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This page is dedicated to My Grandson Brandon.

(Branstein)

***IN STOCK***
 HOLOGRAPHIC

UNIVERSE

by Chuck Missler

DVD

PRICE R 159.00

 

 

 

 

This DVD includes notes in PDF format and M4A files.


This briefing pack contains 2 hours of teachings

Available in the following formats

Session 1

• Epistemology 101: How do we “know”?

– Scientific Myths of the Past

– Scientific Myths of the Present

• The Macrocosm: The Plasma Universe: Gravitational Presumption?

• The Microcosm: The Planck Wall

• The Metacosm: Fracture of Hyperspace?

Session 2


• The Holographic Model: David Bohm

• GEO 600 “Noise”

• The Black Hole Paradox

– String Theorists examine the elephant

• A Holographic Universe:

– Distances are synthetic (virtual) images

– A Geocentric Cosmology?

– Some Scriptural Perspective(s)

 

 

“One can’t believe impossible things,”

Alice laughed.

“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,”

said the Queen.

“When I was your age, I always did it for

half-an-hour a day.

Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many

as six impossible things before breakfast.”

Through the Looking Glass

Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson)
 

DVD:

1 Disc
2 M4A Files
Color, Fullscreen 16:9, Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo, Region  This DVD will be viewable in other countries WITH the proper DVD player and television set.)
 

M4A File Video

Can be burned to disc and played on MP4 compatible DVD players.
Playable on iPod, iPhone, iPod Touch
Playable on any MP4 player
1 PDF Notes File
2 MP3 Files


 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured Briefing

A Holographic Universe?

by Dr. Chuck Missler

Are we actually living in a holographic universe? Are the distant galaxies only a virtual illusion? In a hologram, distances are synthetic! How does this impact our concepts of time and space?

There seems to be growing evidence to suggest that our world and everything in it may be only ghostly images, projections from a level of reality so beyond our own that the real reality is literally beyond both space and time.1

The Cosmos As a Super-Hologram?

An initiating architect of this astonishing idea was one of the world’s most eminent thinkers: University of London physicist David Bohm, a protégé of Einstein’s and one of the world’s most respected quantum physicists. Bohm’s work in plasma physics in the 1950s is considered a landmark. Earlier, at the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory, he noticed that in plasmas (ionized gases) the particles stopped behaving as individuals and started behaving as if they were part of a larger and interconnected whole. Moving to Princeton University in 1947, there, too, he continued his work in the behavior of oceans of ionized particles, noting their highly organized overall effects and their behavior, as if they knew what each of the untold trillions of individual particles was doing.

One of the implications of Bohm’s view has to do with the nature of location. Bohm’s interpretation of quantum physics indicated that at the subquantum level location ceased to exist. All points in space become equal to all other points in space, and it was meaningless to speak of anything as being separate from anything else. Physicists call this property “nonlocality”. The web of subatomic particles that compose our physical universe—the very fabric of “reality” itself—possesses what appears to be an undeniable “holographic” property. Paul Davis of the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, England, observed that since all particles are continually interacting and separating, “the nonlocal aspects of quantum systems is therefore a general property of nature.”2

The Nature of Reality

One of Bohm’s most startling suggestions was that the tangible reality of our everyday lives is really a kind of illusion, like a holographic image. Underlying it is a deeper order of existence, a vast and more primary level of reality that gives birth to all the objects and appearances of our physical world in much the same way that a piece of holographic film gives birth to a hologram. Bohm calls this deeper level of reality the implicate (“enfolded”) order and he refers to our level of existence the explicate (unfolded) order.3 This view is not inconsistent with the Biblical presentation of the physical (“explicate”) world as being subordinate to the spiritual (“implicate”) world as the superior reality.4

The Search for Gravity Waves

Gravitational waves are extremely small ripples in the structure of spacetime caused by astrophysical events like supernovae or coalescing massive binaries (neutron stars, black holes). They had been predicted by Albert Einstein in 1916, but not yet directly observed.

GEO 600 is a gravitational wave detector located near Sarstedt, Germany, which seeks to detect gravitational waves by means of a laser interferometer of 600 meter arms’ length. This instrument, and its sister interferometric detectors, are some of the most sensitive gravitational wave detectors ever designed. They are designed to detect relative changes in distance of the order of 10-21, about the size of a single atom compared to the distance from the Earth to the Sun! Construction on the project began in 1995.

Mystery Noise

On January 15, 2009, it was reported in New Scientist that some yet unidentified noise that was present in the GEO 600 detector measurements might be because the instrument is sensitive to extremely small quantum fluctuations of space-time affecting the positions of parts of the detector. This claim was made by Craig Hogan, a scientist from Fermilab, on the basis of his theory of how such fluctuations should occur motivated by the holographic principle.5 Apparently, the gravitational wave detector in Hannover may have detected evidence for a holographic Universe!

Gravitational Wave Observatories Join Forces

A number of major projects will now pool their data to analyze it, jointly boosting their chances of spotting a faint signal that might otherwise be hidden by detector noise. Using lasers, they measure the length between mirrored test masses hung inside tunnels at right angles to each other. Gravitational waves decrease the distance between the masses in one tunnel and increase it in the other by a tiny, but detectable amount. Combining the data will also make it possible to triangulate to find the source of any gravitational waves detected. These include: Laser Interferometer Gravitational Observatory based in Hanford, Washington and Livingston, Louisiana; Virgo Observatory, Pisa Italy; and, of course, the GEO 600 Observatory near Hanover, Germany.

The most ambitious of them is the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA), a joint mission between NASA and the European Space Agency to develop and operate a space-based gravitational wave detector sensitive at frequencies between 0.03 mHz and 0.1 Hz. LISA seeks to detect gravitational-wave induced strains in space-time by measuring changes of the separation between fiducial masses in three spacecraft 5 million kilometers apart.

Cosmic Implications

Are we actually living in a holographic universe? Are the distant galaxies only a virtual illusion? In a hologram, distances are synthetic! How does this impact our concepts of time and space?

It gets even worse: Could our universe be geocentric? The implications are too staggering to embrace. The holographic paradigm is still a developing concept and riddled with controversies. For decades, science has chosen to ignore evidences that do not fit their standard theories. However, the volume of evidence has now reached the point that denial is no longer a viable option.

Clearly, 20th-century science has discovered that our “macrocosm”—studies of largeness—is finite, not infinite. Our universe is finite and had a beginning, and that’s what has led to the “big bang” speculations. We also realize that gravity is dramatically eclipsed by electromagnetic considerations when dealing with galaxies, etc. The plasma physicists have been trying to tell astronomers that for decades but no one was listening.

What is even more shocking has been the discoveries in the “microcosm”—studies of smallness—that run up against the “Planck Wall” of the non-location of subatomic particles, and the many strange paradoxes of quantum physics. We now discover that we are in a virtual reality that is a digital, simulated environment. The bizarre realization that the “constants” of physics are changing indicates that our “reality” is “but a shadow of a larger reality,”6 and that’s what the Bible has maintained all along!7

The Bible is, of course, unique in that it has always presented a universe of more than three dimensions,8 and revealed a Creator that is transcendent over His creation. It is the only “holy book” that demonstrates these contemporary insights. It’s time for us to spend more time with the handbook that the Creator has handed to us. It is the ultimate adventure, indeed!

For background information on the Holographic Universe, see our briefing series, The Beyond Collection, available on DVD and other formats, in the Christmas catalog insert in this issue.


Notes

  1. We explore the limitations of the Macrocosm, the Microcosm, and the super-embracing “Metacosm” in our Beyond Series.
  2. Paul Davis, Superforce, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1948, p.48.
  3. This is reminiscent of the Red King’s dream in Through the Looking Glass, in which Alice finds herself in deep metaphysical waters when the Tweedle brothers defend the view that all material objects, including ourselves, are only “sorts of things” in the mind of God.
  4. 2 Corinthians 4:18.
  5. Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), located just outside Batavia, Illinois, near Chicago, is a US Department of Energy national laboratory specializing in high-energy particle physics. (Craig Hogan was then put in charge…)
  6. Scientific American, June 2005, “The Inconstancy of Constants”.
  7. Hebrews 11:3; John 1:1-3; et al.
  8. Ephesians 3:18. Nachmonides, writing in the 13th century, concluded, from his studies of the Genesis texts, that our universe has ten dimensions, of which only four are directly “knowable”.
 
 

 

Published on Jan 28, 2015

Chuck Missler had the opportunity to sit discuss Zero Point Energy (ZPE) with Barry Setterfield 
Space News from SpaceDaily.com
 

Space News From SpaceDaily.Com

 

 
 

China's Hypersonic Glide Vehicle: A Threat to the United States

 
‎20 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎09:07:23 AMGo to full article
New Delhi, India (SPX) Feb 18, 2015
Beijing's significant military advance has been furthered with its venture into hypersonic weapons systems. China is working on hypersonic cruise missiles for which it is working on scramjet engines and also on Hypersonic Glide Vehicle (HGV). In 2014, Beijing has conducted three test-firings of its HGV, the Wu-14. The first test-firing was conducted in January, while the second one was con
 

NASA preparing to reassemble International Space Station

 
‎20 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎09:07:23 AMGo to full article
Washington (UPI) Feb 19, 2015
On Friday, astronauts aboard the International Space Station will initiate the station's first reassembly in several years. The station will be reconfigured to create two new docking ports for the space taxis NASA hopes to have launched by the end of 2017 as part of its Commercial Crew program. The first of three assembly spacewalks will be conducted on Friday by NASA astronauts Barry W
 

In the quantum world, the future affects the past

 
‎20 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎09:07:23 AMGo to full article
St. Louis MO (SPX) Feb 18, 2015
We're so used murder mysteries that we don't even notice how mystery authors play with time. Typically the murder occurs well before the midpoint of the book, but there is an information blackout at that point and the reader learns what happened then only on the last page. If the last page were ripped out of the book, physicist Kater Murch, PhD, said, would the reader be better off guessin
 

The mystery of cosmic oceans and dunes

 
‎20 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎09:07:23 AMGo to full article
Tokyo, Japan (SPX) Feb 20, 2015
Simulations by researchers at Tokyo Institute of Technology and Tsinghua University indicate that Earth-like planets are more likely to be found orbiting Sun-like stars rather than lower-mass stars that are currently targeted, in terms of water contents of planets. The search for habitable planets currently focuses on so-called M dwarfs - stars with less than half the mass of the Sun. Thes
 

Dark matter guides growth of supermassive black holes

 
‎20 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎09:07:23 AMGo to full article
Boston MA (SPX) Feb 20, 2015
Every massive galaxy has a black hole at its center, and the heftier the galaxy, the bigger its black hole. But why are the two related? After all, the black hole is millions of times smaller and less massive than its home galaxy. A new study of football-shaped collections of stars called elliptical galaxies provides new insights into the connection between a galaxy and its black hole. It
 

Why do starburst galaxies 'burst'?

 
‎20 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎09:07:23 AMGo to full article
Washington DC (SPX) Feb 20, 2015
Starburst galaxies transmute gas into new stars at a dizzying pace - up to 1,000 times faster than typical spiral galaxies like the Milky Way. To help understand why some galaxies "burst" while others do not, an international team of astronomers used the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) to dissect a cluster of star-forming clouds at the heart of NGC 253, one of the nearest sta
 

With new data, Planck satellite brings early universe into focus

 
‎20 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎09:07:23 AMGo to full article
Oxnard CA (SPX) Feb 20, 2015
From its orbit 930,000 miles above Earth, the Planck space telescope spent more than four years detecting the oldest light in the universe, called the cosmic microwave background. This fossil from the Big Bang fills every square inch of the sky and offers a glimpse of what the universe looked like almost 14 billion years ago, when it was just 380,000 years old. Planck's observations of thi
 

The strange case of the missing dwarf

 
‎20 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎09:07:23 AMGo to full article
Paris (SPX) Feb 20, 2015
Some pairs of stars consist of two normal stars with slightly different masses. When the star of slightly higher mass ages and expands to become a red giant, material is transferred to other star and ends up surrounding both stars in a huge gaseous envelope. When this cloud disperses the two move closer together and form a very tight pair with one white dwarf , and one more normal star [1].
 

For the first time, spacecraft catch a solar shockwave in the act

 
‎20 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎09:07:23 AMGo to full article
Boston MA (SPX) Feb 20, 2015
On Oct. 8, 2013, an explosion on the sun's surface sent a supersonic blast wave of solar wind out into space. This shockwave tore past Mercury and Venus, blitzing by the moon before streaming toward Earth. The shockwave struck a massive blow to the Earth's magnetic field, setting off a magnetized sound pulse around the planet. NASA's Van Allen Probes, twin spacecraft orbiting within the ra
 

The highest plume ever observed on Mars

 
‎20 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎09:07:23 AMGo to full article
Leioa, Spain (SPX) Feb 20, 2015
In the thin, cold, dry atmosphere of Mars the winds blow and raise the dust from the surface to an altitude of about 50 km. In its core thin clouds of ice and carbon dioxide crystallites are formed; they are the main component of the Martian atmosphere which on occasions can reach, at the most, altitudes of about 100 km. Spacecraft orbiting Mars have taken photos of the suspended dust and the hi
 

Stars akin to the sun also explode when they die

 
‎20 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎09:07:23 AMGo to full article
Granada, Spain (SPX) Feb 20, 2015
The birth of planetary nebulae, resulting from the death of low and intermediate mass stars, is usually thought of as a slow process, in contrast with the intense supernovae that massive stars produce. But a recent study led by researchers at the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia (IAA-CSIC) in collaboration with the Center for Astrobiology (CAB, CSIC/INTA) has revealed the fact that explosi
 

Mystery Mars plume baffles scientists

 
‎20 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎09:07:23 AMGo to full article
Paris (ESA) Feb 20, 2015
Plumes seen reaching high above the surface of Mars are causing a stir among scientists studying the atmosphere on the Red Planet. On two separate occasions in March and April 2012, amateur astronomers reported definite plume-like features developing on the planet. The plumes were seen rising to altitudes of over 250 km above the same region of Mars on both occasions. By comparison, simila
 

Up, Up and Away! First Humans Chosen for Mission to Mars

 
‎20 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎09:07:23 AMGo to full article
Moscow, Russia (Sputnik) Feb 20, 2015
One hundred people from around the world have been shortlisted for a mission to Mars. Fifty men and fifty women are all hoping to become the first human beings to walk on the red planet. They now face a series of tests to see how well they work under pressure, with part of the training to take place within a simulated Martian environment. The Mars One Project plans to set up a perman
 

Forget the Higgs Boson, Massively Upgraded LHC to Search for 'Squark'

 
‎20 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎09:07:23 AMGo to full article
Moscow, Russia (Sputnik) Feb 20, 2015
The Earth's most powerful particle accelerator is returning to action next month after a two-year break. Scientists working with the Large Hadron Collider [LHC] are optimistic of a new breakthrough in particle physics when the accelerator comes back online in March, after an upgrade of its equipment which will allow the instrument to fire particles at almost twice the previous energy. On 1
 

Slovakia becomes ninth ESA European Cooperating State

 
‎20 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎09:07:23 AMGo to full article
Paris (ESA) Feb 20, 2015
Slovakia becomes the ninth country to sign the European Cooperating State Agreement with ESA. This agreement strengthens Slovakia's relations with ESA, after the signature of the first Cooperation Agreement in April 2010. ESA's Head of the Director General's Cabinet, Mr Karlheinz Kreuzberg, and the Slovak Minister of Education, Science, Research and Sport, Mr Juraj Draxler, signed the agre
 

New Horizons Spots Small Moons Orbiting Pluto

 
‎19 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎05:15:09 AMGo to full article
Laurel MD (SPX) Feb 19, 2015
Exactly 85 years after Clyde Tombaugh's historic discovery of Pluto, the NASA spacecraft set to encounter the icy planet this summer is providing its first views of the small moons orbiting Pluto. The moons Nix and Hydra are visible in a a href="http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/News-Center/News-Article.php?page=20150218">series of images /a> taken by the New Horizons spacecraft from Jan. 27-Feb. 8
 

From Vomit Comet to CubeSat

 
‎19 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎05:15:09 AMGo to full article
Orlando FL (SPX) Feb 19, 2015
Several small-scale experiments aboard NASA's vomit comet have led to a NASA grant to study early planet formation aboard a satellite in low-Earth orbit for a year or more. University of Central Florida physics professor Joshua Colwell this month landed a grant to place a thermos-sized experiment aboard a satellite as part of NASA's CubeSat Launch Initiative . UCF landed two of the 14 gran
 

Space Station 3-D Printed Items, Seedlings Return in the Belly of a Dragon

 
‎19 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎05:15:09 AMGo to full article
Washington DC (SPX) Feb 19, 2015
Newly 3-D printed wrenches, data to improve cooling systems, protein crystals and seedling samples returned Feb. 10 aboard SpaceX's fifth contracted resupply mission to the International Space Station. Researchers will use samples and data returned to improve scientific studies on Earth and build on research that will enable space exploration. Printed parts and hardware returned from the f
 

A Composite Booster Gets a Burst of Energy

 
‎19 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎05:15:09 AMGo to full article
Washington DC (SPX) Feb 19, 2015
Turning a rocket booster case into spaghetti sounds more like magic than engineering, but a test that did just that could be an important step in the future of human space exploration. As NASA prepares to test the massive solid rocket booster for the agency's Space Launch System (SLS) rocket in March, a team of engineers is looking even farther into the future by exploring an advanced comp
 

Cool ride!

 
‎19 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎05:15:09 AMGo to full article
Paris (ESA) Feb 19, 2015
Thanks to space, some Parisian Metro riders now enjoy a very high-tech commute. A satellite spin-off is paving the way for more comfortable journeys. Tourists and locals alike are familiar with Metro Line One: traversing the length of the French capital, this underground line is the city's busiest. More than 213 million journeys are made yearly on its 16.6 km track, which serves 25 stations.
 

