Physics in the News





Taming the multiverse: Stephen Hawking's final theory about the big bang   Science Daily - May 3, 2018
The theory, which was submitted for publication before Hawking's death earlier this year, is based on string theory and predicts the universe is finite and far simpler than many current theories about the big bang say.




Physicists find signs of a time crystal a form of matter that 'ticks' when exposed to an electromagnetic pulse -- in the last place they expected: a crystal you might find in a child's toy   Science Daily - May 3, 2018
The discovery means there are now new puzzles to solve, in terms of how time crystals form in the first place. Ordinary crystals such as salt or quartz are examples of three-dimensional, ordered spatial crystals. Their atoms are arranged in a repeating system, something scientists have known for a century. Time crystals, first identified in 2016, are different. Their atoms spin periodically, first in one direction and then in another, as a pulsating force is used to flip them. That's the "ticking." In addition, the ticking in a time crystal is locked at a particular frequency, even when the pulse flips are imperfect. Scientists say that understanding time crystals may lead to improvements in atomic clocks, gyroscopes, and magnetometers, as well as aid in building potential quantum technologies. The U.S. Department of Defense recently announced a program to fund more research into time crystal systems.




Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paradox observed in many-particle system for the first time   Science Daily - April 27, 2018
Physicists have observed the quantum mechanical Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paradox in a system of several hundred interacting atoms for the first time. The phenomenon dates back to a famous thought experiment from 1935. It allows measurement results to be predicted precisely and could be used in new types of sensors and imaging methods for electromagnetic fields.




Quantum physicists achieve entanglement record   PhysOrg - April 16, 2018

Physically, entangled particles cannot be described as individual particles with defined states, but only as a complete system. It is particularly difficult to understand entanglement when numerous particles are involved. Here, a distinction must be made between the entanglement of individual particles and genuine multi-particle entanglement. This can only be understood as a property of the overall system of all particles concerned, and cannot be explained by a combination of the subsystems being entangled.




Is Dark Matter Made Up of Mini Black Holes from the Big Bang?   Live Science - April 6, 2018
Dark matter, the mysterious extra mass in the universe that emits no light yet exerts a gravitational pull, may actually be made up of primordial black holes that originated with the Big Bang. And these mini black holes can thank the Higgs boson for their birth - at least according to a new theory. This theory posits that these primeval black holes were created from instabilities in the field that gives rise to the Higgs Boson, the mysterious "God" particle discovered at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).




A Second 'Big Bang' Could End Our Universe in an Instant, Thanks to The Higgs Boson   Science Alert - April 5, 2018
Our universe may end the same way it was created: with a big, sudden bang. That's according to new research from a group of Harvard physicists, who found that the destabilization of the Higgs boson - a tiny quantum particle that gives other particles mass - could lead to an explosion of energy that would consume everything in the known universe and upend the laws of physics and chemistry.




Finding order in disorder demonstrates a new state of matter   Science Daily - April 2, 2018
Physicists have identified a new state of matter whose structural order operates by rules more aligned with quantum mechanics than standard thermodynamic theory. In a classical material called artificial spin ice, which in certain phases appears disordered, the material is actually ordered, but in a "topological" form.




Massive astrophysical objects governed by subatomic equation   PhysOrg - March 5, 2018
Quantum mechanics is the branch of physics governing the sometimes-strange behavior of the tiny particles that make up our universe. Equations describing the quantum world are generally confined to the subatomic realm - the mathematics relevant at very small scales is not relevant at larger scales, and vice versa. However, a surprising new discovery from a Caltech researcher suggests that the Schrodinger Equation - the fundamental equation of quantum mechanics - is remarkably useful in describing the long-term evolution of certain astronomical structures. Massive astronomical objects are frequently encircled by groups of smaller objects that revolve around them, like the planets around the sun. For example, supermassive black holes are orbited by swarms of stars, which are themselves orbited by enormous amounts of rock, ice, and other space debris. Due to gravitational forces, these huge volumes of material form into flat, round disks. These disks, made up of countless individual particles orbiting en masse, can range from the size of the solar system to many light-years across.




Physicists create new form of light   Science Daily - February 15, 2018
Try a quick experiment: Take two flashlights into a dark room and shine them so that their light beams cross. Notice anything peculiar? The rather anticlimactic answer is, probably not. That's because the individual photons that make up light do not interact. Instead, they simply pass each other by, like indifferent spirits in the night.




4D World: Light Moving In Fourth Dimension Observed During Quantum Hall Experiment   IBTimes - January 9, 2018
Two experiments used different methods in a two-dimensional space to simulate a four-dimensional one. In one setup, the scientists used lasers to create 2D pathways through glass and then sent lightwaves through. In another, they used crisscrossed laser beams to influence the motion of super cold atoms. With both of the systems, they were seemingly forcing the materials inside to move within another dimension, a simulated one. Although they could not physically see that dimension they were building, the scientists observed the material sent through their experiments to find evidence of the fourth-dimensional quantum Hall effect. Quantum Hall Effect




Physicists studying atomic spin surprised themselves by discovering that spinning protons bizarrely change direction when they crash into larger particles, like the nuclei of gold atoms   Newsweek - January 9, 2018
Their findings may mean that the mechanisms producing particles along the direction in which the spinning proton is traveling may be very different in proton-proton collisions compared with proton-nucleus collisions. Proton-proton collisions usually produce right-skewing effects. But large nuclei, like gold, have large positive electric charges, and because of that, the electromagnetic interaction between the two colliding particles becomes a much more dynamic force than it is for two protons, which aside from being smaller also have equal charges, according to Brookhaven National Laboratory. That unequal electromagnetic charge is what causes the incoming proton to switch preference and rocket off to the left.




