were first predicted to exist over a century ago, as a perfect analogue to electric charges. Although there are protons and electrons with net positive and negative electric charges, there were no particles in existence which carry magnetic charges. Rather, every magnet has a "north" and "south" pole.

Physicists Measure Elusive 'Persistent Current' That Flows Forever   PhysOrg - October 13, 2009

Physicists have made the first definitive measurements of "persistent current," a small but perpetual electric current that flows naturally through tiny rings of metal wire even without an external power source. PPhysicists at Yale University have made the first definitive measurements of “persistent current,” a small but perpetual electric current that flows naturally through tiny rings of metal wire even without an external power source.

Mice Levitated in Lab   Live Science - September 9, 2009
Scientists have now levitated mice using magnetic fields. Other researchers have made live frogs and grasshoppers float in mid-air before, but such research with mice, being closer biologically to humans, could help in studies to counteract bone loss due to reduced gravity over long spans of time, as might be expected in deep space missions or on the surfaces of other planets. Scientists working on behalf of NASA built a device to simulate variable levels of gravity. It consists of a superconducting magnet that generates a field powerful enough to levitate the water inside living animals, with a space inside warm enough at room temperature and large enough at 2.6 inches wide (6.6 cm) for tiny creatures to float comfortably in during experiments.

Can you see time?   BBC - September 11, 2009
Imagine if you could see time laid out in front of you, or surrounding your body. And you could physically point to specific dates in space. Important dates might stand out - birthdays, anniversaries. And you could scan a visible timeline - to check if you were available - whenever you made plans. No actual diary necessary. According to Julia Simner, a psychologist from the University of Edinburgh, there is a reasonable chance you can. And that you may use the experience, unconsciously, every day. Dr Simner studies synaesthesia - a condition caused by an unusually high number of connections between two areas of the brain's sensory cortex, making two senses inseparable. Synaesthetes, as they are known, have experiences that might seem extremely strange to any non-synaesthete. The extra connections might be between the brain area that processes colors and the area that processes language.

Lasers Turn Light Into Sound   Live Science - September 4, 2009
Developed by scientists at the Naval Research Laboratory, the technology has the potential to expand and improve both Naval and commercial underwater acoustic applications, including undersea communications, navigation and acoustic imaging. This process is made possible by the compression of laser pulses. Various colors of a laser travel at different speeds in water. These colors can be arranged so that the laser pulse compresses in time as it moves through water, which concentrates the light.

Rewriting General Relativity? Putting A New Model Of Quantum Gravity Under The Microscope   Science Daily - August 26, 2009

Scientists are trying to figure out to what extent a new theory of quantum gravity will reproduce general relativity -- the theory that currently explains, to very high accuracy, how masses curve spacetime and create the influence of gravity.

Science fiction breaks free from fantasy   BBC - August 26, 2009

Renowned physicist Dr Michio Kaku says that the world of science fiction may be closer to reality than fantasy. So if you thought that invisibility cloaks, time travel and teleportation were for the silver screen only, think again. Dr Kaku is a theoretical physicist and the co-founder of string field theory, a branch of string theory, often referred to as "the theory of everything".

'Hidden Portal' Concept Described: First Tunable Electromagnetic Gateway   Science Daily - August 14, 2009
While the researchers can't promise delivery to a parallel universe or a school for wizards, books like Pullman's Dark Materials and JK Rowling's Harry Potter are steps closer to reality now that researchers in China have created the first tunable electromagnetic gateway. The work is a further advance in the study of metamaterials.

Beyond the looking glass...   PhysOrg - August 13, 2009
While the researchers can't promise delivery to a parallel universe or a school for wizards, books like Pullman's Dark Materials and JK Rowling's Harry Potter are steps closer to reality now that researchers in China have created the first tunable electromagnetic gateway. Researchers describe the concept of a "a gateway that can block electromagnetic waves but that allows the passage of other entities" like a "'hidden portal' as mentioned in fictions."

Exploring The Standard Model Of Physics Without The High-energy Collider   Science Daily - August 13, 2009

Along with gravity, electromagnetism and the strong interaction that holds protons and neutrons together in the nucleus, the weak interaction is one of the four known fundamental forces. It is the force that allows the radioactive decay of a neutron into a proton - the basis of carbon dating – to occur. However, because it acts over such a short range – about a tenth of a percent the diameter of the proton – it is almost impossible to study its effect without large, high-energy particle accelerators. Theorists had predicted that the weak interaction between an atom's electrons and its nucleus could be quite large in Ytterbium (element 70 in the periodic table). To actually see this interaction, though, Dmitry Budker and his group at UC Berkeley had to carefully perform delicate measurements based on fundamental quantum mechanical effects and systematically eliminate other spurious signals.