Research With Space Explorers May One Day Heal Earth's Warriors

 
‎19 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎05:15:09 AMGo to full article
Houston TX (SPX) Feb 19, 2015
Growing bone on demand sounds like a space-age concept-a potentially life changing one. Such a capability could benefit those needing bone for reconstructive surgery due to trauma like combat injuries or those waging a battle with osteoporosis. Related research is hardly science fiction, as a study into a key bone-growing protein was recently funded to take place in orbit aboard the Internationa
 

Scientists alarmed at short-term ozone-eroding gases

 
‎19 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎05:15:09 AMGo to full article
Paris (AFP) Feb 16, 2015
Environmental scientists raised concern Monday at rising levels of gases that attack Earth's protective ozone layer, including manmade chemicals not covered by a key UN treaty. Researchers at Leeds University in northern England said two computer models highlighted the impact of so-called "very short-lived substances" - VSLS - that deplete the stratospheric shield. The damage they do t
 

Two Years On, Source of Russian Chelyabinsk Meteor Remains Elusive

 
‎19 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎05:15:09 AMGo to full article
Tucson AZ (SPX) Feb 19, 2015
Two years after a 20-meter rock slammed into the Earth after a meteoroid dramatically fragmented in the atmosphere over the Chelyabinsk region in Russia and injured hundreds of people, its parent asteroid remains elusive, a new paper published in the journal Icarus shows. Astronomers had originally predicted that a 2-km near-Earth asteroid (NEA) designated (86039) 1999 NC43 could be the so
 

Moog offers "SoftRide" for enhanced spacecraft protection during launch

 
‎19 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎05:15:09 AMGo to full article
Dublin, Ireland (SPX) Feb 19, 2015
Moog's Dublin facility has announced the commencement of a European Space Agency (ESA) technology transfer program to protect spacecraft by reducing harsh vibration experienced during launches. The program will make Moog Dublin the European supplier of Moog's patented SoftRide, a vibration control technology that has already provided launch load alleviation for 34 satellites. Moog Dublin w
 

School is in Session: Welcome to Boosters 101

 
‎19 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎05:15:09 AMGo to full article
Washington DC (SPX) Feb 19, 2015
Have your pencils and notebooks handy because school is in session. Welcome to Boosters 101. No, this lesson is not about a child seat or an amusement park ride if you looked up boosters in the encyclopedia. This is about rocket boosters - and not only that, but the largest, most powerful ones ever built that will give the "lift" necessary to send astronauts to an asteroid and to Mars on
 

Boeing's Space Efforts to Be Managed by Newly Created Organization

 
‎19 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎05:15:09 AMGo to full article
Washington DC (SPX) Feb 19, 2015
Boeing has announced the creation of BDS Development, an organization within its Defense, Space and Security (BDS) unit, which will centralize its defense and space efforts. The company stated that this move will enhance its performance on the pre-production development activities that significantly influence its ability to provide customers with the right capabilities at the right time an
 

Satellites help predict outbreaks of disease

 
‎19 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎05:15:09 AMGo to full article
San Jose, United States (AFP) Feb 16, 2015
Satellites can help scientists follow parasites and viruses, and in some cases predict months ahead of time an outbreak of dengue fever or malaria, researchers said Sunday. "Some diseases are highly sensitive to their environment, especially parasitic diseases," said Archie Clements, director of the school of population health at the Australian National University in Canberra. "With remo
 

Laser 'ruler' holds promise for hunting exoplanets

 
‎19 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎05:15:09 AMGo to full article
Washington DC (SPX) Feb 19, 2015
The hunt for Earth-like planets around distant stars could soon become a lot easier thanks to a technique developed by researchers in Germany. In a paper published 18 February in the Institute of Physics and German Physical Society's New Journal of Physics, the team of researchers have successfully demonstrated how a solar telescope can be combined with a piece of technology that has alrea
 

Navy satellite communications systems getting support services

 
‎19 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎05:15:09 AMGo to full article
Alexandria, Va. (UPI) Feb 16, 2015
The U.S. Navy has tapped SBG Technology Solutions for support of on-orbit communications capabilities for open-ocean, littoral, and naval land operations. The contract, a multi-year vehicle, was issued by the Navy Program Executive Office Space Systems, or PEO SS, under its PMW 146 program for communications satellites. The monetary value of the award was not disclosed. Un
 

New self-stretching material developed at University of Rochester

 
‎19 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎05:15:09 AMGo to full article
Rochester NY (SPX) Feb 17, 2015
Although most materials slightly expand when heated, there is a new class of rubber-like material that not only self-stretches upon cooling; it reverts back to its original shape when heated, all without physical manipulation. The findings were recently published in the journal ACS Macro Letters. The material is like a shape-memory polymer because it can be switched between two diffe
 

Signals to Alien Worlds Pose No Threat of Invasion

 
‎18 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎04:22:36 AMGo to full article
Edinburgh, UK (Sputnik) Feb 18, 2015
Using powerful radio telescopes to broadcast "greetings messages" into space will not result in an alien invasion, a chief scientist at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute in California told Sputnik Friday. Astronomers have been listening for messages from possible alien civilizations since 1960, without any tangible success. But under a proposal, known as "Active
 

Dawn Captures Sharper Images of Ceres

 
‎18 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎04:22:36 AMGo to full article
Pasadena CA (JPL) Feb 18, 2015
Craters and mysterious bright spots are beginning to pop out in the latest images of Ceres from NASA's Dawn spacecraft. These images, taken Feb. 12 at a distance of 52,000 miles (83,000 kilometers) from the dwarf planet, pose intriguing questions for the science team to explore as the spacecraft nears its destination. "As we slowly approach the stage, our eyes transfixed on Ceres and her p
 

Virgin Galactic Opens New Design and Manufacturing Facility for LauncherOne

 
‎18 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎04:22:36 AMGo to full article
Long Beach CA (SPX) Feb 18, 2015
Virgin Galactic and Abu Dhabi's Aabar Investments PJS, is pleased to announce it has leased a new 150,000 square foot facility that will house design and manufacturing of the company's small satellite launch vehicle, LauncherOne. LauncherOne is a new two-stage orbital launch vehicle being designed by Virgin Galactic specifically to launch commercial or governmental satellites that weigh 50
 

Why Did Russian Cosmonauts Carry Shotguns and Machetes in Space?

 
‎18 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎04:22:36 AMGo to full article
Moscow, Russia (Sputnik) Feb 18, 2015
The popular myth about Russian spacemen traveling to space geared with weapons is actually true and the question why they did that is finally revealed. Russian cosmonauts carried a convertible shotgun which doubled as an axe and machete into space. The 'myth' about Soviet spacemen being armed with shotguns was a topic of great interest on Russian forums for the past few years. Recently it
 

Airbus Defence and Space to build SES-14 satellite

 
‎18 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎04:22:36 AMGo to full article
Paris (SPX) Feb 18, 2015
Airbus Defence and Space has been awarded a contract by SES to design and develop SES-14, a highly innovative telecommunications satellite. SES-14 is the first high-power satellite in the 4-tonne class. It will be based on Airbus Defence and Space's ultra-reliable Eurostar platform in its E3000e variant, which exclusively uses electric propulsion for orbit raising (EOR), taking advantage o
 

Russian-Ukrainian Satan Rocket to Launch South Korean Satellite as Planned

 
‎18 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎04:22:36 AMGo to full article
Moscow, Russia (Sputnik) Feb 18, 2015
The joint Russian-Ukrainian company Kosmotras will go ahead with the launches of commercial and scientific satellites and spacecraft it had planned for 2015 using the Dnepr-1 rocket, including a South Korean Kompsat remote sensing satellite in mid-March. The March 12 launch of the Dnepr-1 carrying a South Korean satellite will go ahead as planned, a source close to the space industry told
 

Be My Valentine: Rosetta Spacecraft Makes Close Pass by Comet 67P

 
‎18 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎04:22:36 AMGo to full article
Moscow, Russia (Sputnik) Feb 18, 2015
The probe passed mere 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) from the surface of the ice ball in a unique display of affection on the Valentine's Day. The Rosetta spacecraft has just scored another historic first by making the closest flyby of the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko it has been following and studying since last August. 12:41 UT: At closest approach to #67P! - ESA Rosetta Mission (@ESA_Ros
 

Interstellar technology throws light on spinning black holes

 
‎18 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎04:22:36 AMGo to full article
Washington DC (SPX) Feb 18, 2015
The team responsible for the Oscar-nominated visual effects at the centre of Christopher Nolan's epic, Interstellar, have turned science fiction into science fact by providing new insights into the powerful effects of black holes. In a paper published 13 February, in IOP Publishing's journal Classical and Quantum Gravity, the team describe the innovative computer code that was used to gene
 

NASA Team Develops New Ka-Band Communications System to Break Through the Noise

 
‎18 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎04:22:36 AMGo to full article
Greenebelt MD (SPX) Feb 18, 2015
The radio frequency band that many NASA missions use to communicate with spacecraft - S-band - is getting a bit crowded and noisy, and likely to get more jammed as science missions demand higher and higher data rates. A team of NASA technologists at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, just may have a solution, particularly for potential missions that plan to operate
 

Apollo Lunar Samples Provide More Information on Early Earth Formation

 
‎18 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎04:22:36 AMGo to full article
Tucson AZ (Sputnik) Feb 18, 2015
Arizona State University researchers studied the timeline of meteorite impacts on the moon through a ground-breaking application of laser microprobe technology. A team led by Arizona State University researchers studied the timeline of meteorite impacts on the moon through a ground-breaking application of laser microprobe technology to Apollo 17 samples. Developing an absolute chrono
 

SSL-Built High-Throughput Satellite For Telenor Ready For Launch

 
‎18 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎04:22:36 AMGo to full article
Palo Alto CA (SPX) Feb 18, 2015
Space Systems/Loral (SSL) has announced that the THOR 7 satellite, designed and built for Telenor Satellite Broadcasting (TSBc), is ready for launch and will ship to the European Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana later next week, for launch aboard an Ariane 5 launch vehicle by Arianespace. THOR 7 is a multi-mission satellite equipped with Telenor's first high performance Ka-band payload,
 

The ISS Menu: Mayo, Espressos, Booze? Cosmonauts Reveal Their Secrets

 
‎18 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎04:22:36 AMGo to full article
Moscow, Russia (Sputnik) Feb 18, 2015
It gets lonely in space if you're a foodie. However, some cosmonauts and astronauts found ways to deal with the problem by bringing their own, or turning to Earth for help. On Monday, Russian cosmonauts surprised their mission control when they requested 15 packages of mayonnaise to be sent in the upcoming shipment of food to the International Space Station (ISS) instead of lemons and tomatoes.
 

Life on other planets: Alternative chemistries of life

 
‎18 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎04:22:36 AMGo to full article
Atlanta GA (SPX) Feb 18, 2015
Ideas about directing evolution of life forms on Earth and finding life on other planets are rapidly morphing from science-fiction fantasy into mainstream science, says David Lynn, a chemist at Emory University. "These areas of science are rapidly coming of age because of our increasing knowledge and advancing technology. It's an exciting time. We're on the threshold of answering fundament
 

Russian Space Agency's Computers Are Hacker-Proof

 
‎18 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎04:22:36 AMGo to full article
Moscow, Russia (Sputnik) Feb 18, 2015
Data leakage from the servers and computers of the Russian Federal Space Agency Roscosmos is not possible, a source in Roscosmos told RIA Novosti Tuesday. On Monday, the Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab security experts said they discovered malware placed on high-value computer hard drives in over 30 countries. "The information security system in the rocket-space industry is formed in a wa
 

Close Encounters of a Scholz Kind

 
‎18 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎04:22:36 AMGo to full article
Rochester NY (SPX) Feb 17, 2015
group of astronomers from the US, Europe, Chile and South Africa have determined that 70,000 years ago a recently discovered dim star is likely to have passed through the solar system's distant cloud of comets, the Oort Cloud. No other star is known to have ever approached our solar system this close - five times closer than the current closest star, Proxima Centauri. In a paper published
 

Scientists fail to explain strange plumes spotted on Martian surface

 
‎17 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎05:10:59 PMGo to full article
Washington (UPI) Feb 16, 2015
In 2012, dozens of amateur astronomers spotted large plumes of dust rising off the surface of Mars. More than two years later, scientists still don't have a suitable explanation for the phenomenon. In a new study, published this week in the journal Nature, scientists recount the strange occurrence and survey the various attempts to illuminate the plumes' origins or cause. The phe
 

NASA wants to send a submarine to Saturn's moon Titan

 
‎17 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎05:10:59 PMGo to full article
Washington (UPI) Feb 16, 2015
The seas of Titan, Saturn's largest moon, are no place for astronauts. The frigid bodies of liquified natural gas are a study in inhabitability. But scientists suggest its possible some strange forms of life exist under the of icy surface of Kraken Mare, Titan's largest sea. To learn more about this unique world - and to probe Titan's liquid environs for signs of life - engineers at N
 

Scientists try to unravel warming's impact on jet stream

 
‎17 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎05:10:59 PMGo to full article
Montreal (AFP) Feb 12, 2015
A winter of strange weather and turbulent transatlantic flights has scientists asking: Has a predicted climate imbalance of the jet stream begun? The Arctic is warming faster than other parts of the world, and scientists believe that is having a dramatic impact on the jet stream, which may be responsible for the unusual weather and stronger upper atmospheric winds of late. On January 8,
 

Global rainfall satellites require massive overhaul

 
‎17 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎05:10:59 PMGo to full article
Ithaca NY (SPX) Feb 13, 2015
Circling hundreds of miles above Earth, weather satellites are working round-the-clock to provide rainfall data that are key to a complex system of global flood prediction. A new Cornell University study warns that the existing system of space-based rainfall observation satellites requires a serious overhaul. Particularly in many developing countries, satellite-based flood prediction has w
 

Saab producing components, sub-systems for Marine Corps radar

 
‎17 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎05:10:59 PMGo to full article
Linkoping, Sweden (UPI) Feb 16, 2015
Saab's U.S. subsidiary has been contracted to provide components and sub-systems of the U.S. Marine Corps AN/TPS-80 Ground/Air Task Oriented Radar system. The award was issued by Northrop Grumman and carries a value of $32 million. Northrop Grumman is the prime contractor for the G/ATOR program. Its contract to Saab Defense and Security USA is for the first four low-rate initial
 

Better batteries inspired by lowly snail shells

 
‎17 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎05:10:59 PMGo to full article
Washington DC (SPX) Feb 12, 2015
Scientists are using biology to improve the properties of lithium ion batteries. Researchers at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) have isolated a peptide, a type of biological molecule, which binds strongly to lithium manganese nickel oxide (LMNO), a material that can be used to make the cathode in high performance batteries. The peptide can latch onto nanosized particles
 

Cesium atoms shaken, not stirred, to create elusive excitation in superfluid

 
‎17 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎05:10:59 PMGo to full article
Chicago IL (SPX) Feb 13, 2015
Scientists discovered in 1937 that liquid helium-4, when chilled to extremely low temperatures, became a superfluid that could leak through glass, overflow its containers, or eternally gush like a fountain. Future Nobel laureate Lev Landau came along in 1941, predicting that superfluid helium-4 should contain an exotic, particle-like excitation called a roton. But scientists, including Lan
 

AFSPC thinks outside of the box

 
‎17 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎05:10:59 PMGo to full article
Peterson AFB CO (SPX) Feb 15, 2015
Air Force Space Command is making new waves in improvements and creativity with their cost-saving "Out of the Box Innovation" program. The purpose of the program is to collect strategically forward-thinking ideas that support critical enabling actions to allow operators and acquirers to do their jobs more efficiently, gather the appropriate subject matter experts to analyze the viability o
 

Russian Strategic Missile Forces Begin Wide-Range Drills in 12 Regions

 
‎17 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎05:10:59 PMGo to full article
Moscow, Russia (Sputnik) Feb 13, 2015
Russia's Strategic Missile Forces have begun wide-range exercises in 12 regions in the country, the Russian Defense Ministry said Thursday. "Russia's SMF with more than 30 missile battalions in 12 regions in Russia (from the Tver to the Irkustsk regions) are taking part in drills. There are both mobile and stationary SMF groups participating," the ministry said in a statement. The wa
 

Measurement of key molecule increases accuracy of combustion models

 
‎17 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎05:10:59 PMGo to full article
Livermore CA (SPX) Feb 13, 2015
Sandia National Laboratories researchers are the first to directly measure hydroperoxyalkyl radicals - a class of reactive molecules denoted as "QOOH" - that are key in the chain of reactions that controls the early stages of combustion. This breakthrough has generated data on QOOH reaction rates and outcomes that will improve the fidelity of models used by engine manufacturers to create clean
 

Frontline Innovation: DARPA to put Fab Lab at Navy Ship Maintenance Center

 
‎17 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎05:10:59 PMGo to full article
Washington DC (SPX) Feb 15, 2015
DARPA and the Navy recently agreed to locate a fabrication laboratory, or Fab Lab, at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center (MARMC, pronounced "mar-mack") in Norfolk, Virginia, under DARPA's Manufacturing Experimentation and Outreach Two (MENTOR2) program. The goal of MENTOR2 is to reduce logistics supply chain costs and boost defense readiness by improving training and tools for op
 

Europe destroys last space truck to ISS

 
‎17 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎05:10:59 PMGo to full article
Paris (AFP) Feb 15, 2015
The European Space Agency (ESA) on Sunday said it had destroyed its last supply ship to the International Space Station, bringing a seven-year venture to a successful close. The last of five robot delivery vessels that ESA pledged for the US-led ISS project, the Georges Lemaitre, burned up in a suicide plunge into Earth's atmosphere, the agency said. At the control centre in Toulouse, th
 

Scientists call for international authority on climate geoengineering

 
‎17 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎05:10:59 PMGo to full article
San Jose, United States (AFP) Feb 15, 2015
US scientists and legal experts are calling for a strong, international authority to regulate any man-made interventions meant to combat global warming, amid fears that the technology could be harmful to the environment. The field known as geoengineering is not currently regulated by any institution or treaty, Edward Parson, professor of environmental law at the University of California, Los
 

NASA Aircraft, Spacecraft Aid Atmospheric River Study

 
‎17 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎05:10:59 PMGo to full article
Pasadena CA (JPL) Feb 09, 2015
NASA is part of CalWater 2015, a massive research effort to study atmospheric rivers this month. Atmospheric rivers are flows of tropical moisture across the Pacific Ocean to the West Coast, where the moisture falls as rain or snow. One type of atmospheric river is called the Pineapple Express because it originates near Hawaii. Storms driven by atmospheric rivers produce about 40 percent o
 

Cosmic "Reionization" Is More Recent than Predicted

 
‎16 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎02:24:16 AMGo to full article
Paris (SPX) Feb 15, 2015
The highly anticipated update of the analysis of data from the European Space Agency's Planck satellite starts with a first paper published in Astronomy and Astrophysics, which already holds in store a few major surprises. The first article in fact "rejuvenates" the stars of our universe. Thanks to new maps of cosmic background radiation (in particular, those containing "polarization aniso
 

The View from New Horizons: A Full Day on Pluto-Charon

 
‎16 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎02:24:16 AMGo to full article
Washington DC (SPX) Feb 15, 2015
This time-lapse "movie" of Pluto and its largest moon, Charon, was recently shot at record-setting distances with the Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) on NASA's New Horizons spacecraft. The movie was made over about a week, from Jan. 25-31, 2015. It was taken as part of the mission's second optical navigation ("OpNav") campaign to better refine the locations of Pluto and Charon in
 

U.S. Air Force pushes for more spending on big-ticket items

 
‎16 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎02:24:16 AMGo to full article
Orlando, Fla. (UPI) Feb 12, 2015
Air Force brass came out in force at the annual Air Warfare Symposium and Technology Exhibition to promote the necessity of new big-ticket programs for the 2016 budget cycle. Leading the morning was discussion of the Long-Range Strike Bomber, described as the "foundation" of how airmen will innovate in the future, even in peacetime employment. To answer the question "why do we ne
 

Exploded Star Blooms Like a Cosmic Flower

 
‎16 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎02:24:16 AMGo to full article
Washington DC (SPX) Feb 15, 2015
Because the debris fields of exploded stars, known as supernova remnants, are very hot, energetic, and glow brightly in X-ray light, NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has proven to be a valuable tool in studying them. The supernova remnant called G299.2-2.9 (or G299 for short) is located within our Milky Way galaxy, but Chandra's new image of it is reminiscent of a beautiful flower here on Earth.
 

