If the Tevatron was a metal detector sweeping across a proverbial beach, the beeps of discovery would have been coming in very close succession at the end of its life. It was, we have learned, extremely close to finding the treasured Higgs boson ... and then, last September, it shut down. Only another, more powerful detector, owned by someone else, will finally be able to grab it.
By Mark AndersPosted 06.28.2012 at 5:17 pm 8 Comments
At the Olympic level, where cyclists are in roughly the same physical condition, the difference between victory and defeat often boils down to a bike's aerodynamics. The more smoothly air flows over a frame and rider, the less wind resistance he will feel and the faster he'll go.
As Moore's Law continues its march, there's the ever-present threat of stuff getting too small to get any smaller. It might be time to tally another one against Moore: Scientists are taking the next logical step and storing images in atomic vapor.
Teleportation, sci-fi-y as it sounds, is actually not fictional or even new; two years ago, Chinese physicists broke the then-current record for quantum teleportation by teleporting photons over 10 miles. But a new effort from that same team demolishes that record, beaming the photons over 97 kilometers.
Metamaterials hold the elusive promise of the true invisibility cloak, one that bends light right around objects to make them invisible to viewers. But most metamaterials with any kind of potential can only be fabricated in very small sizes, and even the ones that work well--and there are a few--generally don't work in the visible spectrum.
In a case that's somewhat chicken-and-egg, one of the many reasons computer scientists and physicists are pursuing a working quantum computer is to model quantum systems themselves. Modeling some quantum properties for systems even with a just a few dozen particles is impossible on even the biggest conventional supercomputers, and the pursuit of new materials and next-level science requires that we find a way to do so.
Silicon semiconductors have taken us a dazzling distance along the computing road. But even if they continue unabated to get faster and more powerful (and it's growing more difficult to make that happen) there's a limit to what classical computing can do.
The next real game-change in computing is quantum--tapping the quantum mechanical properties of materials to process information in ways that will make today's biggest and baddest super computers look like pocket calculators. And for the first time scientists, at places like IBM, are moving beyond just theorizing about them to actually envisioning how a finished quantum computer would work. In labs across the globe, the first building blocks of the first quantum computers are slowly becoming real.
That's huge considering a working quantum computer would be the kind of thing that truly moves the ground beneath our feet. With a relatively modest quantum computer, scientists could slice through sophisticated encryption schemes, model quantum systems with unprecedented accuracy, and filter through complex, unstructured databases with unparalleled efficiency.
But first they have to build one.
A group of scientists at the Catalan Institute of Nanotechnology have created a new scale (and process for weighing) that increases the accuracy of small-scale, um, scales to new heights. Their new scale, which uses short nanotubes at very low temperatures, was able to measure the vibration of items down to a single yoctogram, one septillionth of a gram. For some (possible helpful) scale (that word again!), a single proton weighs 1.7 yoctograms. The scale could be used in the future for medical diagnostics as well as research. [via Nature]
Professor Antonio Ereditato, the man who found neutrinos traveling faster than light late last year, has resigned from his job at the Gran Sasso physics laboratory in Italy. Attempts to reproduce the amazing superluminal result were not successful, and the finding was eventually blamed on a loose cable.
The notion of a person flying like a bird has universal and enduring appeal, so it's not surprising that the "Human Bird Wings" video from "Jarno Smeets" went viral within a few days. However, now that it has been revealed to be an elaborate hoax, eight months in the making, and now that our dreams have been thusly dashed, let's examine a scientific red flag in the video, one that when pursued bursts the entire fantastical premise: the problem of speed. Watch the video: He really isn't moving very fast when he lifts up off the ground, so it doesn't look quite right. Let's analyze that.