Scientists Claim New State of Matter Created   Live Science - July 28, 2009
Scientists claim to have created a form of aluminum that's nearly transparent to extreme ultraviolet radiation and which is a new state of matter. It's an idea straight out of science fiction, featured in the movie "Star Trek IV." The normal states of matter are solid, liquid and gas, and a fourth state, called plasma, is a superheated gas considered more exotic. Other experiments have created strange states of matter for brief periods. This one, too, existed only briefly. To create the new, even more exotic stuff, a short pulse from a laser "knocked out" a core electron from every aluminum atom in a sample without disrupting the metal's crystalline structure, the researchers explain.

Transparent aluminium is 'new state of matter'   PhysOrg - July 27, 2009

Transparent aluminium' previously only existed in science fiction, featuring in the movie Star Trek IV, but the real material is an exotic new state of matter with implications for planetary science and nuclear fusion. n this week's Nature Physics an international team, led by Oxford University scientists, report that a short pulse from the FLASH laser ‘knocked out' a core electron from every aluminium atom in a sample without disrupting the metal's crystalline structure. This turned the aluminium nearly invisible to extreme ultraviolet radiation. ''What we have created is a completely new state of matter nobody has seen before,' said Professor Justin Wark of Oxford University's Department of Physics, one of the authors of the paper.

The Weakening Gravity-Dominated Cosmos Theory Thunderbolts - July 23, 2009

Neutron stars and their rapidly spinning pulsar manifestations are among the most outlandish creations bogging down modern astrophysics. Neutron stars were first proposed as a theoretical possibility in 1933 by Baade and Zwicky. In seeking an explanation for the energy released by supernovae (a term coined by Zwicky), they proposed that a supernova was the result of a normal star transitioning to a neutron star. They calculated that the supernova energy could be explained by the equivalent transformation of a stellar mass to energy following Einstein's E=mc^2 equation. Baade and Zwicky's new theory was founded on the assumption that the only energy available to a star is in the star itself. Unfortunately, at that time, no one understood that a star could be part of an immensely long electrical transmission line storing vast amounts of energy. However, in the late 1930s, Oppenheimer and Volkoff produced a theoretical equation of state that validated the neutron star concept. Ironically, despite this early theoretical work, even today there is no acceptable equation describing the state of neutron stars. Regardless, in 1968, shortly after the first pulsar was discovered, Thomas Gold proposed spinning neutron stars as a mechanical explanation for the pulsed radio emissions.

  NASA Mission Gets Closer to Solving Magnetic Reconnection Mystery   PhysOrg - July 21, 2009
MMS consists of four identical satellites that will fly in a tetrahedron formation through Earth's magnetosphere to discover how magnetic reconnection works. When magnetic fields become tangled, as they often do in the magnetosphere, they can merge together creating an explosive release of energy, whereby magnetic energy is converted directly into heat and charged-particle kinetic energy. Magnetic reconnection sparks solar flares, powers auroras, and even pops up in nuclear fusion chambers (tokamaks) on Earth. It is the ultimate driver of space weather impacting human technologies such as communications, navigation, and power grids.

Physicists Propose Scheme for Teleporting Light Beams   PhysOrg - July 15, 2009
Usually when physicists talk about quantum teleportation, they're referring to the transfer of quantum states from one particle to another without a physical link. Now, physicists have investigated a slightly different form of teleportation, in which they teleport a quantum field, or an entire beam of light, from one location to another. This kind of "strong" teleportation is required for some quantum information applications, and could lead to the teleportation of quantum images.

Light's Repulsive Force Discovered   Live Science - July 13, 2009

A newly discovered repulsive aspect to light could one day control telecommunications devices with greater speed and less power, researchers said today. The discovery was made by splitting infrared light into two beams that each travel on a different length of silicon nanowire, called a waveguide. The two light beams became out of phase with one another, creating a push, or repulsive force, with an intensity that can be controlled; the more out of phase the two light beams, the stronger the force.

Physical reality of string theory demonstrated   PhysOrg - July 6, 2009
String theory has come under fire in recent years. Promises have been made that have not been lived up to. Leiden (The Netherlands) theoretical physicists have now for the first time used string theory to describe a physical phenomenon. Electrons can form a special kind of state, a so-called quantum critical state, that plays a role in high-temperature super-conductivity. Super-conductivity at high temperatures has long been a 'hot issue' in physics. In super-conductivity, discovered by Heike Kamerlingh Onnes in Leiden, electrons can zoom through a material without meeting any resistance.