A New Way to View Titan: 'Despeckle' It

 
‎16 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎02:24:16 AMGo to full article
Pasadena CA (JPL) Feb 13, 2015
During 10 years of discovery, NASA's Cassini spacecraft has pulled back the smoggy veil that obscures the surface of Titan, Saturn's largest moon. Cassini's radar instrument has mapped almost half of the giant moon's surface; revealed vast, desert-like expanses of sand dunes; and plumbed the depths of expansive hydrocarbon seas. What could make that scientific bounty even more amazing? Well, wha
 

Mismatched twin stars spotted in the delivery room

 
‎16 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎02:24:16 AMGo to full article
Boston MA (SPX) Feb 15, 2015
The majority of stars in our galaxy come in pairs. In particular, the most massive stars usually have a companion. These fraternal twins tend to be somewhat equal partners when it comes to mass - but not always. In a quest to find mismatched star pairs known as extreme mass-ratio binaries, astronomers have discovered a new class of binary stars. One star is fully formed while the other is still
 

Application of laser microprobe technology to Apollo samples refines lunar impact history

 
‎16 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎02:24:16 AMGo to full article
Tempe AZ (SPX) Feb 15, 2015
It's been more than 40 years since astronauts returned the last Apollo samples from the moon, and since then those samples have undergone some of the most extensive and comprehensive analysis of any geological collection. A team led by ASU researchers has now refined the timeline of meteorite impacts on the moon through a pioneering application of laser microprobe technology to Apollo 17 samples
 

Astra Connect Solution Selected For UK Satellite Pilot

 
‎16 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎02:24:16 AMGo to full article
Luxembourg (SPX) Feb 15, 2015
SES has announced that its Astra Connect for Communities solution will be used in a UK Government-funded Market Test Pilot (MTP) project. These Pilot projects aim to assess which technologies and commercial models are best suited to deliver superfast broadband to the final five percent of households in the UK that currently do not have access to high-speed internet. SES is working with Sat
 

DSCOVR: Mission Success for Moog Engines Over a Decade Later

 
‎16 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎02:24:16 AMGo to full article
East Aurora NY (SPX) Feb 15, 2015
Moog Space and Defense Group supported NOAA's Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite that launched today from Cape Canaveral, F.L., atop a Falcon 9 launch vehicle. DSCOVR is a partnership between NOAA, NASA and the U.S. Air Force to provide a rapid advance warning to utility companies and satellite operators when solar flares approach Earth. Technology used to develop the
 

X-ray pulses uncover free nanoparticles for the first time in 3-D

 
‎16 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎02:24:16 AMGo to full article
Hamburg, Germany (SPX) Feb 11, 2015
For the first time, a German-American research team has determined the three-dimensional shape of free-flying silver nanoparticles, using DESY's X-ray laser FLASH. The tiny particles, hundreds of times smaller than the width of a human hair, were found to exhibit an unexpected variety of shapes, as the physicists from the Technical University (TU) Berlin, the University of Rostock, the SLA
 

Industry: Risk aversion costs more than 'fast failure'

 
‎16 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎02:24:16 AMGo to full article
Orlando, Fla. (UPI) Feb 13, 2015
Representatives from some the nation's largest defense firms agreed a culture of risk aversion at the Pentagon is costing the American taxpayer more than "fast failure." Speaking on the topic of innovation in the 21st century at the Air Warfare Symposium and Technology Exposition, representatives from Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Boeing, Raytheon, Aurora Flight Sciences and Pratt
 

The power of light-matter coupling

 
‎16 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎02:24:16 AMGo to full article
Strasbourg, France (SPX) Feb 12, 2015
Light and matter can be so strongly linked that their characteristics become indistinguishable. These light-matter couplings are referred to as polaritons. Their energy oscillates continuously between both systems, giving rise to attractive new physical phenomena. Now, scientists in France have explained why such polaritons can remain for an unusual long time at the lowest energy levels, i
 

New understanding of electron behavior at tips of carbon nanocones could help provide candidates

 
‎16 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎02:24:16 AMGo to full article
Bratislava, Slovakia (SPX) Feb 11, 2015
One of the ways of improving electrons manipulation is though better control over one of their inner characteristics, called spin. This approach is the object of an entire field of study, known as spintronics. Now, Richard Pincak from the Slovak Academy of Sciences and colleagues have just uncovered new possibilities for manipulating the electrons on the tips of graphitic nanocones. Indeed
 

Europe space truck undocks from ISS

 
‎15 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎10:58:28 AMGo to full article
Paris (AFP) Feb 14, 2015
Europe's last supply vessel to the International Space Station undocked on Saturday at the end of a six-month mission, the European Space Agency (ESA) said. The automated spaceship, the Georges Lemaitre, separated from the ISS ahead of an operation on Sunday to burn it up in Earth's atmosphere, ESA said. It is the last of five so-called Automated Transfer Vehicles (ATV) that ESA has cont
 

Electronics you can wrap around your finger

 
‎15 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎10:58:28 AMGo to full article
Washington DC (SPX) Feb 11, 2015
Electronic devices have shrunk rapidly in the past decades, but most remain as stiff as the same sort of devices were in the 1950s - a drawback if you want to wrap your phone around your wrist when you go for a jog or fold your computer to fit in a pocket. Researchers from South Korea have taken a new step toward more bendable devices by manufacturing a thin film that keeps its useful ele
 

ESA experimental spaceplane completes research flight

 
‎11 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎11:36:59 AMGo to full article
Kourou, French Guiana (ESA) Feb 11, 2015
An experimental vehicle to develop an autonomous European reentry capability for future reusable space transportation has completed its mission. ESA's Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle flew a flawless reentry and splashed down in the Pacific Ocean just west of the Galapagos islands. The IXV spaceplane lifted off at 13:40 GMT (14:40 CET, 10:40 local time) on 11 February from Europe's Spacep

 

 
News About Time And Space
 
 

Interstellar technology throws light on spinning black holes

 
‎18 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎05:33:25 AMGo to full article
Washington DC (SPX) Feb 18, 2015 - The team responsible for the Oscar-nominated visual effects at the centre of Christopher Nolan's epic, Interstellar, have turned science fiction into science fact by providing new insights into the powerful effects of black holes.

In a paper published 13 February, in IOP Publishing's journal Classical and Quantum Gravity, the team describe the innovative computer code that was used to generate the movie's iconic images of the wormhole, black hole and various celestial objects, and explain how the code has led them to new science discoveries.

Using their code, the Interstellar team, comprising London-based visual effects company Double Negative and Caltech theoretical physicist Kip Thorne, found that when a camera is close up to a rapidly spinning black hole, peculiar surfaces in space, known as caustics, create more than a dozen images of individual stars and of the thin, bright plane of the galaxy in which the black hole lives. They found that the images are concentrated along one edge of the black hole's shadow.

These multiple images are caused by the black hole dragging space into a whirling motion and stretching the caustics around itself many times. It is the first time that the effects of caustics have been computed for a camera near a black hole, and the resulting images give some idea of what a person would see if they were orbiting around a hole.

The discoveries were made possible by the team's computer code, which, as the paper describes, mapped the paths of millions of lights beams and their evolving cross-sections as they passed through the black hole's warped spacetime. The computer code was used to create images of the movie's wormhole and the black hole, Gargantua, and its glowing accretion disk, with unparalleled smoothness and clarity.

It showed portions of the accretion disk swinging up over the top and down under Gargantua's shadow, and also in front of the shadow's equator, producing an image of a split shadow that has become iconic for the movie.

This weird distortion of the glowing disk was caused by gravitational lensing--a process by which light beams from different parts of the disk, or from distant stars, are bent and distorted by the black hole, before they arrive at the movie's simulated camera.

This lensing happens because the black hole creates an extremely strong gravitational field, literally bending the fabric of spacetime around itself, like a bowling ball lying on a stretched out bed sheet.

Early in their work on the movie, with the black hole encircled within a rich field of distant stars and nebulae instead of an accretion disk, the team found that the standard approach of using just one light ray for one pixel in a computer code--in this instance, for an IMAX picture, a total of 23 million pixels--resulted in flickering as the stars and nebulae moved across the screen.

Co-author of the study and chief scientist at Double Negative, Oliver James, said: "To get rid of the flickering and produce realistically smooth pictures for the movie, we changed our code in a manner that has never been done before. Instead of tracing the paths of individual light rays using Einstein's equations--one per pixel--we traced the distorted paths and shapes of light beams."

Co-author of the study Kip Thorne said: "This new approach to making images will be of great value to astrophysicists like me. We, too, need smooth images."

Oliver James continued: "Once our code, called DNGR for Double Negative Gravitational Renderer, was mature and creating the images you see in the movie Interstellar, we realised we had a tool that could easily be adapted for scientific research."

In their paper, the team report how they used DNGR to carry out a number of research simulations exploring the influence of caustics--peculiar, creased surfaces in space--on the images of distant star fields as seen by a camera near a fast spinning black hole.

"A light beam emitted from any point on a caustic surface gets focussed by the black hole into a bright cusp of light at a given point," James continued. "All of the caustics, except one, wrap around the sky many times when the camera is close to the black hole. This sky-wrapping is caused by the black hole's spin, dragging space into a whirling motion around itself like the air in a whirling tornado, and stretching the caustics around the black hole many times."

As each caustic passes by a star, it either creates two new images of the star as seen by the camera, or annihilates two old images of the star. As the camera orbits around the black hole, film clips from the DNGR simulations showed that the caustics were constantly creating and annihilating a huge number of stellar images.

The team identified as many as 13 simultaneous images of the same star, and as many as 13 images of the thin, bright plane of the galaxy in which the black hole lives.

These multiple images were only seen when the black hole was spinning rapidly and only near the side of the black hole where the hole's whirling space was moving toward the camera, which they deduced was because the space whirl was 'flinging' the images outward from the hole's shadow edge.

On the shadow's opposite side, where space is whirling away from the camera, the team deduced that there were also multiple images of each star, but that the whirl of space compressed them inward, so close to the black hole's shadow that they could not be seen in the simulations.

 

 

A new spin on spintronics

 
‎18 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎05:33:25 AMGo to full article
Washington DC (SPX) Feb 18, 2015 - A team of researchers from the University of Michigan and Western Michigan University is exploring new materials that could yield higher computational speeds and lower power consumption, even in harsh environments.

Most modern electronic circuitry relies on controlling electronic charge within a circuit, but this control can easily be disrupted in the presence of radiation, interrupting information processing. Electronics that use spin-based logic, or spintronics, may offer an alternative that is robust even in radiation-filled environments.

Making a radiation-resistant spintronic device requires a material relevant for spintronic applications that can maintain its spin-dependence after it has been irradiated. In a paper published in the journal Applied Physics Letters, from AIP Publishing, the Michigan research team presents their results using bulk Si-doped n-GaAs exposed to proton radiation.

How Does Spintronics Work?
Modern electronic devices use charges to transmit and store information, primarily based upon how many electrons are in one place or another. When a lot of them are at a given terminal, you can call that 'on.'

If you have very few of them at the same terminal, you can call that 'off,' just like a light switch. This allows for binary logic depending on whether the terminal is 'on' or 'off.' Spintronics, at its simplest, uses the 'on/off' idea, but instead of counting the electrons, their spin is measured.

"You can think of the spin of an electron as a tiny bar magnet with an arrow painted on it. If the arrow points up, we call that 'spin-up.' If it points down, we call that 'spin-down.' By using light, electric, or magnetic fields, we can manipulate, and measure, the spin direction," said researcher Brennan Pursley, who is the first author of the new study.

While spintronics holds promise for faster and more efficient computation, researchers also want to know whether it would be useful in harsh environments. Currently, radioactivity is a major problem for electronic circuitry because it can scramble information and in the long term degrade electronic properties. For the short term effects, spintronics should be superior: radioactivity can change the quantity of charge in a circuit, but should not affect spin-polarized carriers.

Studying spintronic materials required that the research team combine two well established fields: the study of spin dynamics and the study of radiation damage. Both tool sets are quite robust and have been around for decades but combining the two required sifting through the wealth of radiation damage research. "That was the most difficult aspect," explains Pursley.

"It was an entirely new field for us with a variety of established techniques and terminology to learn. The key was to tackle it like any new project: ask a lot of questions, find a few good books or papers, and follow the citations."

Technically, what the Michigan team did was to measure the spin properties of n-GaAs as a function of radiation fluence using time-resolved Kerr rotation and photoluminescence spectroscopy.

Results show that the spin lifetime and g-factor of bulk n-GaAs is largely unaffected by proton irradiation making it a candidate for further study for radiation-resistant spintronic devices. The team plans to study other spintronic materials and prototype devices after irradiation since the hybrid field of irradiated spintronics is wide open with plenty of questions to tackle.

Long term, knowledge of radiation effects on spintronic devices will aid in their engineering. A practical implementation would be processing on a communications satellite where without the protection of Earth's atmosphere, electronics can be damaged by harsh solar radiation.

The theoretically achievable computation speeds and low power consumption could be combined with compact designs and relatively light shielding. This could make communications systems faster, longer-lived and cheaper to implement.

 

 

In the quantum world, the future affects the past

 
‎18 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎05:33:25 AMGo to full article
St. Louis MO (SPX) Feb 18, 2015 - We're so used murder mysteries that we don't even notice how mystery authors play with time. Typically the murder occurs well before the midpoint of the book, but there is an information blackout at that point and the reader learns what happened then only on the last page.

If the last page were ripped out of the book, physicist Kater Murch, PhD, said, would the reader be better off guessing what happened by reading only up to the fatal incident or by reading the entire book?

The answer, so obvious in the case of the murder mystery, is less so in world of quantum mechanics, where indeterminacy is fundamental rather than contrived for our reading pleasure.

Even if you know everything quantum mechanics can tell you about a quantum particle, said Murch, an assistant professor of physics in Arts and Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, you cannot predict with certainty the outcome of a simple experiment to measure its state. All quantum mechanics can offer are statistical probabilities for the possible results.

The orthodox view is that this indeterminacy is not a defect of the theory, but rather a fact of nature. The particle's state is not merely unknown, but truly undefined before it is measured. The act of measurement itself forces the particle to collapse to a definite state.

In the Feb. 13 issue of Physical Review Letters, Kater Murch describes a way to narrow the odds. By combining information about a quantum system's evolution after a target time with information about its evolution up to that time, his lab was able to narrow the odds of correctly guessing the state of the two-state system from 50-50 to 90-10.

It's as if what we did today, changed what we did yesterday. And as this analogy suggests, the experimental results have spooky implications for time and causality--at least in microscopic world to which quantum mechanics applies.

Measuring a phantom
Until recently physicists could explore the quantum mechanical properties of single particles only through thought experiments, because any attempt to observe them directly caused them to shed their mysterious quantum properties.

But in the 1980s and 1990s physicists invented devices that allowed them to measure these fragile quantum systems so gently that they don't immediately collapse to a definite state.

The device Murch uses to explore quantum space is a simple superconducting circuit that enters quantum space when it is cooled to near absolute zero. Murch's team uses the bottom two energy levels of this qubit, the ground state and an excited state, as their model quantum system. Between these two states, there are an infinite number of quantum states that are superpositions, or combinations, of the ground and excited states.

The quantum state of the circuit is detected by putting it inside a microwave box. A few microwave photons are sent into the box, where their quantum fields interact with the superconducting circuit. So when the photons exit the box they bear information about the quantum system.

Crucially, these "weak," off-resonance measurements do not disturb the qubit, unlike "strong" measurements with photons that are resonant with the energy difference between the two states, which knock the circuit into one or the other state.

A quantum guessing game
In Physical Review Letters, Murch describes a quantum guessing game played with the qubit.

"We start each run by putting the qubit in a superposition of the two states," he said. "Then we do a strong measurement but hide the result, continuing to follow the system with weak measurements."

They then try to guess the hidden result, which is their version of the missing page of the murder mystery.

"Calculating forward, using the Born equation that expresses the probability of finding the system in a particular state, your odds of guessing right are only 50-50," Murch said. "But you can also calculate backward using something called an effect matrix. Just take all the equations and flip them around. They still work and you can just run the trajectory backward.

"So there's a backward-going trajectory and a forward-going trajectory and if we look at them both together and weight the information in both equally, we get something we call a hindsight prediction, or "retrodiction."

The shattering thing about the retrodiction is that it is 90 percent accurate. When the physicists check it against the stored measurement of the system's earlier state it is right nine times out of 10.

Down the rabbit hole
The quantum guessing game suggests ways to make both quantum computing and the quantum control of open systems, such as chemical reactions, more robust. But it also has implications for much deeper problems in physics.

For one thing, it suggests that in the quantum world time runs both backward and forward whereas in the classical world it only runs forward.

"I always thought the measurement would resolve the time symmetry in quantum mechanics," Murch said. "If we measure a particle in a superposition of states and it collapses into one of two states, well, that sounds like a process that goes forward in time."

But in the quantum guessing experiment, time symmetry has returned. The improved odds imply the measured quantum state somehow incorporates information from the future as well as the past. And that implies that time, notoriously an arrow in the classical world, is a double-headed arrow in the quantum world.

"It's not clear why in the real world, the world made up of many particles, time only goes forward and entropy always increases," Murch said. "But many people are working on that problem and I expect it will be solved in a few years," he said.

In a world where time is symmetric, however, is there such a thing as cause and effect? To find out, Murch proposes to run a qubit experiment that would set up feedback loops (which are chains of cause and effect) and try to run them both forward and backward.

"It takes 20 or 30 minutes to run one of these experiments," Murch said, "several weeks to process it, and a year to scratch our heads to see if we're crazy or not."

"At the end of the day," he said, "I take solace in the fact that we have a real experiment and real data that we plot on real curves."

 

 

Cesium atoms shaken, not stirred, to create elusive excitation in superfluid

 
‎18 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎05:33:25 AMGo to full article
Chicago IL (SPX) Feb 13, 2015 - Scientists discovered in 1937 that liquid helium-4, when chilled to extremely low temperatures, became a superfluid that could leak through glass, overflow its containers, or eternally gush like a fountain.

Future Nobel laureate Lev Landau came along in 1941, predicting that superfluid helium-4 should contain an exotic, particle-like excitation called a roton. But scientists, including Landau, Nobel laureate Richard Feynman and Wolf Prize recipient Philippe Nozieres have debated what structure the roton would take ever since.

"Even nowadays, after seven decades, it remains an issue of interest and controversy," said Cheng Chin, professor in physics at the University of Chicago. But in a new paper published Feb. 3, 2015, in Physical Review Letters, Chin and four associates describe how they can create roton structure in a new system: atomic superfluid of cesium-133 in the laboratory.