Four-dimensional physics in two dimensions   Science Daily - January 3, 2018
For the first time, physicists have built a two-dimensional experimental system that allows them to study the physical properties of materials theorized to exist only in four-dimensional space. An international team of researchers demonstrated that the behavior of particles of light can be made to match predictions about the four-dimensional version of the 'quantum Hall effect' -- a phenomenon at the root of three Nobel Prizes in physics -- in a two-dimensional array of 'waveguides.'




Physicists say they've confirmed new form of matter in a breakthrough of 'cosmic significance'   Live Science - December 9, 2017
Nearly 50 years after it was first theorized, physicists claim they’ve finally proven the existence of a new form of matter, known as ‘excitonium.’ Excitonium is made up of particles known as excitons, which are made from an escaped electron and the hole it left behind. In the new experiments, the researchers say they were able to observe the material and the precursor phase, which is said to be the ‘smoking gun’ proof of its existence.




'Angel particle' which is both matter and anti-matter is discovered after an 80-year quest in a 'landmark' breakthrough for quantum physics   Daily Mail - July 21, 2017
Researchers revealed that they have found the first evidence of the elusive particles in what is being described as a 'landmark' moment in quantum physics. The discovery could help scientists to bring a quantum computing revolution, which would allow us to make machines many times more powerful than those made using existing technology.Scientists have theorized that when the Big Bang first created the universe, equal amounts of matter and anti-matter were produced. Anti-matter is made from particles which are the 'anti-particles' of those from normal matter.




Here's How Scientists Teleported the First Object Into Space   Seeker - July 13, 2017
Chinese researchers successfully realized ground-to-satellite quantum teleportation using a photon particle - a feat that could one day make for a better and more secure internet. Scientists from China have just performed the first ever quantum teleportation from Earth to space. Does this mean we are now living in the future envisioned in Star Trek? Actually, no physical matter was actually “beamed up,” unfortunately - just photons. But this breakthrough might make for a better and more secure internet in the future. "Quantum teleportation brings to mind Star Trek’s transporter, where crew members are disassembled in one location to be reassembled in another. Real quantum teleportation is a much more subtle effect where information is transferred between entangled quantum states. It’s a quantum trick that could give us the ultimate in secure communication.




  Another Universe May Have Bumped Into Ours and We Might Have Proof   Seeker - July 7, 2017
The question isn't are we alone in the universe, it's are we alone in these universes? According to a bit of the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (CMB) we might have a neighbor. The CMB is the leftover light from the Big Bang itself. It's the furthest thing from us in the visible universe. It's all around us constantly, but it's super low-energy, because, again, it's been around since the beginning of the universe. Over time, we've taken the CMB's temperature, mapped it in increasing detail and in doing so we found something curious.




Physicists create 'negative mass'   Science Daily - April 17, 2017
Physicists have created a fluid with negative mass, which is exactly what it sounds like. Push it, and unlike every physical object in the world we know, it doesn't accelerate in the direction it was pushed. It accelerates backwards. The phenomenon is rarely created in laboratory conditions and can be used to explore some of the more challenging concepts of the cosmos. Hypothetically, matter can have negative mass in the same sense that an electric charge can be either negative or positive. People rarely think in these terms, and our everyday world sees only the positive aspects of Isaac Newton's Second Law of Motion, in which a force is equal to the mass of an object times its acceleration, or F=ma. In other words, if you push an object, it will accelerate in the direction you're pushing it. Mass will accelerate in the direction of the force.




'Blurred times' in a quantum world   PhysOrg - March 9, 2017
When measuring time, we normally assume that clocks do not affect space and time, and that time can be measured with infinite accuracy at nearby points in space. However, combining quantum mechanics and Einstein's theory of general relativity theoretical physicists from the University of Vienna and the Austrian Academy of Sciences have demonstrated a fundamental limitation for our ability to measure time. The more precise a given clock is, the more it "blurs" the flow of time measured by neighboring clocks. As a consequence, the time shown by the clocks is no longer well defined.




How disturbances interact with a dynamic space-time fabric: 'Field patterns' as a new mathematical object   Science Daily - February 15, 2017

Mathematicians propose a theoretical framework to understand how waves and other disturbances move through materials in conditions that vary in both space and time. The theory is called 'field patterns' - characteristic patterns of how disturbances react to changing conditions. Because field patterns exhibit characteristics of both propagating waves and localized particles, field pattern theory may answer some of the questions posed by quantum mechanics, in which objects can be treated as both particles and waves.




Physicists demonstrate existence of new subatomic structure once thought unlikely to exist   PhysOrg - November 4, 2016
Researchers used sophisticated supercomputer simulations to show the quasi-stable existence of a tetraneutron, a structure comprised of four neutrons (subatomic particles with no charge).




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.




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   Telegraph.co.uk - 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 SPACE.com. 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 arXiv.org 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.




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