Scientists develop novel ion trap for sensing force and light   PhysOrg - July 2, 2009

Miniature devices for trapping ions (electrically charged atoms) are common components in atomic clocks and quantum computing research. Now, a novel ion trap geometry demonstrated at the National Institute of Standards and Technology could usher in a new generation of applications because the device holds promise as a stylus for sensing very small forces or as an interface for efficient transfer of individual light particles for quantum communications.

Could Maxwell's Demon Exist in Nanoscale Systems?   PhysOrg - June 24, 2009

Maxwell's demon may be making a comeback. Physicists know that the demon, an imaginary creature that decreases the entropy of a system, cannot exist in macroscopic systems due to the energy it requires to perform its role. However, a recent study has shown that, on the nanoscale, Maxwell's demon might be able to do its work with much less energy than previously thought due to tiny thermal fluctuations that occur in small systems.

South Dakota: Work begins on world's deepest underground lab   PhysOrg - June 23, 2009

Far below the Black Hills of South Dakota, crews are building the world's deepest underground science lab at a depth equivalent to more than six Empire State buildings - a place uniquely suited to scientists' quest for mysterious particles known as dark matter. The site is ideal for experiments because its location is largely shielded from cosmic rays that could interfere with efforts to prove the existence of dark matter, which is thought to make up nearly a quarter of the mass of the universe. The deepest reaches of the mine plunge to 8,000 feet below the surface. Some early geology and hydrology experiments are already under way at 4,850 feet.

New method to detect quantum mechanical effects in ordinary objects   PhysOrg - June 22, 2009
At the quantum level, the atoms that make up matter and the photons that make up light behave in a number of seemingly bizarre ways. Particles can exist in "superposition," in more than one state at the same time (as long as we don't look), a situation that permitted Schrödinger's famed cat to be simultaneously alive and dead; matter can be "entangled" -- Albert Einstein called it "spooky action at a distance" -- such that one thing influences another thing, regardless of how far apart the two are.

Scientists discover magnetic superatoms   PhysOrg - June 15, 2009

A team of Virginia Commonwealth University scientists has discovered a 'magnetic superatom' - a stable cluster of atoms that can mimic different elements of the periodic table - that one day may be used to create molecular electronic devices for the next generation of faster computers with larger memory storage.

Strange Particle Created; May Rewrite How Matter's Made   National Geographic - March 21, 2009
An unexpected new subatomic particle has been discovered in Illinois's Fermilab atom smasher. The new particle may break all known rules for creating matter, say the researchers who created the oddity. Y(4140) - as the new particle has been dubbed - couldn't have formed through either of the two known models for matter creation. Researchers aren't even sure what Y(4140) is made of. It's long been accepted that six different "flavors" of particles called quarks combine to form larger subatomic particles.

Particle oddball surprises physicists   PhysOrg - March 18, 2009

Scientists of the CDF experiment at the Department of Energy's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory announced yesterday that they have found evidence of an unexpected particle whose curious characteristics may reveal new ways that quarks can combine to form matter. The CDF physicists have called the particle Y(4140), reflecting its measured mass of 4140 Mega-electron volts. Physicists did not predict its existence because Y(4140) appears to flout nature's known rules for fitting quarks and antiquarks together.

Quantum paradox directly observed -- a milestone in quantum mechanics   PhysOrg - March 4, 2009
In quantum mechanics, a vanguard of physics where science often merges into philosophy, much of our understanding is based on conjecture and probabilities, but a group of researchers in Japan has moved one of the fundamental paradoxes in quantum mechanics into the lab for experimentation and observed some of the 'spooky action of quantum mechanics' directly. Hardy's Paradox, the axiom that we cannot make inferences about past events that haven't been directly observed while also acknowledging that the very act of observation affects the reality we seek to unearth, poses a conundrum that quantum physicists have sought to overcome for decades. How do you observe quantum mechanics, atomic and sub-atomic systems that are so small-scale they cannot be described in classical terms, when the act of looking at them changes them permanently?

Scientists Create Light-Bending Nanoparticles   PhysOrg - March 4, 2009
Metallic nanoparticles and other structures can manipulate light in ways that are not possible with conventional optical materials. In a recent example of this, Rice University researchers discovered that cup-shaped gold nanostructures can bend light in a controllable way. The cups act like three-dimensional nano-antennas. When light interacts with nanoparticles and other tiny structures, many interesting and even dramatic physical effects can occur. For example, man-made "metamaterials" have very fine structures with features smaller than the wavelength of light, some just tens of atoms across, imparting them with unique and often intriguing optical behaviors. Metamaterials are of interest to scientists because they may be able to interact with light in ways that naturally occurring materials cannot.