Scientists who specialize in superfluids have found it difficult to study rotons. Chin's team has pioneered a system that will make it much easier to reveal the long-cloaked mysteries of the roton.

The UChicago researchers generated artificial rotons using what they call the shaken lattice technique. With this technique, the physicists created a superfluid in a one-foot cylindrical chamber cooled to a temperature of approximately 15 nano-Kelvin, just a tiny fraction of a degree above absolute zero (minus 459.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

During the experiment, 30,000 cesium atoms became trapped in a crossing pattern of infrared laser beams. This optical lattice holds the atoms fast, like eggs in a crate, while gently shaking them.

Superfluidity in 10 seconds
"We need about 10 seconds to reach that temperature to prepare a superfluid as our first step," Chin said. "It is a brand new idea that shaking the optical lattice leads to the emergence of the rotons."

The superfluid persists for several seconds, during which time the physicists create the roton structure and image it to see how the structure influences the superfluid's properties.

Competing research teams at the University of Science and Technology in Shanghai, China, and at Washington State University also succeeded in creating roton structure using a different technique within few weeks after the Chicago group announced the result last summer. Those teams used additional laser beams to excite the atoms in the proper way.

"We approached the challenge to create rotons based on a new technology that we recently developed," said Li-Chung Ha, a graduate student in physics at UChicago. The lead author of the Physical Review Letters paper, Ha played a key role in developing the shaken lattice and in-situ imaging techniques used to collect the roton data.

Chin's research group developed the lattice shaking technique over a period of years. In 2013, Ha, Chin and UChicago postdoctoral scholar Colin V. Parker published a paper in Nature Physics showing that a variation of that technique could reveal interesting magnetic features in ultracold atoms. Later, they realized that they could use the same technique to create roton structure.

Engineering roton excitation
"With this technique, we can engineer an excitation spectrum of the atoms," Ha said. This feature, a hallmark of superfluid helium, is one of three pieces of evidence reported in the paper indicating that Ha and his associates had successfully created roton structure.

The other two lines of evidence include the measurements of roton energy confirming that its manifestation depends on the atomic interaction. The UChicago team also observed how roton excitations affect the superfluidity by dragging a laser speckle pattern across the superfluid.

"Experimentally, we see that a superfluid will become weaker in the presence of roton structure," Chin said. A superfluid can flow with no friction up to a maximum speed, called "superfluid critical velocity." Rotons suppress the critical velocity, which is the opposite of the desired goal to improve the robustness of superfluidity.

How robust can superfluidity be?
Researchers have proposed many ways to increase the robustness of superconductors, and atomic superfluids offer experimental means to test these ideas, Chin said.

"Superconductors can transfer energy without dissipation, that is, without energy loss, so a robust superconducting material can find widespread applications everywhere," he said. At the moment, power companies still use copper wire for energy transmission, which carries with it energy losses ranging from 30 to 40 percent from power plant to home or office.

Switching to superconductivity is currently impractical because superconducting material is expensive, and it works only at extremely low temperatures. More importantly, Chin noted, "a single superconducting wire can only carry a limited amount of energy."

"Our experiments provide a new platform to study excitations of a superfluid. They can help us better identify the key issues that limit the robustness of superconductivity," he said.

 

 

Rutgers-led team makes stride in explaining 30-year-old 'hidden order' physics mystery

 
‎18 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎05:33:25 AMGo to full article
New Brunswick NJ (SPX) Feb 13, 2015 - A new explanation for a type of order, or symmetry, in an exotic material made with uranium may lead to enhanced computer displays and data storage systems, and more powerful superconducting magnets for medical imaging and levitating high-speed trains, according to a Rutgers-led team of research physicists.

The team's findings are a major step toward explaining a puzzle that physicists worldwide have been struggling with for 30 years, when scientists first noticed a change in the material's electrical and magnetic properties but were unable to describe it fully. This subtle change occurs when the material is cooled to 17.5 degrees above absolute zero or lower (a bone-chilling minus 428 degrees Fahrenheit).

"This 'hidden order' has been the subject of nearly a thousand scientific papers since it was first reported in 1985 at Leiden University in the Netherlands," said Girsh Blumberg, professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy in the School of Arts and Sciences.

Collaborators from Rutgers University, the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, and Leiden University, published their findings this week in the web-based journal Science Express, which features selected research papers in advance of their appearance in the journal Science. Blumberg and two Rutgers colleagues, graduate student Hsiang-Hsi Kung and professor Kristjan Haule, led the collaboration.

Changes in order are what make liquid crystals, magnetic materials and superconductors work and perform useful functions. While the Rutgers-led discovery won't transform high-tech products overnight, this kind of knowledge is vital to ongoing advances in electronic technology.

"The Los Alamos collaborators produced a crystalline sample of the uranium, ruthenium and silicon compound with unprecedented purity, a breakthrough we needed to make progress in solving the puzzle of hidden order," said Blumberg. Uranium is commonly known as an element in nuclear reactor fuel or weapons material, but in this case, physicists value it as a heavy metal with electrons that behave differently than those in common metals.

Under these cold conditions, the orbital patterns made by electrons in uranium atoms from adjacent crystal layers become mirror images of each other. Above the hidden order temperature, these electron orbitals are the same. The Rutgers researchers discovered this so-called "broken mirror symmetry" using instrumentation they developed - based on a principle known as Raman scattering - to distinguish the pattern of the mirror images in the electron orbitals.

Blumberg also credits two theoretical physics professors at Rutgers for predicting the phenomenon that his team discovered.

"In this field, it's rare to have such predictive power," he said, noting that Gabriel Kotliar developed a computational technique that led to the prediction of the hidden order symmetry. Haule and Kotliar applied this technique to predict the changes in electron orbitals that Kung and Blumberg detected.

At still colder temperatures of 1.5 degrees above absolute zero, the material becomes superconducting - losing all resistance to the flow of electricity. While not practical for today's products and systems that rely on superconductivity, the material provides new insights into ways that materials can become superconducting.

The hidden order puzzle has also been a focus of other Rutgers researchers. Two years ago, professors Premala Chandra and Piers Coleman, along with Rutgers alumna Rebecca Flint, published another theoretical explanation of the phenomenon in the journal Nature.

The Leiden University collaborator, John Mydosh, is a member of the laboratory that discovered hidden order in 1985.

"The work of Blumberg and his team is an important and viable step towards the understanding of hidden order," Mydosh said. "We are well on our way after 30 years towards the final solution."

 

 

Switching superconductivity by light

 
‎18 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎05:33:25 AMGo to full article
Tokyo, Japan (SPX) Feb 13, 2015 - A research team led by Prof. Hiroshi M. Yamamoto of the Institute for Molecular Science, National Institutes of Natural Sciences has developed a novel superconducting transistor which can be switched reversibly between ON and OFF by light-irradiation. This achievement is a milestone for future high-speed switching devices or highly-sensitive optical sensors.

The field-effect transistor (FET) is a basic switching element that controls electrical current in electronic circuits. FETs are currently included in a variety of electronic devices such as smart phones and computers. In recent years, much effort has been devoted to develop a superconducting FET as a key technology for computations using quantum states.

In 2013, the research team developed the world's first organic superconducting FET based on the organic superconductor: ?-(BEDT-TTF)2Cu[N(CN)2]Br (?-Br). Their previous work has allowed the organic superconducting FET to be recognized again as having inherent advantages such as flexibility and designability.

In this research, the team fabricated a novel photo-switchable transistor by replacing the gate electrode in the conventional FET with a 'spiropyran'-thin-film. When Dr. Masayuki Suda, a member of the research team, shone a pale UV light on this novel FET, it showed a rapid decrease of electrical resistance and turned into a superconducting state after 180 seconds.

Spiropyran is a photo-active organic molecule that shows intra-molecular electrical polarization by UV light irradiation. In this system, carriers for the superconductivity can be accumulated by UV light-induced electrical polarization of the spiropyran-film. Dr. Suda also found that the device can be switched to the superconducting state both by gate-voltage control and light-irradiation control.

Such a multi-mode operation obtained by combining two kinds of functional molecules, BEDT-TTF and spiropyran, indicates the high designability of organic systems. The superconductivity could also be removed by visible light-induced depolarization of the film.

This research presents a novel concept in which "superconductivity can be switched by optical stimuli," and will drive innovation in the field of future high-speed switching devices or high-sensitivity optical sensors. "Now it takes 180 seconds to switch the FET, but it can be operated much faster in principle," said Dr. Suda, "and it will open a way to a new type of devices that can satisfy glowing demand for a high-speed information infrastructure."

 

 

Scientists get first glimpse of a chemical bond being born

 
‎18 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎05:33:25 AMGo to full article
Menlo Park CA (SPX) Feb 13, 2015 - Scientists have used an X-ray laser at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory to get the first glimpse of the transition state where two atoms begin to form a weak bond on the way to becoming a molecule.

This fundamental advance, reported in Science Express and long thought impossible, will have a profound impact on the understanding of how chemical reactions take place and on efforts to design reactions that generate energy, create new products and fertilize crops more efficiently.

"This is the very core of all chemistry. It's what we consider a Holy Grail, because it controls chemical reactivity," said Anders Nilsson, a professor at the SLAC/Stanford SUNCAT Center for Interface Science and Catalysis and at Stockholm University who led the research. "But because so few molecules inhabit this transition state at any given moment, no one thought we'd ever be able to see it."

Bright, Fast Laser Pulses Achieve the Impossible
The experiments took place at SLAC's Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS), a DOE Office of Science User Facility. Its brilliant, strobe-like X-ray laser pulses are short enough to illuminate atoms and molecules and fast enough to watch chemical reactions unfold in a way never possible before.

Researchers used LCLS to study the same reaction that neutralizes carbon monoxide (CO) from car exhaust in a catalytic converter. The reaction takes place on the surface of a catalyst, which grabs CO and oxygen atoms and holds them next to each other so they pair up more easily to form carbon dioxide.

In the SLAC experiments, researchers attached CO and oxygen atoms to the surface of a ruthenium catalyst and got reactions going with a pulse from an optical laser. The pulse heated the catalyst to 2,000 kelvins - more than 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit - and set the attached chemicals vibrating, greatly increasing the chance that they would knock into each other and connect.

The team was able to observe this process with X-ray laser pulses from LCLS, which detected changes in the arrangement of the atoms' electrons - subtle signs of bond formation - that occurred in mere femtoseconds, or quadrillionths of a second.

"First the oxygen atoms get activated, and a little later the carbon monoxide gets activated," Nilsson said. "They start to vibrate, move around a little bit. Then, after about a trillionth of a second, they start to collide and form these transition states."

'Rolling Marbles Uphill'
The researchers were surprised to see so many of the reactants enter the transition state - and equally surprised to discover that only a small fraction of them go on to form stable carbon dioxide. The rest break apart again.

"It's as if you are rolling marbles up a hill, and most of the marbles that make it to the top roll back down again," Nilsson said. "What we are seeing is that many attempts are made, but very few reactions continue to the final product. We have a lot to do to understand in detail what we have seen here."

Theory played a key role in the experiments, allowing the team to predict what would happen and get a good idea of what to look for. "This is a super-interesting avenue for theoretical chemists. It's going to open up a completely new field," said report co-author Frank Abild-Pedersen of SLAC and SUNCAT.

A team led by Associate Professor Henrik Ostrom at Stockholm University did initial studies of how to trigger the reactions with the optical laser. Theoretical spectra were computed under the leadership of Stockholm Professor Lars G.M. Pettersson, a longtime collaborator with Nilsson.

Preliminary experiments at SLAC's Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (SSRL), another DOE Office of Science User Facility, also proved crucial. Led by SSRL's Hirohito Ogasawara and SUNCAT's Jerry LaRue, they measured the characteristics of the chemical reactants with an intense X-ray beam so researchers would be sure to identify everything correctly at the LCLS, where beam time is much more scarce. "Without SSRL this would not have worked," Nilsson said.

The team is already starting to measure transition states in other catalytic reactions that generate chemicals important to industry.

"This is extremely important, as it provides insight into the scientific basis for rules that allow us to design new catalysts," said SUNCAT Director and co-author Jens N&ostroke;rskov.

 

 

On quantum scales, there are many second laws of thermodynamics

 
‎18 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎05:33:25 AMGo to full article
London UK (SPX) Feb 10, 2015 - New research from UCL and the Universities of Gdansk, Singapore, and Delft has uncovered additional second laws of thermodynamics which complement the ordinary second law of thermodynamics, one of the most fundamental laws of nature. These new second laws are generally not noticeable except on very small scales, at which point, they become increasingly important.

The ordinary second law states that the universe is in a growing state of disorder. It tells us that a hot cup of tea in a cold room will cool down rather than heat up; that even the most efficient machines will lose some energy as heat; and more prosaically, that a house will gradually get messier over time rather than tidying itself.

The research, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reveals that on very small scales there is actually a whole family of 'second laws', which can lead to unexpected and counterintuitive phenomena.

"The traditional second law of thermodynamics is sometimes thought of as a statistical law that only holds when there is a vast numbers of particles that make up a system," said Professor Jonathan Oppenheim (UCL Physics and Astronomy), one of the authors of the study. "Even while individual parts of a system may become more ordered, the overall entropy of the total system (a measure of disorder) increases."

In a sense, the traditional second law only holds on average.

More recently, physicists have begun wondering whether the second law holds not just on average, for very large systems, but whether it holds for small individual systems, such as those with only a small number of particles. Surprisingly, the researchers found that not only does the second law hold at such small scales, but there are actually many other second laws at work. In other words, just like larger systems, small systems also tend to become more disordered. But there are additional second laws which constrain the way in which disorder can increase.

"These additional second laws, can be thought of as saying that there are many different kinds of disorder at small scales, and they all tend to increase as time goes on," said co-author Professor Michal Horodecki (Gdansk).

The researchers found additional measures of disorder, all different to the standard entropy, which quantify different types of disorder. They showed that not only does entropy increase, but other types of disorder also have to increase.

"Statistical laws apply when we consider large numbers. For example, imagine we toss a coin thousands of times. In this case, we expect to see roughly equal numbers of heads as tails. However, this is not true when tossing the coin just a few times. It's possible we will find all the coins landing tails. Similar phenomena occur when considering systems made out of very few particles, instead of very many particles," said co-author Professor Stephanie Wehner (Delft). "We can use tools from quantum information theory to understand the case when we don't have a large number of particles."

Professor Oppenheim added: "While a quantum house will get messier rather than tidier, like a normal house, our research shows that the ways in which it can get messier are constrained by a range of extra laws.

"Stranger still, the way these second laws interact with each other can even make it look like the traditional second law has been violated. For instance, a small system can spontaneously become more ordered when it interacts with another system which barely seems to change. That means some rooms in the quantum house may spontaneously become much tidier, while others only become messier but only imperceptibly."

The results of the study give an improved understanding of how heat and energy is transformed on very small scales. This is expected to have wide applications in the design of small systems, including nanoscale devices, biological motors, and quantum technologies such as quantum computers.

 

 

A centimeter of time: Cool clocks pave the way to new measurements of the earth

 
‎18 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎05:33:25 AMGo to full article
Saitama, Japan (SPX) Feb 10, 2015 - We all like to know our watches keep the time well, but Hidetoshi Katori, of RIKEN's Quantum Metrology Laboratory and the University of Tokyo's Graduate School of Engineering, is taking precision to an entirely new dimension.

In work published in Nature Photonics, Katori's group demonstrated two cryogenically cooled optical lattice clocks that can be synchronized to a tremendous one part in 2.0 x 10-18--meaning that they would only go out of synch by a second in 16 billion years. This is nearly 1,000 times more precise than the current international timekeeping standard cesium atomic clock.

While nobody really needs a watch that precise, the development of this clock could be pivotal in opening the path to a long-held dream, clock-based geodesy. Relativistic geodesy, as it is also known, is a new way of making measurements of the shape of the earth, taking advantage of the fact that in accordance with Einstein's general principle of relativity, clocks in a strong gravitational field will tick more slowly than those in a lower field.

As a result, a clock that is located slightly further away from the center of the earth will run a little faster than one closer to the center. The difference is extremely slight, however, as a clock set one kilometer above another will only run a few seconds ahead of another in a million years.

However, optical lattice clocks are so fantastically precise that they offer the prospect of actually using the tiny difference to make measurements of the strength of the gravitational potential at different locations and different times, creating a new role for clocks beyond their traditional role as time-keepers.

This would make it possible to use clocks to take measurements of how different parts of the earth are moving, upward or downward, relative to others, and thus could contribute to a better understanding of geological processes such as those that lead to earthquakes.

To perform the feat, the group developed two optical lattice clocks, with atoms of strontium held in a laser-generated optical lattice with a "magic" wavelength, discovered by Katori, that allows precise measurement.

At this wavelength, the laser-generated optical lattice does not affect the atoms To eliminate perturbations from blackbody radiation--one of the principle sources of disturbances for the experiments--the containers were cooled to about -180 degrees Celsius using a special refrigerator, and the insides were coated in black to prevent reflections from even the small amount of light seeping in through the two holes, with diameters of just a millimeter and a half-millimeter, that were opened to allow the atoms and the lasers necessary to trap them in place in the set-up.

The strontium atoms were then inserted into the optical lattice, and the electronic transition frequency was compared between the two clocks for a period of a month. The results confirmed that great precision could be achieved with these clocks.

According to Katori, "It was a great feeling to have shown this excellent agreement between the clocks. If we can miniaturize this technology further, it would have useful applications, since tiny fluctuations in gravitational potential could be used to detect underground resources, underground spaces, and the movement of lava.

"We also hope that in the future, this will accelerate the movement toward a new definition of the international second, based on optical lattice clocks, to an even more stringent standard than the current definition of the second, which is based on cesium oscillation."

 

 

Cosmology: Late news from the Big Bang

 
‎18 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎05:33:25 AMGo to full article
Munich, Germany (SPX) Feb 09, 2015 - Viatcheslav Mukhanov, cosmologist at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich, models the first instants after the creation of our Universe. Data from the Planck telescope have now confirmed beyond any reasonable doubt his theory of the quantum origin of structure in the Universe.

What exactly happened after the Universe was born? Why did stars, planets and huge galaxies form? These are the questions that concern Viatcheslav Mukhanov, and he tries to find the answers with the help of mathematical physics.

Mukhanov, Professor of Physics at LMU, is an acknowledged expert in the field of Theoretical Cosmology - and he has used the notion of so-called quantum fluctuations to construct a theory that provides a precise picture of the crucial initial phase of the evolution of our Universe: For without the minimal variations in energy density that result from the tiny but unavoidable quantum fluctuations, one cannot account for the formation of stars, planets and galaxies that characterize the Universe we observe today.

The Planck Consortium has now published new analyses of data returned by the eponymous space telescope.