Researchers discover a potential on-off switch for nanoelectronics   PhysOrg - March 4, 2009

As electronic circuits shrink from finely etched lines in silicon wafers to nearly elusive proportions, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Columbia University are studying how electrons flow through a molecular junctiona nanometer scale circuit element that contacts gold atoms with a single molecule. Their findings reveal the electrical resistance through this junction can be turned 'on' and 'off' simply by pushing and pulling the junction - a feature that could be used as a switch in nanoscale electronic devices.

  World first as scientists grow microtubes from crystals   PhysOrg - March 2, 2009

The discovery - published in Nature Chemistry's April edition - has major implications for the micro-fluidics industry with applications in medical sensing - through so called lab-on-a-chip devices - being one of the major prospects. The tiny tubes were observed sprouting from crystals of Keggin-net, a type of polyoxometalate which comprises large clusters of metal and oxygen atoms, seconds after they were immersed in water containing positively-charged organic molecules - or cations. Scientists were able to control the rate of tube growth, by varying the concentration of the cation solution, and the direction of growth by altering the polarity of electrodes placed around the crystals. By injecting a fluorescent dye into the tubes they demonstrated the tubes were also water tight.

Researchers see exotic force for first time   PhysOrg - January 7, 2009

For the first time, researchers have measured a long-theorized force that operates at distances so tiny they're measured in billionths of a meter, which may have important applications in nanotechnology as scientists and engineers seek new ways to create devices far too small for the eye to see.

Physicists offer foundation for uprooting a hallowed principle of physics   PhysOrg - January 5, 2009
Physicists at Indiana University have developed a promising new way to identify a possible abnormality in a fundamental building block of Einstein's theory of relativity known as "Lorentz invariance." If confirmed, the abnormality would disprove the basic tenet that the laws of physics remain the same for any two objects traveling at a constant speed or rotated relative to one another.

Hints of 'time before Big Bang' BBC - June 7, 2008
A team of physicists has claimed that our view of the early Universe may contain the signature of a time before the Big Bang. The discovery comes from studying the cosmic microwave background (CMB), light emitted when the Universe was just 400,000 years old. Their model may help explain why we experience time moving in a straight line from yesterday into tomorrow. Their model suggests that new universes could be created spontaneously from apparently empty space. From inside the parent universe, the event would be surprisingly unspectacular.

HoloVizio: Holodeck 1.0? Star Trek-style 3-D displays make their debut PhysOrg - June 6, 2008

The HoloVizio is a 3-D screen that will allow designers to visualise true 3-D models of cars, engines or components. Better yet, gesture recognition means that observers can manipulate the models by waving their hands in front of the screen. The function offers enormous scope for collaboration across the globe.

3D breakthrough with updatable holographic displays PhysOrg - February 7, 2008

University of Arizona optical scientists have broken a technological barrier by making three-dimensional holographic displays that can be erased and rewritten in a matter of minutes. The holographic displays - which are viewed without special eyewear - are the first updatable three-dimensional displays with memory ever to be developed, making them ideal tools for medical, industrial and military applications that require "situational awareness."

3-D Holography Breakthrough: Erase And Rewrite In Minutes Science Daily - February 7, 2008
Researchers are the first to create 3-D holographic displays that can be erased and rewritten in minutes. The holographic displays -- which are viewed without special eyewear -- are the first updatable three-dimensional displays with memory ever to be developed, making them ideal tools for medical, industrial and military applications that require "situational awareness." Dynamic hologram displays could be made into devices that help surgeons track progress during lengthy and complex brain surgeries, show airline or fighter pilots any hazards within their entire surrounding airspace, or give emergency response teams nearly real-time views of fast-changing flood or traffic problems, for example.

Holography Wikipedia

Blacker Than Black: Darkest Manmade Material Ever Made Science Daily - January 23, 2008

Researchers have created the darkest material ever made by man. The material, a thin coating comprised of low-density arrays of loosely vertically-aligned carbon nanotubes, absorbs more than 99.9 percent of light and one day could be used to boost the effectiveness and efficiency of solar energy conversion, infrared sensors and other devices. The researchers who developed the material have applied for a Guinness World Record for their efforts

Acoustic "Invisibility" Cloaks Possible, Study Says Live Science - January 23, 2008

If sound could bend around objects in just the right way, submarines could evade sonar detection and large beams and columns wouldn't obstruct concert-hall acoustics. This type of acoustic invisibility is possible, according to physicists who hope to develop the theoretical sound-wave-bending materials. The result would be a shell that acts as an acoustic cloak—something like an invisibility cloak, but for sound, not light. Sound waves would bend around a cloaked object and then continue on their original courses. It would appear as though they had passed directly through the shell, "as if nothing had been there at all," said Steven Cummer of Duke University, lead author of a new study.