The telescope on board of the Planck satellite has measured the distribution of the cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB), which, in essence, tells us what the Universe looked like about 400,000 years after the Big Bang. These latest findings are in complete agreement with the predictions of Mukhanov's theory - for example, his calculation of the value of the so-called spectral index of the initial inhomogeneities.

As Jean-Loup Puget, Principal Investigator for the HFI-instrument on the Planck satellite, stated: "The Planck data confirm the basic predictions that quantum fluctuations are at the origin of all structures in the Universe." Mukhanov, who first published his model in 1981 and joined the Physics Faculty at LMU in 1997, says "I couldn't hope for a better verification of my theory."

Messages from the remote past
For Mukhanov, the idea that quantum fluctuations must have played a role in the very earliest phase of the history of the Universe is implicit in Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle. Heisenberg showed that there is a specific limit to the precision with which the position and the momentum of a particle can be determined at any given moment. This in turn implies that the initial matter distribution will inevitably exhibit minute inhomogeneities in density.

Mukhanov's calculations first demonstrated that such quantum fluctuations could give rise to density differences in the early Universe, which in turn could serve as seeds for the galaxies and their clusters. Indeed, without quantum fluctuations, whose nature and magnitude Mukhanov quantitatively characterized, the observed distribution of matter in the Universe would be inexplicable.

The latest study of the Planck datasets is more detailed and more informative than the preliminary analysis published about 2 years ago. It reveals with unprecedented precision the patterns imprinted by primordial fluctuations on the distribution of radiation in the young Universe.

Thus, instruments such as the Planck telescope can record these dispatches from an unimaginably remote past encoded in the microwave radiation that is still propagating through space - 13.8 billion years later. And from this information the Planck team can reconstruct a detailed picture of the distribution of matter at the birth of our Universe.

No observational evidence for gravitational waves
Furthermore, the Planck data show that a previously reported signal purportedly confirming the existence of so-called primordial gravitational waves can be largely attributed to dust in our own galaxy. The BICEP2 team is using a ground-based telescope in the Antarctic to search the CMB for signs of gravity waves produced immediately after the Big Bang. In March 2014, the team reported the detection of the long-sought pattern.

However, doubts soon emerged regarding this interpretation. Now a joint analysis by the Planck and BICEP2 teams has concluded that the data do not actually provide observational evidence for gravitational waves. In the spring of 2014 Viatcheslav Mukhanov had already asserted that, if the theory is correct, then the BICEP2 and Planck teams could not both be right. Thus this latest Planck-BICEP2 analysis reassures us that the theoretical framework is well-founded.

"Gravitational waves may well be there," he said then, "but clearly our instruments are not yet sensitive enough to pick them up." - Regardless of whether or not the search for primordial gravitational waves succeeds, he adds, no model that tries to capture the immediate aftermath of the Big Bang can now leave the quantum origin of the Universe's structure out.

 

 

Planck Mission Explores the History of Our Universe

 
‎15 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎11:10:31 AMGo to full article
Pasadena CA (JPL) Feb 09, 2015 - Hot gas, dust and magnetic fields mingle in a colorful swirl in this new map of our Milky Way galaxy. The image is part of a new and improved data set from Planck, a European Space Agency mission in which NASA played a key role.

Planck spent more than four years observing relic radiation left over from the birth of our universe, called the cosmic microwave background. The space telescope is helping scientists better understand the history and fabric of our universe, as well as our own Milky Way.

"Planck can see the old light from our universe's birth, gas and dust in our own galaxy, and pretty much everything in between, either directly or by its effect on the old light," said Charles Lawrence, the U.S. project scientist for the mission at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

The new data are available publicly Feb. 5, and now include observations made during the entire mission. The Planck team says these data are refining what we know about our universe, making more precise measurements of matter, including dark matter, and how it is clumped together. Other key properties of our universe are also measured with greater precision, putting theories of the cosmos to ever more stringent tests.

One cosmic property appears to have changed with this new batch of data: the length of time in which our universe remained in darkness during its infant stages. A preliminary analysis of the Planck data suggests that this epoch, a period known as the Dark Ages that took place before the first stars and other objects ignited, lasted more than 100 million years or so longer than thought.

Specifically, the Dark Ages ended 550 million years after the Big Bang that created our universe, later than previous estimates by other telescopes of 300 to 400 million years. Research is ongoing to confirm this finding.

The Planck data also support the idea that the mysterious force known as dark energy is acting against gravity to push our universe apart at ever-increasing speeds. Some scientists have proposed that dark energy doesn't exist. Instead, they say that what we know about gravity, as outlined by Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity, needs refining. In those theories, gravity becomes repulsive across great distances, eliminating the need for dark energy.

"So far Einstein is looking pretty good," said Martin White, a U.S. Planck team member from University of California, Berkeley. "The dark energy hypothesis is holding up very well, but this is not the end of the story."

What's more, the new Planck catalog of images now has more than 1,500 clusters of galaxies observed throughout the universe, the largest catalog of this type ever made. It is archived at the European Space Agency and, in the U.S., at NASA's Infrared Processing and Analysis Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. These galaxy clusters act as beacons at the crossroads of huge filamentary structures in a cosmic web. They help scientists trace our recent cosmic evolution.

A new analysis by the Planck team of more than 400 of these galaxy clusters gives us a new look at their masses, which range between 100 to 1,000 times that of our Milky Way galaxy. In one of the first-of-its-kind efforts, the Planck team obtained the cluster masses by observing how the clusters bend background microwave light. The results narrow in on the overall mass of hundreds of clusters, a huge step forward in better understanding dark matter and dark energy.

How can so much information about our universe, in both its past and current states, be gleaned from the Planck data? Planck, like its predecessor missions, captured ancient light that has traveled billions of years to reach us. This light, the cosmic microwave background, originated 370,000 years after the Big Bang, during a time when the flame of our universe cooled enough that light was no longer impeded by charged particles and could travel freely.

Planck's splotchy maps of this light show where matter had just begun to clump together into the seeds of the galaxies we see around us today. By analyzing the patterns of clumps, scientists can learn how conditions even earlier in the universe, just moments after its birth, set the clumping process in motion. What's more, the scientists can study how the ancient light has changed during its long journey to reach us, learning about the entire history of the cosmos.

"The cosmic microwave background light is a traveler from far away and long ago," said Lawrence. "When it arrives, it tells us about the whole history of our universe."

A big challenge for Planck scientists is sifting through all the long-wavelength light in our universe to pick out the signature from just the ancient cosmic microwave background. Much of our galaxy gives off light of the same wavelength, blocking our view of the relic radiation. But what might be one scientist's trash is another's treasure, as illustrated in the new map of the Milky Way released last week.

Light generated from within our galaxy, the same light subtracted from the ancient signal, comes to life gloriously in the new image. Gas, dust and magnetic field lines make up a frenzy of activity that shapes how stars form.

More papers analyzing the data are expected to come out next year.

James Bartlett, a U.S. Planck team member from JPL, said, "The kind of questions we ask now we never would have thought possible to even ask decades ago, long before Planck."

Planck launched in 2009 and completed its mission 4.5 years later in 2013. NASA's Planck Project Office is based at JPL. JPL contributed mission-enabling technology for both of Planck's science instruments. European, Canadian and U.S. Planck scientists work together to analyze the Planck data.

An interactive Web viewer for the images is online.

A narrated video explaining how Planck studies the entire history of our universe is online.

 

 

Fixed astronomical clock vital for galactic history

 
‎15 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎11:10:31 AMGo to full article
Canberra, Australia (SPX) Feb 06, 2015 - Scientists have settled a long running debate on one of the fundamental time measures for galactic history - the half-life of a radioactive isotope of iron.

The new, accurate figure for the iron-60 half-life will bring clarity to many details of how the heavy elements were formed during the evolution of the galaxy.

The team found that the half-life of iron-60 is 2.6 million years, resolving the large discrepancy between two previous measurements that found values of 1.5 million years and 2.62 million years respectively.

"The iron-60 half-life is integral to theories about supernovae and the early Solar System," said Dr Anton Wallner, from The Australian National University Research School of Physics and Engineering.

"Because iron-60 is formed predominantly in supernovae its presence on earth is thought to indicate that there were nearby supernovae in the last 10 million years. These may have had an effect on earth's climate or even triggered the birth of the solar system more than 4 billion years ago."

Most iron-60 is formed in massive stars, which explode at the end of their lives in a supernova event, spreading the radioactive element through space.

Today iron-60 can be observed directly in our Milky Way through characteristic radiation emitted during its radioactive decay, indicating where recent supernovae have created new elements.

The slow decay of iron-60 makes it difficult to measure the decay time precisely. The team used a unique mass spectrometer system at the Heavy Ion Accelerator Facility at ANU, which is more sensitive than previous experiments.

The team of scientists from Australia, Switzerland and Austria used artificially produced iron-60 extracted from nuclear waste.

 

 

Evidence mounts for quantum criticality theory

 
‎15 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎11:10:31 AMGo to full article
Houston TX (SPX) Feb 05, 2015 - A new study by a team of physicists at Rice University, Zhejiang University, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Florida State University and the Max Planck Institute adds to the growing body of evidence supporting a theory that strange electronic behaviors -- including high-temperature superconductivity and heavy fermion physics -- arise from quantum fluctuations of strongly correlated electrons.

The study, which appeared in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, describes results from a series of experiments on a layered composite of cerium, rhodium and indium. The experiments tested, for the first time, a prediction from a theory about the origins of quantum criticality that was published by Rice physicist Qimiao Si and colleagues in 2001.

"Our theory was a surprise at the time because it broke with the textbook framework and suggested that a broad range of phenomena -- including high-temperature superconductivity -- can only be explained in terms of the collective behavior of strongly correlated electrons rather than by the more familiar theory based on essentially decoupled electrons," said Si, a co-corresponding author on the new study and Rice's Harry C. and Olga K. Wiess Professor of Physics and Astronomy.

Experimental evidence in support of the theory has mounted over the past decade, and the PNAS study fills yet another gap. In the experiments, researchers probed high-quality samples of a heavy-fermion material known as CeRhIn5.

Heavy fermion materials like CeRhIn5 are prototype systems for quantum criticality. In these materials, electrons tend to act in unison, and even one electron moving through the system causes widespread effects. This "correlated electron" behavior is very different from the electron interactions in a common metal like copper, and physicists have become increasingly convinced that correlated electron behavior plays an important role in phenomena like superconductivity and quantum criticality.

Quantum critical points, near which these strange correlated effects are particularly pronounced, mark a smooth phase change, or transition from one state of matter to another. Just as the melting of ice involves a transition from a solid to a liquid state, the electronic state of quantum materials changes when the material is cooled to a quantum critical point.

The critical temperature of a material can be raised or lowered if the material is chemically altered, placed under high pressure or put into a strong magnet.

In the new experiments, which were carried out using the high magnetic field facilities at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and at Florida State University, researchers observed a magnetically induced quantum critical point at ambient pressure and compared it to the previously studied case of a pressure-induced quantum critical point.

The nature of the quantum critical point was probed by something called the "Fermi surface," a sort of three-dimensional map that represents the collective energy states of all electrons in the material.

When physicists have previously attempted to describe quantum phase transitions using traditional theories, equations dictate that the Fermi surface must change smoothly and gradually as the material passes through the critical point. In that case, most of the electrons on the Fermi surface are still weakly coupled to each other.

In contrast, Si's theory predicts that the Fermi surface undergoes a radical and instantaneous shift at the critical point. The electrons on the entire Fermi surface become strongly coupled, thereby giving rise to the strange-metal properties that allow unusual electronic states, including superconductivity.

"We observed exactly the sort of a sharp Fermi surface reconstruction predicted by theory of unconventional quantum criticality," said study co-author Frank Steglich, director of the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Physics of Solids in Dresden, Germany, and also of the Center for Correlated Matter at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China.

Zhejiang physicist Huiqiu Yuan, co-corresponding author on the study, said, "Our experiments demonstrate that direct measurements of a Fermi surface can distinguish theoretically proposed models of quantum criticality and point to a universal description of quantum phase transitions."

Heavy-fermion metals and high-temperature superconductors are examples of quantum matter, and the new research is an example of the pathbreaking, collaborative research that Rice hopes to foster with the new Rice Center for Quantum Materials.

Si, who also directs the new center, said, "Our study exemplifies the kind of progress in quantum materials that can be made through collaborations among theory, materials synthesis and spectroscopic measurements. At the Rice Center for Quantum Materials, we seek to foster this type of synergy, both internally at Rice University and through collaborations with our domestic and international partner institutions."

 

 

Physicists observe motion of skyrmions

 
‎15 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎11:10:31 AMGo to full article
Mainz, Germany (SPX) Feb 05, 2015 - Small magnetic whirls may revolutionize future data storage and information processing if they can be moved rapidly and reliably in small structures. A team of scientists of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) and TU Berlin, together with colleagues from the Netherlands and Switzerland, has now been able to investigate the dynamics of these whirls experimentally.

The skyrmions, as these tiny whirls are called after the British nuclear physicist Tony Skyrme, follow a complex trajectory and even continue to move after the external excitation is switched off.

This effect will be especially important when one wants to move a skyrmion to a selected position as necessary in a future memory device. This research was published in the journal Nature Physics with a student of the Graduate School of Excellence Materials Science in Mainz (MAINZ) as the first author.

Skyrmions are small whirls in the magnetization of magnetic materials. In the case of the present work, the skyrmions have a diameter of less than 100 nanometers. This corresponds roughly to a thousandth of a hair width.

To prepare these skyrmions, scientists at Mainz University prepared small magnetic discs. "When we apply a specific external magnetic field, the magnetization in these discs creates whirls," said Dr. Benjamin Kruger working in the group of Professor Mathias Klaui at the Institute of Physics at JGU. These skyrmions were then excited by a magnetic field pulse to trace their motion.

The scientists were now able to experimentally investigate the dynamics of these structures on short time scales for the first time. For these investigations, a holographic measurement setup using short and highly energetic X-ray pulses was used. This technique, which was developed at TU Berlin, can take images with a temporal separation of less than a nanosecond. The position of the whirl can be determined from these images to be compared with theoretical calculations.

"The measurements show that the skyrmions move on a very complex trajectory, a so- called hypo-cycloid," says Kruger. The fact that the skyrmions move on such a curved trajectory means that they must possess some inertia.

This is comparable to a car that continues to move, even though the gas pedal is no longer pressed. The inertia of the skyrmion stems from the fact that the whirl can deform. In this way it is able to store energy; after the excitation has stopped, this energy leads to a continuation of the motion.

"This effect has not been taken into account up to now, but it is important for the development of small magnetic memories," explained Professor Mathias Klaui. "This effect has to be taken into account to enable the distinct positioning of the skyrmion in the memory."

Skyrmions may be important for the future of magnetic data storage and information processing. These whirls can be moved rapidly and reliably along nanowires or other structures in future memories. Such a memory would retain its information even when the power is switched off. In addition, it would not need to contain any moving parts, such as a read and write head in a hard disk drive.

A comparison with computer simulations at Mainz University showed that the type of motion depends a little on the shape of the disk in which the whirl is formed. In addition, there is only a small dependence on defects in the material. There is, however, a substantial dependence on the shape of the whirl, its so-called topology. This implies that the present findings can be extended to all skyrmions with the same topology.

"I am happy about the good collaboration with our colleagues and about the fact that the experimental measurements, as well as the theory, were done by members of the JGU Institute of Physics and the MAINZ Graduate School of Excellence together," Klaui added.

Funding of the Graduate School Materials Science in Mainz was approved in the Excellence Initiative of the German federal and state governments in 2007 and was prolonged by an additional five years in the second round of the initiative in June 2012. MAINZ combines work groups from Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU), the University of Kaiserslautern, and the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research in Mainz. One of its research focuses is spintronics, a field in which collaborations with international partners play an important role.

 

 

Scientists: Evidence of Big Bang theory fails to space dust

 
‎15 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎11:10:31 AMGo to full article
Orsay, France (UPI) Jan 31, 2015 - Scientists have countered a controversial 2014 study that claimed to find evidence of the rapid expansion of the early universe, upending what was considered the best evidence of the Big Bang theory.

Scientists working with the European Space Agency's Planck satellite, which observes the Cosmic Microwave Background, said the apparent gravitational waves that were thought to be caused by cosmic inflation were instead space dust.

In March, researchers from the U.S.-led BICEP2 project at the South Pole said the gravitational waves were evidence of the "first big tremors of the Big Bang" about 13.8 billion years ago.

The BICEP2 team concluded the pattern they observed in polarized light in a small patch of sky originated in the primordial gravitational waves that astronomers believe would be present if cosmic inflation had occurred.

But in September Planck scientists revealed new data that showed polarized dust emissions were more widespread than previously thought.

Planck researchers teamed up with BICEP2 scientists and used the latest data from the Keck Array, also in the South Pole, to conduct a joint study, which found the same effect can be produced by interstellar dust in the Milky Way, our own galaxy.

"So, unfortunately, we have not been able to confirm that the signal is an imprint of cosmic inflation," Jean-Loup Puget, principal investigator of the HFI instrument on Planck at the Institut d'Astrophysique Spatiale in Orsay, France, said.

Researchers note, however, that cosmic inflation is still an open question.

"This [most recent] analysis shows that the amount of gravitational waves can probably be no more than about half the observed signal [from the 2014 study]", says Clem Pryke, a principal investigator of BICEP2 at University of Minnesota.

"The gravitational wave signal could still be there, and the search is definitely on."

 

 

A new instrument to study the extreme universe -- the X-Ray polarimeter X-Calibur

 
‎15 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎11:10:31 AMGo to full article
Singapore (SPX) Jan 29, 2015 - What are the high-energy processes in the Universe that occur in the immediate vicinity of a black hole? To study a question like this one cannot simply utilize a high-resolution telescope. Even with the best available telescopes, it is difficult or even impossible to directly resolve the regions of interest and the energies emitted from such objects extend to much higher energies, e.g. X-rays.

The astrophysics research group at Washington University in St.Louis built an instrument that is capable to measure the polarization properties of X-rays. This instrument, once flown in space, can be used in a novel approach to study the most extreme objects in the Universe, such as black holes and neutron stars.

Only the most extreme objects in the universe are capable of producing high-energy particles and emit radiation with energy in the X-ray band and above.

However, the regions of interest (black hole vicinities, formation zones of relativistic plasma jets, etc.) are too small to be spatially resolved with purely imaging instruments. The solution is to perform indirect measurements of those regions using the polarization properties of the emitted radiation - such as the orientation of the electric field vector of the X-ray photons.

Such observations are regularly performed at radio and optical wave bands, but sensitive polarization techniques have not yet available for observations at X-ray energies - needed to study the most extreme objects in the Universe.

The astrophysics research group at Washington University, led by Prof. Krawczynski and Prof. Beilicke, designed, built, and tested an X-ray polarimeter named X-Calibur. This instrument, once flown in space or as a scientific balloon payload, will be capable to study the energetic environments very close to the black hole.