Trick of Light Bends Beams Live Science - December 21, 2007

Light beams are supposed to be perfectly straight, aren't they? Yet a new trick of optics now appears to make light rays curve in midair. Light beams can get curved if they pass through areas where space-time is warped by powerful gravitational fields, such as one created by a black hole - a phenomenon known as gravitational lensing. But the new technique scientists have developed to manipulate light does not involve warping space-time. Instead, researchers at the University of Central Florida employed a liquid crystal display (LCD) screen - like those found on pocket calculators and laptops - about the size of a watch. The 500,000 pixels of this screen were programmed to control how light rays passing through each of them got bent.

Mirror particles form new matter BBC - September 13, 2007

Fragile particles rarely seen in our Universe have been merged with ordinary electrons to make a new form of matter. Di-positronium, as the new molecule is known, was predicted to exist in 1946 but has remained elusive to science. Now, a US team has created thousands of the molecules by merging electrons with their antimatter equivalent: positrons.

Could Physicists Make A Time Machine? It All Depends On Curving Space-time Science Daily - August 23, 2007

Researchers have developed a theoretical model of a time machine that, in the distant future, could possibly enable future generations to travel into the past. The main question is: if, according to the principles of curvature development in the theory of relativity, can a time machine be created? In other words, can we cause space-time to curve in such a way as to enable travel back in time? Such a journey requires a significant curvature of space-time, in a very special form.

Could Light Behave As A Solid? A New Theory Science Daily - May 7, 2007
Researchers from the Universities of Melbourne and Cambridge have unveiled a new theory that shows light can behave like a solid. Solid light will help us build the technology of this century.

Mathematicians Design Invisible Tunnel Scientific American - May 6, 2007

Electromagnetic "wormhole" results from turning invisible sphere inside out

Was Einstein right? Scientists provide first public peek at Gravity Probe B results - April 16, 2007

For the past three years a satellite has circled the Earth, collecting data to determine whether two predictions of Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity are correct. Saturday, at the American Physical Society meeting in Jacksonville, Fla., Professor Francis Everitt, a Stanford University physicist and principal investigator of the Gravity Probe B (GP-B) Relativity Mission, a collaboration of Stanford, NASA and Lockheed Martin, provided the first public peek at data that will reveal whether Einstein's theory has been confirmed by the most sophisticated orbiting laboratory ever created.

Einstein was right, probe shows BBC - April 16, 2007
One of the effects is called the geodetic effect, the other is called frame dragging. A common analogy is that of placing a heavy bowling ball on to a rubber sheet.

A Step Toward Fusion Energy Science Daily - March 12, 2007
The research team, headed by electrical and computer engineering Professor David Anderson and research assistant John Canik, recently proved that the Helically Symmetric eXperiment (HSX), an odd-looking magnetic plasma chamber called a stellarator, can overcome a major barrier in plasma research, in which stellarators lose too much energy to reach the high temperatures needed for fusion. Published in a recent issue of Physical Review Letters, the new results show that the unique design of the HSX in fact loses less energy, meaning that fusion in this type of stellarator could be possible.

Physicists stop light, then restart it News in Science - February 8, 2007
Scientists have made a tiny pulse of light stop, jump from one group of atoms to another and then continue on its way. The experiments, conducted at Harvard University, are consistent with quantum mechanics, the laws governing the behavior of atoms that Albert Einstein postulated in the 1920s at a time when it was technically impossible to prove him right or wrong. But scientists say the results, published today in the journal Nature, are still startling because they were so hard to demonstrate and because of their potential applications.

Self-assembling Nano-ice Discovered -- Structure Resembles DNA Science Daily - December 13, 2006
Working at the frontier between chemistry and physics, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Xiao Cheng Zeng usually finds his reward in discovering the unexpected through computer modeling. Zeng and his colleagues regularly find new and often unanticipated behaviors of matter in extreme environments, and those discoveries have been published several times in major international scientific journals. Their findings, though, have been so far ahead of existing technology that their immediate practical impact was essentially nil -- until now.