"Only five years ago, we came up with the first design of the X-Ray polarimeter," Assistant Professor Matthias Beilicke said, "two years later we had a working prototype module and now the full instrument is ready to fly on an astrophysics mission."

"We are planning to have a scientific test flight of the instrument as a balloon payload at an altitude of >120,000 feet in the year 2016," Prof. Krawczynski said.

 

 

Researchers use sound to slow down, speed up, and block light

 
‎15 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎11:10:31 AMGo to full article
Chicago IL (SPX) Jan 29, 2015 - How do you make an optical fiber transmit light only one way? Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have experimentally demonstrated, for the first time, the phenomenon of Brillouin Scattering Induced Transparency (BSIT), which can be used to slow down, speed up, and block light in an optical waveguide.

The BSIT phenomenon permits light to travel in the forward direction while light traveling in the backward direction is strongly absorbed. This non-reciprocal behavior is essential for building isolators and circulators that are indispensible tools in an optical designer's toolkit.

In this study, the researchers demonstrated the BSIT phenomenon using nothing more complicated than a glass micro-fiber and a glass sphere adjacent to it.

"Light at certain wavelengths can be absorbed out of a thin optical waveguide by a microresonator--which is essentially a tiny glass sphere--when they are brought very close," explained Gaurav Bahl, an assistant professor of mechanical science and engineering at Illinois. "Through the BSIT phenomenon we can eliminate this opacity, i.e., we can make this system transparent again by adding another laser at a specially chosen wavelength nearby.

"The effect occurs due to the interaction of the light with sound waves present in the material, and is a new physical process that has never been seen before. The most significant aspect of our discovery is the observation that BSIT is a non-reciprocal phenomenon--the transparency is only generated one way. In the other direction, the system still absorbs light."

Time-reversal symmetry (i.e. reciprocity) is a fundamental tenet understood in most acoustic, electromagnetic, and thermodynamic contexts. Engineers are often forced to use tricks to break this time-reversal symmetry for specific device applications.

Current non-reciprocal optical devices--for example, isolators and circulators--are exclusively built using the Faraday magneto-optic effect. This method uses magnetic fields to break the time-reversal symmetry with certain specialized garnet and ferrite materials.

However, these materials are challenging to obtain at the chip-scale through conventional foundry processes. Magnetic fields are also sources of interference in many applications such as cold atom microsystems. These constraints have deterred availability of Faraday effect isolators for on-chip optical systems till date.

"We have demonstrated a method of obtaining linear optical non-reciprocity that requires no magnets, can be implemented in any common optical material system without needing ferrites, and could be implemented today in any commercial optical foundry," Bahl added. "Brillouin isolators do already exist, but they are nonlinear devices requiring filtering of the scattered light. BSIT, on the other hand, is a linear non-reciprocal mechanism."

"Brillouin-Mandelstam scattering, originally discovered in the early 1920s, is the coupling of light waves and sound waves through electrostrictive optical forces and acousto-optic scattering. It is the fundamental physical process behind BSIT, and occurs in all solids, liquids, gases, and even plasmas," stated JunHwan Kim, a graduate student at Illinois and first author of the paper, "Non-Reciprocal Brillouin Scattering Induced Transparency," appearing in the journal, Nature Physics.

BSIT also enables the speeding up and slowing down of the group velocity of light. Physicists call this "fast" and "slow" light. "Slow" light techniques are extremely useful for quantum information storage and optical buffer applications. Some day, such buffers could be incorporated in quantum computers.

"While it is already known that the slow and fast light can be obtained using Brillouin scattering, our device is far smaller and uses far less power than any other previous demonstration, by several orders-of-magnitude. However, we must sacrifice bandwidth to obtain such performance," Kim added.

In their studies, Bahl's research group uses the extremely minute forces exerted by light to generate and control mechanical vibrations of microscale and nanoscale devices--a field called optomechanics. In resonant microcavities, these miniscule forces can be enhanced by many orders of magnitude. They are using these phenomena to unearth new physics behind how solids, liquids, and gases interact with light.

 

 

Quantum computer as detector shows space is not squeezed

 
‎09 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎05:43:19 AMGo to full article
Berkeley CA (SPX) Jan 29, 2015 - Ever since Einstein proposed his special theory of relativity in 1905, physics and cosmology have been based on the assumption that space looks the same in all directions - that it's not squeezed in one direction relative to another.

A new experiment by University of California, Berkeley, physicists used partially entangled atoms - identical to the qubits in a quantum computer - to demonstrate more precisely than ever before that this is true, to one part in a billion billion.

The classic experiment that inspired Albert Einstein was performed in Cleveland by Albert Michelson and Edward Morley in 1887 and disproved the existence of an "ether" permeating space through which light was thought to move like a wave through water. What it also proved, said Hartmut Haffner, a UC Berkeley assistant professor of physics, is that space is isotropic and that light travels at the same speed up, down and sideways.

"Michelson and Morley proved that space is not squeezed," Haffner said. "This isotropy is fundamental to all physics, including the Standard Model of physics. If you take away isotropy, the whole Standard Model will collapse. That is why people are interested in testing this."

The Standard Model of particle physics describes how all fundamental particles interact, and requires that all particles and fields be invariant under Lorentz transformations, and in particular that they behave the same no matter what direction they move.

Haffner and his team conducted an experiment analogous to the Michelson-Morley experiment, but with electrons instead of photons of light. In a vacuum chamber he and his colleagues isolated two calcium ions, partially entangled them as in a quantum computer, and then monitored the electron energies in the ions as Earth rotated over 24 hours.

If space were squeezed in one or more directions, the energy of the electrons would change with a 12-hour period. It didn't, showing that space is in fact isotropic to one part in a billion billion (1018), 100 times better than previous experiments involving electrons, and five times better than experiments like Michelson and Morley's that used light.

The results disprove at least one theory that extends the Standard Model by assuming some anisotropy of space, he said.

Haffner and his colleagues, including former graduate student Thaned Pruttivarasin, now at the Quantum Metrology Laboratory in Saitama, Japan, will report their findings in the Jan. 29 issue of the journal Nature.

Entangled qubits
Haffner came up with the idea of using entangled ions to test the isotropy of space while building quantum computers, which involve using ionized atoms as quantum bits, or qubits, entangling their electron wave functions, and forcing them to evolve to do calculations not possible with today's digital computers. It occurred to him that two entangled qubits could serve as sensitive detectors of slight disturbances in space.

"I wanted to do the experiment because I thought it was elegant and that it would be a cool thing to apply our quantum computers to a completely different field of physics," he said. "But I didn't think we would be competitive with experiments being performed by people working in this field. That was completely out of the blue."

He hopes to make more sensitive quantum computer detectors using other ions, such as ytterbium, to gain another 10,000-fold increase in the precision measurement of Lorentz symmetry. He is also exploring with colleagues future experiments to detect the spatial distortions caused by the effects of dark matter particles, which are a complete mystery despite comprising 27 percent of the mass of the universe.

"For the first time we have used tools from quantum information to perform a test of fundamental symmetries, that is, we engineered a quantum state which is immune to the prevalent noise but sensitive to the Lorentz-violating effects," Haffner said. "We were surprised the experiment just worked, and now we have a fantastic new method at hand which can be used to make very precise measurements of perturbations of space."

 

 

Black Hole Chokes on a Swallowed Star

 
‎28 ‎January ‎2015, ‏‎01:58:49 AMGo to full article
Fort Davis TX (SPX) Jan 28, 2015 - A five-year analysis of an event captured by a tiny telescope at McDonald Observatory and followed up by telescopes on the ground and in space has led astronomers to believe they witnessed a giant black hole tear apart a star. The work is published this month in The Astrophysical Journal.

On January 21, 2009, the ROTSE IIIb telescope at McDonald caught the flash of an extremely bright event. The telescope's wide field of view takes pictures of large swathes of sky every night, looking for newly exploding stars as part of the ROTSE Supernova Verification Project (RSVP). Software then compares successive photos to find bright "new" objects in the sky - transient events like the explosion of a star or a gamma-ray burst.

With a magnitude of -22.5, this 2009 event was as bright as the "superluminous supernovae" (a new category of the brightest stellar explosions known) that the ROTSE team discovered at McDonald in recent years. The team nicknamed the 2009 event "Dougie," after a character in the cartoon South Park. (Its technical name is ROTSE3J120847.9+430121.)

The team thought Dougie might be a supernova, and set about looking for its host galaxy (which would be much too faint for ROTSE to see). They found that the Sloan Digital Sky Survey had mapped a faint red galaxy at Dougie's location. The team followed that up with new observations of the galaxy with one of the giant Keck telescopes in Hawaii, pinpointing the galaxy's distance at three billion light-years.

These deductions meant Dougie had a home - but just what was he? Team members had four possibilities: a superluminous supernova; a merger of two neutron stars; a gamma-ray burst; or a "tidal disruption event" - a star being pulled apart as it neared its host galaxy's central black hole.

To narrow it down, they studied Dougie in various ways. They made ultraviolet observations with the orbiting Swift telescope, and took many spectra from the ground with the 9.2-meter Hobby-Eberly Telescope at McDonald.

Finally, they used computer models of how the light from different possible physical processes that might explain how Dougie would behave - how it varies in brightness over time, and what chemical signatures it might show - and compared them to Dougie's actual behavior.

In detail, Dougie did not look like a supernova. The neutron star merger and gamma-ray burst possibilities were similarly eliminated.

"When we discovered this new object, it looked similar to supernovae we had known already," said lead author Jozsef Vinko of the University of Szeged in Hungary. "But when we kept monitoring its light variation, we realized that this was something nobody really saw before. Finding out that it was probably a supermassive black hole eating a star was a fascinating experience," Vinko said.

Team member J. Craig Wheeler, leader of the supernova group at The University of Texas at Austin, elaborated. "We got the idea that it might be a 'tidal disruption' event," he said, explaining that means that the enormous gravity of a black hole pulls on one side of the star harder than the other side, creating tides that rip the star apart.

"A star wanders near a black hole, the star's side nearer the black hole is pulled" on more than the star's far side, he said. "These especially large tides can be strong enough that you pull the star out into a noodle" shape.

The star "doesn't fall directly into the black hole," Wheeler said. "It might form a disk first. But the black hole is destined to swallow most of that material."

Though astronomers have seen black holes swallow stars before - though less than a dozen times - this one is special even in that rare company: It's not going down easy.

Models by team members James Guillochon of Harvard and Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz at the University of California, Santa Cruz, showed that the disrupted stellar matter was generating so much radiation that it pushed back on the infall. The black hole was choking on the rapidly infalling matter.

Based on the characteristics of the light from Dougie, and their deductions of the star's original mass, the team has determined that Dougie started out as a Sun-like star, before being ripped apart.

Their observations of the host galaxy, coupled with Dougie's behavior, led them to surmise that the galaxy's central black hole has the "rather modest" mass of about a million Suns, Wheeler said.

Delving into Dougie's behavior has unexpectedly resulted in learning more about small, distant galaxies, Wheeler said, musing "Who knew this little guy had a black hole?"

 

 

Yes, black holes exist in gravitational theories with unbounded speeds of propagation!

 
‎28 ‎January ‎2015, ‏‎01:58:49 AMGo to full article
Singapore (SPX) Jan 27, 2015 - Lorentz invariance (LI) is a cornerstone of modern physics, and strongly supported by observations. In fact, all the experiments carried out so far are consistent with it, and no evidence to show that such a symmetry needs to be broken at a certain energy scale. Nevertheless, there are various reasons to construct gravitational theories with broken LI.

In particular, our understanding of space-times at Plank scale is still highly limited, and the renomalizability and unitarity of gravity often lead to the violation of LI.

One concrete example is the Horava theory of quantum gravity, in which the LI is broken in the ultraviolet (UV), and the theory can include higher-dimensional spatial derivative operators, so that the UV behavior is dramatically improved and can be made (power-counting) renormalizable.

On the other hand, the exclusion of high-dimensional time derivative operators prevents the ghost instability, whereby the unitarity of the theory -- a problem that has been faced since 1977 [ K.S. Stelle, Phys. Rev. D16, 953 (1977)] -- is assured. In the infrared (IR) the lower dimensional operators take over, whereby a healthy low-energy limit is presumably resulted.

However, once LI is broken different species of particles can travel with different velocities, and in certain theories , such as the Horava theory mentioned above, they can be even arbitrarily large.

This suggests that black holes may not exist at all in such theories, as any signal initially trapped inside a horizon can penetrate it and propagate to infinity, as long as the signal has sufficiently large velocity (or energy). This seems in a sharp conflict with current observations, which strongly suggest that black holes exist in our universe [R. Narayan and J.E. MacClintock, Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc., 419, L69 (2012)].

A potential breakthrough was made recently by Blas and Sibiryakov [D. Blas and S. Sibiryakov, Phys. Rev. D84, 124043 (2011)], who found that there still exist absolute causal boundaries, the so-called universal horizons, and particles even with infinitely large velocities would just move around on these boundaries and cannot escape to infinity.

This has immediately attracted lot of attention. In particular, it was shown that the universal horizon radiates like a blackbody at a fixed temperature, and obeys the first law of black hole mechanics [P. Berglund, J. Bhattacharyya, and D. Mattingly, Phys. Rev. D85, 124019 (2012); Phys. Rev. Lett. 110, 071301 (2013)]. The main idea is as follows: In a given space-time, a globally timelike foliation parametrized by a scalar field, the so-called khronon, might exist.

Then, there is a surface at which the khronon diverges, while physically nothing singular happens there, including the metric and the space-time. Given that the khronon defines an absolute time, any object crossing this surface from the interior would necessarily also move back in absolute time, which is something forbidden by the definition of the causality of the theory. Thus, even particles with superluminal velocities cannot penetrate this surface, once they are trapped inside it.

In all studies of universal horizons carried out so far the khronon is part of the gravitational theory involved. To generalize the conception of the universal horizons to any gravitational theory with broken LI, recently Lin, Abdalla, Cai and Wang promoted the khronon to a test field, a similar role played by a Killing vector, so its existence does not affect the given space-time, but defines the properties of it.

By this way, such a field is no longer part of the underlaid gravitational theory and it may or may not exist in a given space-time, depending on the properties of the space-time considered. Then, they showed that the universal horizons indeed exist, by constructing concrete static charged solutions of the Horava gravity.

More important, they showed that such horizons exist not only in the IR limit of the theory, as has been considered so far in the literature, but also in the full Horava theory of gravity, that is, when high-order operators are not negligible.

 

 

Black hole on a diet creates a 'changing look' quasar

 
‎28 ‎January ‎2015, ‏‎01:58:49 AMGo to full article
New Haven CT (SPX) Jan 24, 2015 - Yale University astronomers have identified the first "changing look" quasar, a gleaming object in deep space that appears to have its own dimmer switch. The discovery may offer a glimpse into the life story of the universe's great beacons.

Quasars are massive, luminous objects that draw their energy from black holes. Until now, scientists have been unable to study both the bright and dim phases of a quasar in a single source.

As described in an upcoming edition of The Astrophysical Journal, Yale-led researchers spotted a quasar that had dimmed by a factor of six or seven, compared with observations from a few years earlier.

"We've looked at hundreds of thousands of quasars at this point, and now we've found one that has switched off," said C. Megan Urry, Yale's Israel Munson Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics, and the study's principal investigator. "This may tell us something about their lifetimes."

Stephanie LaMassa, a Yale associate research scientist, noticed the phenomenon during an ongoing probe of Stripe 82 -- a sliver of the sky found along the Celestial Equator. Stripe 82 has been scanned in numerous astronomical surveys, including the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.

"This is like a dimmer switch," LaMassa said. "The power source just went dim. Because the life cycle of a quasar is one of the big unknowns, catching one as it changes, within a human lifetime, is amazing."

Even more significant for astronomers was the weakening of the quasar's broad emission lines. Visible on the optical spectrum, these broad emission lines are signatures of gas that is too distant to be consumed by a black hole, yet close enough to be "excited" by energy from material that does fall into a black hole.

The change in the emission lines is what told researchers that the black hole had essentially gone on a diet, and was giving off less energy as a result. That's when the "changing look" quasar hit its dimmer switch, and most of its broad emission lines disappeared.

The Yale team analyzed a variety of observation data, including recent optical spectra information and archival optical photometry and X-ray spectra information. They needed to rule out the possibility the quasar merely appeared to lose brightness, due to a gas cloud or other object passing in front of it.

The findings may prove invaluable on several fronts. First, they provide direct information about the intermittent nature of quasar activity; even more intriguingly, they hint at the sporadic activity of black holes.

"It makes a difference to know how black holes grow," Urry said, noting that all galaxies have black holes, and quasars are a phase that black holes go through before becoming dormant. "This perhaps has implications for how the Milky Way looks today."

Additionally, there is the chance the quasar may fire up again, showing astronomers yet another changing look.

"Even though astronomers have been studying quasars for more than 50 years, it's exciting that someone like me, who has studied black holes for almost a decade, can find something completely new," LaMassa said.

 

 

Scientists set quantum speed limit

 
‎28 ‎January ‎2015, ‏‎01:58:49 AMGo to full article
Berkeley CA (SPX) Jan 28, 2015 - University of California, Berkeley, scientists have proved a fundamental relationship between energy and time that sets a "quantum speed limit" on processes ranging from quantum computing and tunneling to optical switching.

The energy-time uncertainty relationship is the flip side of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, which sets limits on how precisely you can measure position and speed, and has been the bedrock of quantum mechanics for nearly 100 years. It has become so well-known that it has infected literature and popular culture with the idea that the act of observing affects what we observe.

Not long after German physicist Werner Heisenberg, one of the pioneers of quantum mechanics, proposed his relationship between position and speed, other scientists deduced that energy and time were related in a similar way, implying limits on the speed with which systems can jump from one energy state to another.

The most common application of the energy-time uncertainty relationship has been in understanding the decay of excited states of atoms, where the minimum time it takes for an atom to jump to its ground state and emit light is related to the uncertainty of the energy of the excited state.

"This is the first time the energy-time uncertainty principle has been put on a rigorous basis - our arguments don't appeal to experiment, but come directly from the structure of quantum mechanics," said chemical physicist K. Birgitta Whaley, director of the Berkeley Quantum Information and Computation Center and a UC Berkeley professor of chemistry. "Before, the principle was just kind of thrown into the theory of quantum mechanics."

The new derivation of the energy-time uncertainty has application for any measurement involving time, she said, particularly in estimating the speed with which certain quantum processes - such as calculations in a quantum computer - will occur.

"The uncertainty principle really limits how precise your clocks can be," said first author Ty Volkoff, a graduate student who just received his Ph.D. in chemistry from UC Berkeley. "In a quantum computer, it limits how fast you can go from one state to the other, so it puts limits on the clock speed of your computer."

The new proof could even affect recent estimates of the computational power of the universe, which rely on the energy-time uncertainty principle.

Volkoff and Whaley included the derivation of the uncertainty principle in a larger paper devoted to a detailed analysis of distinguishable quantum states that appeared online Dec. 18 in the journal Physical Review A.

The problem of precision measurement
Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, proposed in 1927, states that it's impossible to measure precisely both the position and speed - or more properly, momentum - of an object. That is, the uncertainty in measurement of the position times the uncertainty in measurement of momentum will always be greater than or equal to Planck's constant. Planck's constant is an extremely small number (6.62606957 + 10-34 square meter-kilogram/second) that describes the graininess of space.

To physicists, an equally useful principle relates the uncertainties of measuring both time and energy: The variance of the energy of a quantum state times the lifetime of the state cannot be less than Planck's constant.

"When students first learn about time-energy uncertainty, they learn about the lifetime of atomic states or emission line widths in spectroscopy, which are very physical but empirical notions," Volkoff said.

This observed relationship was first addressed mathematically in a 1945 paper by two Russian physicists who dealt only with transitions between two obviously distinct energy states.

The new analysis by Volkoff and Whaley applies to all types of experiments, including those in which the beginning and end states may not be entirely distinct. The analysis allows scientists to calculate how long it will take for such states to be distinguishable from one another at any level of certainty.

"In many experiments that examine the time evolution of a quantum state, the experimenters are dealing with endpoints where the states are not completely distinguishable," Volkoff said. "But you couldn't determine the minimum time that process would take from our current understanding of the energy-time uncertainty."

Most experiments dealing with light, as in the fields of spectroscopy and quantum optics, involve states that are not entirely distinct, he said. These states evolve on time scales of the order of femtoseconds - millionths of a billionth of a second.

Alternatively, scientists working on quantum computers aim to establish entangled quantum states that evolve and perform a computation with speeds on the order of nanoseconds.

"Our analysis reveals that a minimal finite length of time must elapse in order to achieve a given success rate for distinguishing an initial quantum state from its time-evolved image using an optimal measurement," Whaley said.

The new analysis could help determine the times required for quantum tunneling, such as the tunneling of electrons through the band-gap of a semiconductor or the tunneling of atoms in biological proteins.

It also could be useful in a new field called "weak measurement," which involves tracking small changes in a quantum system, such as entangled qubits in a quantum computer, as the system evolves. No one measurement sees a state that is purely distinct from the previous state.

 

 

Inside the big wormhole

 
‎28 ‎January ‎2015, ‏‎01:58:49 AMGo to full article
Trieste, Italy (SPX) Jan 22, 2015 - "If we combine the map of the dark matter in the Milky Way with the most recent Big Bang model to explain the universe and we hypothesise the existence of space-time tunnels, what we get is that our galaxy could really contain one of these tunnels, and that the tunnel could even be the size of the galaxy itself. But there's more", explains Paolo Salucci, astrophysicist of the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) of Trieste and a dark matter expert.

"We could even travel through this tunnel, since, based on our calculations, it could be navigable. Just like the one we've all seen in the recent film 'Interstellar'". Salucci is among the authors of the paper recently published in Annals of Physics.

Although space-time tunnels (or wormholes or Einstein-Penrose bridges) have only recently gained great popularity among the public thanks to Christopher Nolan's sci-fi film, they have been the focus of astrophysicists' attention for many years.

"What we tried to do in our study was to solve the very equation that the astrophysicist 'Murph' was working on. Clearly we did it long before the film came out" jokes Salucci. "It is, in fact, an extremely interesting problem for dark matter studies".

"Obviously we're not claiming that our galaxy is definitely a wormhole, but simply that, according to theoretical models, this hypothesis is a possibility". Can it ever be tested experimentally? "In principle, we could test it by comparing two galaxies - our galaxy and another, very close one like, for example, the Magellanic Cloud, but we are still very far from any actual possibility of making such a comparison".

To reach their conclusions the astrophysicists combined the equations of general relativity with an extremely detailed map of the distribution of dark matter in the Milky Way: "the map was one we obtained in a study we carried out in 2013", explains Salucci. "Beyond the sci-fi hypothesis, our research is interesting because it proposes a more complex reflection on dark matter".

As Salucci points out, scientists have long tried to explain dark matter by hypothesising the existence of a particular particle, the neutralino, which, however, has never been identified at CERN or observed in the universe. But alternative theories also exist that don't rely on the particle, "and perhaps it's time for scientists to take this issue 'seriously'", concludes Salucci.

"Dark matter may be 'another dimension', perhaps even a major galactic transport system. In any case, we really need to start asking ourselves what it is".

 

 

Two or one splashing... It's different

 
‎28 ‎January ‎2015, ‏‎01:58:49 AMGo to full article
Bonn, Germany (SPX) Jan 23, 2015 - If two children splash in the sea high water waves will emerge due to constructive superposition. Different observations are made for the microscopic world in an experiment at the University of Bonn, where physicists used a laser beam to generate light waves from two cesium atoms.

The light waves were reflected back from two parallel mirrors. It turned out that this experimental arrangement suppressed the emergence of high light waves. With their results, which are published now in the "Physical Review Letters", the scientists observed the most fundamental scenario of light-matter interaction with two atoms.

The physicists at the University of Bonn confined two levitating cesium atoms in a light cage for photons. A laser beam continuously irradiated the two atoms, which scattered the laser light similar to levitating dust in a sunbeam. The scattered light waves superimpose and were reflected back onto the atoms by two parallel mirrors.

"We expected that two atoms in such a cage would behave differently from a single atom" says first author Dr. Rene Reimann, colleague of Prof. Dr. Dieter Meschede at the "Institut fur Angewandte Physik", University of Bonn.

This matches with our everyday experience: Two splashing children in the sea produce different water waves than a single child. However, for the light cage with the light waves emitted from the two atoms the analogy to the splashing children in the sea does not fully hold. Here no high light waves are observed.

Backaction suppresses high light waves
The surprising situation of the two atoms inside the light cage can be illustrated with two children in a swimming pool instead of the sea. Here the children create water waves that are partially reflected from the pool edge. Now the reflected waves and the forward running waves cancel each other.

"Due to this feedback two children can in the best case generate barely higher waves than a single child". Albeit by changing the distance between them, the kids in the pool can change the height of the water waves.

Keeping this in mind one can understand the situation of the two cesium atoms in the experiment: Even in the best case when the light waves of the two atoms constructively interfere barely more photons could be counted compared to the one atom case. "It became clear that the mirrors introduce a strong backaction that hinders the emergence of high light waves", describes Dieter Meschede.

New insights in light-matter interaction
Nevertheless minimal position changes of the levitating cesium atoms in the light cage can be detected through distinct changes in the height of the superimposed light waves.

"Up to now this was not possible. Now, this opens up new insights and experimental possibilities for the light-atom interaction of two-atom systems", says Rene Reimann. These new possibilities could support forward-looking technologies like quantum memories and quantum networks for telecommunication and computation.

So far, international teams of scientists observed the interaction of a single or many atoms with photons in a light cage. For his fundamental contributions to this research, Serge Haroche was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics in 2012.

Now, the physicists from Bonn achieved to observe the interaction of exactly two atoms in a light cage. "With this experiment the most fundamental case of collective light-matter interaction has been realized", says Dieter Meschede.

The research group "Quantum Technologies" at the University of Bonn experimentally investigates the controlled interaction between atoms and light. The group is focusing on the generation of particular quantum mechanical states.

 

 

Only the lonely...(reveal the secrets of atomic nuclei)

 
‎28 ‎January ‎2015, ‏‎01:58:49 AMGo to full article
Warsaw, Poland (SPX) Jan 23, 2015 - Individual protons and neutrons in atomic nuclei turn out not to behave according to the predictions made by existing theoretical models. This surprising conclusion, reached by an international team of physicists including staff members from the Faculty of Physics at the University of Warsaw (UW), forces us to reconsider how we have been describing large atomic nuclei for the past several decades.

Atomic nuclei shape the nature of our reality: around 99.9% of the mass of all matter is contained within them. Yet in spite of their ubiquity and significance, they still remain relatively poorly understood by contemporary physics.

The main barrier to formulating a consistent theoretical description of atomic nuclei is the complexity of the interactions between their component particles, namely protons and neutrons. The situation becomes even more complicated when the nucleus contains a high number of particles.

Writing in the prestigious physics journal Physical Review Letters, a team of scientists from Poland (UW Faculty of Physics), Finland and Sweden have demonstrated that we have to modify the existing model of atomic nuclei containing a significant and almost magic number of both protons and neutrons.

"We have shown that one of the two main physical factors taken into consideration in our models of certain large atomic nuclei is not actually all that significant. In practice, this means that the physics of such nuclei operate in a slightly different way than previously thought," says Prof. Jacek Dobaczewski from the Institute of Theoretical Physics at the UW Faculty of Physics.

When physicists describe the motion of electrons in atoms, they generally assume that they move in an electrostatic field originating from the neighbouring electrons and from the distant atomic nucleus.

The model predicts the formation of distinct electron shells with different capacities: the first can fit the maximum of 2 electrons, with 8 on the second, 18 on the third, and so on. Physicists also apply a similar model to the atomic nuclei themselves; however, this is made more difficult by the complex interactions between subatomic particles within the nucleus.

"In atoms, each electron is located at a great distance from other electrons and the atomic nucleus. As such, we can safely assume that distinct electrons move in a single, averaged field of interactions originating from the remaining atomic components.

However, protons and neutrons in atomic nuclei are very close together, and they all exist in a field which they also actively shape," explains Dr. Dimitar Tarpanov (University of Warsaw).

As is the case with electrons, the averaged-field model predicts the existence of shells within the nucleus - shells with the greatest probability of a proton or a neutron being found there. Subsequent nuclear shells are complete when they contain 2, 8, 20, 28, 50, 82, and 126 protons (the same numbers apply to neutron shells). Additional filled shells appear at levels 114, 120 and 126 for protons, and 184 for neutrons.

These are known as "magic" numbers; an atomic nucleus is dubbed as being "double magic" when it contains a magic number of protons alongside a magic number of neutrons.

The researchers were especially interested in situations where an atomic nucleus is in an almost double magic state: one of the shells is complete, whereas the next, outermost shell contains just a single proton or neutron. The question was, what interactions will determine the motion of this "lonely" particle?

For several decades now, in order to remain consistent with measurements taken in physics laboratories around the globe, in addition to the averaged field the existing model of large atomic nuclei has taken account of additional effects: the vibrations and motions of nucleons caused by quantum effects.

In certain cases, such vibrations may even affect the appearance of a nucleus by flattening it slightly or rendering it pear-shaped. Such modifications would also have to affect the field of motion of a solitary proton or neutron moving in the outermost shell of the atomic nucleus.

Physicists have used experimental data available for double magic nuclei of oxygen 16O, calcium 40Ca and 48Ca, nickel 56Ni, tin 132Sn and lead 208Pb, as well as for nearly double magic nuclei such as 207Pb and 209Pb. The data were used to precisely fit various parameters used in the existing model.

Theoretical analysis leaves no doubt: quantum effects and the vibrations that go with them turn out to have a significantly lower effect on the motion of individual particles in the nuclear shell than previously thought.

"This is a fascinating result. Since quantum effects in a nucleus as large as 209Pb are not terribly significant, that means that the existing model of the average field itself does not fully reflect reality. There is something we are failing to take into account. I wonder what that is...?" adds Prof. Dobaczewski.

Such work on devising a precise and consistent description of phenomena occurring in light, heavy and superheavy atomic nuclei has significant practical applications. Our understanding of the physics of atomic nuclei is used in the construction of nuclear power plants, the design of future thermonuclear power plants, the military, nuclear medicine, tissue imaging, and in diagnostics and cancer therapies.

Furthermore, nuclear processes and interactions are fundamental to the way we describe stars in the Universe. Theoretical methods developed to describe the interactions of many particles in atomic nuclei also have numerous applications in nuclear physics and condensed matter physics, and also in quantum chemistry, in the spectral analysis of excited states of atomic nuclei, atoms and molecules.

The research has been financed through the ENSAR project ran as part of EU's FP7, Poland's National Science Centre, Finland's FIDIPRO academic programme, and the Bulgarian Research Fund.

Physics and Astronomy first appeared at the University of Warsaw in 1816, under the then Faculty of Philosophy. In 1825 the Astronomical Observatory was established. Currently, the Faculty of Physics' Institutes include Experimental Physics, Theoretical Physics, Geophysics, Department of Mathematical Methods and an Astronomical Observatory.

Research covers almost all areas of modern physics, on scales from the quantum to the cosmological. The Faculty's research and teaching staff includes ca. 200 university teachers, of which 88 are employees with the title of professor. The Faculty of Physics, University of Warsaw, is attended by ca. 1000 students and more than 170 doctoral students.

 

 

Atoms can be in 2 places at the same time

 
‎28 ‎January ‎2015, ‏‎01:58:49 AMGo to full article
Bonn, Germany (SPX) Jan 21, 2015 - Can a penalty kick simultaneously score a goal and miss? For very small objects, at least, this is possible: according to the predictions of quantum mechanics, microscopic objects can take different paths at the same time. The world of macroscopic objects follows other rules: the football always moves in a definite direction. But is this always correct?

Physicists of the University of Bonn have constructed an experiment designed to possibly falsify this thesis. Their first experiment shows that Caesium atoms can indeed take two paths at the same time.

Almost 100 years ago physicists Werner Heisenberg, Max Born und Erwin Schrodinger created a new field of physics: quantum mechanics. Objects of the quantum world - according to quantum theory - no longer move along a single well-defined path.

Rather, they can simultaneously take different paths and end up at different places at once. Physicists speak of quantum superposition of different paths.

At the level of atoms, it looks as if objects indeed obey quantum mechanical laws. Over the years, many experiments have confirmed quantum mechanical predictions. In our macroscopic daily experience, however, we witness a football flying along exactly one path; it never strikes the goal and misses at the same time. Why is that so?

"There are two different interpretations," says Dr. Andrea Alberti of the Institute of Applied Physics of the University of Bonn.

"Quantum mechanics allows superposition states of large, macroscopic objects. But these states are very fragile, even following the football with our eyes is enough to destroy the superposition and makes it follow a definite trajectory."

Do "large" objects play by different rules?
But it could also be that footballs obey completely different rules than those applying for single atoms. "Let us talk about the macro-realistic view of the world," Alberti explains.

"According to this interpretation, the ball always moves on a specific trajectory, independent of our observation, and in contrast to the atom."

But which of the two interpretations is correct? Do "large" objects move differently from small ones? In collaboration with Dr. Clive Emary of the University of Hull in the U.K., the Bonn team has come up with an experimental scheme that may help to answer this question. "The challenge was to develop a measurement scheme of the atoms' positions which allows one to falsify macro-realistic theories," adds Alberti.

The physicists describe their research in the journal Physical Review X: With two optical tweezers they grabbed a single Caesium atom and pulled it in two opposing directions. In the macro-realist's world the atom would then be at only one of the two final locations. Quantum-mechanically, the atom would instead occupy a superposition of the two positions.

"We have now used indirect measurements to determine the final position of the atom in the most gentle way possible," says the PhD student Carsten Robens. Even such an indirect measurement (see figure) significantly modified the result of the experiments. This observation excludes - falsifies, as Karl Popper would say more precisely - the possibility that Caesium atoms follow a macro-realistic theory.

Instead, the experimental findings of the Bonn team fit well with an interpretation based on superposition states that get destroyed when the indirect measurement occurs. All that we can do is to accept that the atom has indeed taken different paths at the same time.

"This is not yet a proof that quantum mechanics hold for large objects," cautions Alberti. "The next step is to separate the Caesium atom's two positions by several millimetres. Should we still find the superposition in our experiment, the macro-realistic theory would suffer another setback."

 

 

Exotic, gigantic molecules fit inside each other like Russian nesting dolls

 
‎24 ‎January ‎2015, ‏‎07:28:46 PMGo to full article
Chicago IL (SPX) Jan 23, 2015 - University of Chicago scientists have experimentally observed for the first time a phenomenon in ultracold, three-atom molecules predicted by Russian theoretical physicsist Vitaly Efimov in 1970. In this quantum phenomenon, called geometric scaling, the triatomic molecules fit inside one another like an infinitely large set of Russian nesting dolls.

"This is a new rule in chemistry that molecular sizes can follow a geometric series, like 1, 2, 4, 8...," said Cheng Chin, professor in physics at UChicago. "In our case, we find three molecular states in this sequence where one molecular state is about 5 times larger than the previous one."

Chin and four members of his research group published their findings Dec. 9, 2014, in Physical Review Letters.

"Quantum theory makes the existence of these gigantic molecules inevitiable, provided proper--and quite challenging--conditions are created," said Efimov, now at the University of Washington.

The UChicago team observed three molecules in the series, consisting of one lithim atom and two cesium atoms in a vacuum chamber at the ultracold temperature of approximately 200 nanokelvin, a tiny fraction of a degree above absolute zero (minus 459.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

Infinitely large molecules
Given an infinitely large universe, the number of increasingly larger molecules in this cesium-lithium system also would extend to infinity. This remarkable idea stems from the exotic nature of quantum mechanics, which conforms confirms to different laws of physics than those that govern the universe on a macroscopic scale.

"These are certainly exotic molecules," said Shih-Kuang Tung, the postdoctoral scholar, now at Northwestern University, who led the project. Only under strict conditions could Tung and his colleagues see the geometric scaling in their Efimov molecules. It appears that neither two-atom nor four-atom molecules can achieve the Efimov state. "There's a special case for three atoms," Chin said.

Efimov's reaction to the research was twofold. "First, I am amazed by the predictive power of the quantum theory," he said. "Second, I am amazed by the skill of the experimentalists who managed to create those challenging conditions."

The finding is important because it shows that Efimov molecules, like other complex phenomena in nature, follow a simple mathematical rule. One other example in nature that displays geometric scaling are snowflakes, rooted in the microscopic physics of their hexagonal crystal structure.

A team at the University of Innsbruck in Austria, which included Chin, experimentally observed the first Efimov molecular state in 2006 in molecules consisting of three cesium atoms. In this Efimov state, three cesium atoms become entangled at temperatures slightly above absolute zero. They form a Borromean ring of three interlocking circles. Any two of them, however, will not interlock.

Chin switched his interest to lithium-cesium molecules in 2010 because observing geometrical scaling in the cesium system presented severe experimental difficulties.

Scaling factor
"The difficulty is that based on what we understand of Efimov's theory, the scaling factor is predicted to be 22.7 for the cesium system, which is a very large number," explained Chin, who also is a member of UChicago's James Franck and Enrico Fermi institutes. Scaling at such a large value demands an extremely low temperature, challenging to reach experimentally.

But the scaling factor of the lithium-cesium triatomic molecule was predicted to be more managable of 4.8. Indeed, after setting up their experiment, "We were able to see three of them at a more accessible temperature of 200 nano-Kelvin," Chin said. "Their sizes are measured to be 17, 86 and 415 nano-meters, respectively. They closely follow a geometric progression with the predicted scaling factor."

But even the lithium-cesium system presented a difficulty: the significantly differing masses of the two elements, which was critical for observing multiple Efimov states. Lithium is one of the lightest elements on the periodic table, while cesium is quite heavy. "One is really massive compared to the other," Tung said.

He compared working both elements into an ultracold experiment to dangling a monkey and an elephant from springs. They would hang at different levels, but they still needed to interact.

In the experiment, the UChicago physicists lowered the temperatures of the lithium and ceisum atoms separately, then brought them together to form the triatomic, Efimov molecules.

"It's a very complicated experiment," Tung said, one requiring an ultracold experimental tool called Feshbach resonance. Carried out in a magnetic field, Feshbach resonance allowed researchers to bind and control the interactions between the cesium and lithium atoms.

Cold atoms are subject to manipulation via Feshbach resonance, which allows the observation of geometric scaling. "Feshbach resonance is a really important tool for us," Tung said. He and his associates learned how to wield the tool effectively in the past three years.

"We needed to tune the Feshbach resonances very carefully in order to generate these Efimov molecules," Tung said.

The efforts culminated in experimental success. Efimov said the results made him feel like the parent of a successful child. "The parent is proud of the child's achievement, and he is also pround that in a sense he is part of the child's success."

 
 

Galactic 'hailstorm' in the early universe

 
‎19 ‎January ‎2015, ‏‎06:15:08 PMGo to full article
Boston MA (SPX) Jan 19, 2015 - Two teams of astronomers led by researchers at the University of Cambridge have looked back nearly 13 billion years, when the Universe was less than 10 percent its present age, to determine how quasars - extremely luminous objects powered by supermassive black holes with the mass of a billion suns - regulate the formation of stars and the build-up of the most massive galaxies.

Using a combination of data gathered from powerful radio telescopes and supercomputer simulations, the teams found that a quasar spits out cold gas at speeds up to 2000 kilometres per second, and across distances of nearly 200,000 light years - much farther than has been observed before.

How this cold gas - the raw material for star formation in galaxies - can be accelerated to such high speeds had remained a mystery. Detailed comparison of new observations and supercomputer simulations has only now allowed researchers to understand how this can happen: the gas is first heated to temperatures of tens of millions of degrees by the energy released by the supermassive black hole powering the quasar.

This enormous build-up of pressure accelerates the hot gas and pushes it to the outskirts of the galaxy.

The supercomputer simulations show that on its way out of the parent galaxy, there is just enough time for some of the hot gas to cool to temperatures low enough to be observable with radio telescopes. The results are presented in two separate papers published in the journals Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society and Astronomy and Astrophysics.

Quasars are amongst the most luminous objects in the Universe, and the most distant quasars are so far away that they allow us to peer back billions of years in time. They are powered by supermassive black holes at the centre of galaxies, surrounded by a rapidly spinning disk-like region of gas. As the black hole pulls in matter from its surroundings, huge amounts of energy are released.

"It is the first time that we have seen outflowing cold gas moving at these large speeds at such large distances from the supermassive black hole," said Claudia Cicone, a PhD student at Cambridge's Cavendish Laboratory and Kavli Institute for Cosmology, and lead author on the first of the two papers. "It is very difficult to have matter with temperatures this low move as fast as we observed."

Cicone's observations allowed the second team of researchers specialising in supercomputer simulations to develop a detailed theoretical model of the outflowing gas around a bright quasar.

"We found that while gas is launched out of the quasar at very high temperatures, there is enough time for some of it to cool through radiative cooling - similar to how the Earth cools down on a cloudless night," said Tiago Costa, a PhD student at the Institute of Astronomy and the Kavli Institute for Cosmology, and lead author on the second paper.

"The amazing thing is that in this distant galaxy in the young Universe the conditions are just right for enough of the fast moving hot gas to cool to the low temperatures that Claudia and her team have found."

Working at the IRAM Plateau De Bure interferometer in the French Alps, the researchers gathered data in the millimetre band, which allows observation of the emission from the cold gas which is the primary fuel for star formation and main ingredient of galaxies, but is almost invisible at other wavelengths.

 

 

Race of the electrons

 
‎19 ‎January ‎2015, ‏‎06:15:08 PMGo to full article
Vienna, Austria (SPX) Jan 15, 2015 - It is easy to measure electric current. But it is extremely hard to watch the individual electrons which make up this current. Electrons race through the metal with a speed of several million meters per second, and the distance they have to cover between two adjacent atoms is very small. This means that tiny time intervals have to be resolved in order to watch the electrons dashing through the metal.

Measurements in Garching (Germany) and theoretical calculations at the Vienna University of Technology (Austria) have now made this possible. As it turns out, the motion of the electrons in the metal is remarkably similar to ballistic motion in free space. The results have now been published in the journal "Nature".

The Tiny Timescales of the Quantum World
Albert Einstein already explained the "photoelectric effect" in 1905: light transfers energy to an electron, removing it from the metal. This happens so fast that for a long time it seemed impossible to study the time evolution of this process. In recent years, however, attosecond physics has advanced dramatically, so that time resolved analysis of this process has become possible.

An attosecond is a billionth of a billionth of a second (10^-18 seconds). This is approximately the time it takes light to travel the distance from one atom to the next. Using ultrashort laser pulses, time can now be measured with a precision in the attosecond range.

The data which has now been published in "Nature" was measured at the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics in Garching, in a collaboration with TU Munich, the Fritz Haber Institute in Berlin, the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter in Hamburg and LMU Munich. At the Vienna University of Technology, theoretical models and large-scale computer simulations have been developed, in order to analyse and interpret the results.

Racing Electrons
"The experiment allows us to watch a race of electrons", says Professor Joachim Burgdorfer (TU Vienna). Two different metals - tungsten and magnesium - are stacked and hit with a laser pulse. Either in the magnesium or in the tungsten layer, the light can remove electrons, which then find their way to the surface. The distance the electrons have to cover is less than a nanometer, but still it is possible to quantify the lead of the electrons from the magnesium layer, arriving shortly before the electrons from the tungsten layer.

The distance of this race can be tuned: one to five atomic layers of magnesium are deposited on tungsten.

"The thicker the magnesium layer, the larger the lead of its electrons compared to the electrons coming from the tungsten layer", says Christoph Lemell (TU Vienna). The simple relationship between layer thickness and arrival time shows that the electrons travel through the metal ballistically, on rather undisturbed and straight lines. Complex scattering processes do not play an important role on theses time and length scales.

For precise timing, it is crucial to have a very well defined finish line. For the photo-finish, a second laser was used. It influences the electrons the moment they left the metal, but not before. The laser beam must not penetrate the metal.

"Within a distance shorter than the spacing between the metal atoms, the intensity of the laser field changes dramatically", says Georg Wachter (TU Vienna). The field of the laser beam is reduced to almost zero in the outermost layer, whereas right outside the metal the electrons immediately enter a strong laser field. This sharp contrast is the reason these extremely precise time measurements become possible.

The new findings are expected to help with the miniaturization of electronic and photonic elements - and they are another proof for the amazing possibilities of attosecond physics. "This new area of research gives us new methods to develop quantum technologies and study fundamental questions of materials science and electronics", says Joachim Burgdorfer.

 

 

Rapid journey through a crystal lattice

 
‎19 ‎January ‎2015, ‏‎06:15:08 PMGo to full article
Munich, Germany (SPX) Jan 15, 2015 - The time frames, in which electrons travel within atoms, are unfathomably short. For example, electrons excited by light change their quantum-mechanical location within mere attoseconds - an attosecond corresponds to a billionth of a billionth of a second.

But how fast do electrons whiz across distances corresponding to the diameter of individual atomic layers? Such distances are but a few billionths of a meter. An international team of researchers led by Reinhard Kienberger, Professor for Laser and X-Ray Physics at the TUM and Head of a Research Group at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics investigated the travel times of electrons over these extremely short distances.

To do so, the physicists applied a defined number of layers of magnesium atoms on top of a tungsten crystal. The researchers directed two pulses of light at these samples.

The first pulse lasted approximately 450 attoseconds, at frequencies within the extreme ultraviolet. This light pulse penetrated the material and released an electron from a magnesium atom in the layer system as well as from an atom in the underlying tungsten crystal. Both the electrons that were set free stemmed from the immediate vicinity of the nucleus.

Once released, the "tungsten electron" and the "magnesium electron" travelled through the crystal to the surface at which point they left the solid body. (electrons from the tungsten crystal managed to penetrate up to four layers of magnesium atoms.) There, the particles were captured by the electric field of the second pulse, an infrared wave train lasting less than five femtoseconds.

As the "tungsten electron" and the "magnesium electron" reached the surface at different times due to different path lengths, they experienced the second pulse of infrared light at different times.

That is, they were exposed to different strengths of the oscillating electric field. As a result, both particles were accelerated to varying degrees. From the resulting differences in the energy of the electrons, the researchers were able to determine how long an electron needed to pass through a single layer of atoms.

The measurements showed that upon release a "tungsten electron" possesses a speed of about 5000 kilometers per second. When travelling through a layer of magnesium atoms it is delayed by approximately 40 attoseconds, i.e., this is exactly the time required to travel through this layer.

The experiments provide insight into how electrons move within the widely unknown microcosm.

Knowing how fast an electron travels from one place to the next is of substantial importance for many applications: "While a large number of electrons are able to cover increasingly large distances in today's transistors, for example, individual electrons could transmit a signal through nanostructures in future", explains Prof. Reinhard Kienberger.

"As a result, electronic devices like computers could be made to be several times faster and smaller."

 

 

Unusual Light Signal Yields Clues About Elusive Black Hole Merger

 
‎19 ‎January ‎2015, ‏‎06:15:08 PMGo to full article
Pasadena CA (SPX) Jan 13, 2015 - The central regions of many glittering galaxies, our own Milky Way included, harbor cores of impenetrable darkness-black holes with masses equivalent to millions, or even billions, of suns. What is more, these supermassive black holes and their host galaxies appear to develop together, or co-evolve.

Theory predicts that as galaxies collide and merge, growing ever more massive, so too do their dark hearts. Black holes by themselves are impossible to see, but their gravity can pull in surrounding gas to form a swirling band of material called an accretion disk.

The spinning particles are accelerated to tremendous speeds and release vast amounts of energy in the form of heat and powerful X-rays and gamma rays. When this process happens to a supermassive black hole, the result is a quasar-an extremely luminous object that outshines all of the stars in its host galaxy and that is visible from across the universe.

"Quasars are valuable probes of the evolution of galaxies and their central black holes,"says George Djorgovski, professor of astronomy and director of the Center for Data-Driven Discovery at Caltech.

In the journal Nature, Djorgovski and his collaborators report on an unusual repeating light signal from a distant quasar that they say is most likely the result of two supermassive black holes in the final phases of a merger-something that is predicted from theory but which has never been observed before.

The discovery could help shed light on a long-standing conundrum in astrophysics called the "final parsec problem,"which refers to the failure of theoretical models to predict what the final stages of a black hole merger look like or even how long the process might take.

"The end stages of the merger of these supermassive black hole systems are very poorly understood,"says the study's first author, Matthew Graham, a senior computational scientist at Caltech.

The discovery of a system that seems to be at this late stage of its evolution means we now have an observational handle on what is going on.

Djorgovski and his team discovered the unusual light signal emanating from quasar PG 1302-102 after analyzing results from the Catalina Real-Time Transient Survey (CRTS), which uses three ground telescopes in the United States and Australia to continuously monitor some 500 million celestial light sources strewn across about 80 percent of the night sky.

"There has never been a data set on quasar variability that approaches this scope before,"says Djorgovski, who directs the CRTS. "In the past, scientists who study the variability of quasars might only be able to follow some tens, or at most hundreds, of objects with a limited number of measurements. In this case, we looked at a quarter million quasars and were able to gather a few hundred data points for each one."

"Until now, the only known examples of supermassive black holes on their way to a merger have been separated by tens or hundreds of thousands of light years,"says study coauthor Daniel Stern, a scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "At such vast distances, it would take many millions, or even billions, of years for a collision and merger to occur.

In contrast, the black holes in PG 1302-102 are, at most, a few hundredths of a light year apart and could merge in about a million years or less.

Djorgovski and his team did not set out to find a black hole merger. Rather, they initially embarked on a systematic study of quasar brightness variability in the hopes of finding new clues about their physics.

But after screening the data using a pattern-seeking algorithm that Graham developed, the team found 20 quasars that seemed to be emitting periodic optical signals.

This was surprising, because the light curves of most quasars are chaotic-a reflection of the random nature by which material from the accretion disk spirals into a black hole.

"You just don't expect to see a periodic signal from a quasar,"Graham says. "When you do, it stands out." Of the 20 periodic quasars that CRTS identified, PG 1302-102 was the best example. It had a strong, clean signal that appeared to repeat every five years or so. "It has a really nice smooth up-and-down signal, similar to a sine wave, and that just hasn't been seen before in a quasar,"Graham says.

The team was cautious about jumping to conclusions. "We approached it with skepticism but excitement as well,"says study coauthor Eilat Glikman, an assistant professor of physics at Middlebury College in Vermont.

After all, it was possible that the periodicity the scientists were seeing was just a temporary ordered blip in an otherwise chaotic signal. To help rule out this possibility, the scientists pulled in data about the quasar from previous surveys to include in their analysis.

After factoring in the historical observations (the scientists had nearly 20 years' worth of data about quasar PG 1302-102), the repeating signal was, encouragingly, still there. The team's confidence increased further after Glikman analyzed the quasar's light spectrum.

The black holes that scientists believe are powering quasars do not emit light, but the gases swirling around them in the accretion disks are traveling so quickly that they become heated into glowing plasma.

"When you look at the emission lines in a spectrum from an object, what you're really seeing is information about speed-whether something is moving toward you or away from you and how fast. It's the Doppler effect,"Glikman says.

"With quasars, you typically have one emission line, and that line is a symmetric curve. But with this quasar, it was necessary to add a second emission line with a slightly different speed than the first one in order to fit the data. That suggests something else, such as a second black hole, is perturbing this system."

Avi Loeb, who chairs the astronomy department at Harvard University, agreed with the team's assessment that a "tight"supermassive black hole binary is the most likely explanation for the periodic signal they are seeing.

"The evidence suggests that the emission originates from a very compact region around the black hole and that the speed of the emitting material in that region is at least a tenth of the speed of light,"says Loeb, who did not participate in the research.

A secondary black hole would be the simplest way to induce a periodic variation in the emission from that region, because a less dense object, such as a star cluster, would be disrupted by the strong gravity of the primary black hole.

In addition to providing an unprecedented glimpse into the final stages of a black hole merger, the discovery is also a testament to the power of "big data"science, where the challenge lies not only in collecting high-quality information but also devising ways to mine it for useful information.

"We're basically moving from having a few pictures of the whole sky or repeated observations of tiny patches of the sky to having a movie of the entire sky all the time,"says Sterl Phinney, a professor of theoretical physics at Caltech, who was also not involved in the study.

Many of the objects in the movie will not be doing anything very exciting, but there will also be a lot of interesting ones that we missed before. It is still unclear what physical mechanism is responsible for the quasar's repeating light signal.

One possibility, Graham says, is that the quasar is funneling material from its accretion disk into luminous twin plasma jets that are rotating like beams from a lighthouse. "If the glowing jets are sweeping around in a regular fashion, then we would only see them when they're pointed directly at us. The end result is a regularly repeating signal,"Graham says.

Another possibility is that the accretion disk that encircles both black holes is distorted. "If one region is thicker than the rest, then as the warped section travels around the accretion disk, it could be blocking light from the quasar at regular intervals. This would explain the periodicity of the signal that we're seeing,"Graham says.

Yet another possibility is that something is happening to the accretion disk that is causing it to dump material onto the black holes in a regular fashion, resulting in periodic bursts of energy.

"Even though there are a number of viable physical mechanisms behind the periodicity we're seeing-either the precessing jet, warped accretion disk or periodic dumping-these are all still fundamentally caused by a close binary system,"Graham says.

Along with Djorgovski, Graham, Stern, and Glikman, additional authors on the paper, "A possible close supermassive black hole binary in a quasar with optical periodicity,"include Andrew Drake, a computational scientist and co-principal investigator of the CRTS sky survey at Caltech; Ashish Mahabal, a staff scientist in computational astronomy at Caltech; Ciro Donalek, a computational staff scientist at Caltech; Steve Larson, a senior staff scientist at the University of Arizona; and Eric Christensen, an associate staff scientist at the University of Arizona.

Funding for the study was provided by the National Science Foundation.

 

 

New catalyst process uses light, not metal, for rapid polymerization

 
‎19 ‎January ‎2015, ‏‎06:15:08 PMGo to full article
Santa Barbara CA (SPX) Jan 13, 2015 - A team of chemistry and materials science experts from University of California, Santa Barbara and The Dow Chemical Company has created a novel way to overcome one of the major hurdles preventing the widespread use of controlled radical polymerization.

In a global polymer industry valued in the hundreds of billions of dollars, a technique called Atom Transfer Radical Polymerization is emerging as a key process for creating well-defined polymers for a vast range of materials, from adhesives to electronics. However, current ATRP methods by design use metal catalysts, a major roadblock to applications for which metal contamination is an issue, such as materials used for biomedical purposes.

This new method of radical polymerization doesn't involve heavy metal catalysts like copper. Their innovative, metal-free ATRP process uses an organic-based photocatalyst--and light as the stimulus for the highly controlled chemical reaction.

"The grand challenge in ATRP has been: how can we do this without any metals?" said Craig Hawker, Director of the Dow Materials Institute at UC Santa Barbara. "We looked toward developing an organic catalyst that is highly reducing in the excited state, and we found it in an easily prepared catalyst, phenothiazine."

"It's "drop-in" technology for industry," said Javier Read de Alaniz, principal investigator and professor of chemistry and biochemistry at UC Santa Barbara. "People are already used to the same starting materials for ATRP, but now we have the ability to do it without copper." Copper, even at trace levels, is a problem for microelectronics because it acts as a conductor, and for biological applications because of its toxicity to organisms and cells.

Read de Alaniz, Hawker, and postdoctoral research Brett Fors, now with Cornell University, led the study that was initially inspired by a photoreactive Iridium catalyst.

Their study was recently detailed in a paper titled "Metal-Free Atom Transfer Radical Polymerization," published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. The research was made possible by support from Dow, a research partner of the UCSB College of Engineering.

ATRP is already used widely across dozens of major industries, but the new metal-free rapid polymerization process "pushes controlled radical polymerization into new areas and new applications," according to Hawker. "Many processes in use today all start with ATRP. Now this method opens doors for a new class of organic-based photoredox catalysts."

Controlling radical polymerization processes is critical for the synthesis of functional block polymers. As a catalyst, phenothiazine builds block copolymers in a sequential manner, achieving high chain-end fidelity. This translates into a high degree of versatility in polymer structure, as well as an efficient process.

"Our process doesn't need heat. You can do this at room temperature with simple LED lights," said Hawker. "We've had success with a range of vinyl monomers, so this polymerization strategy is useful on many levels."

"The development of living radical processes, such as ATRP, is arguably one of the biggest things to happen in polymer chemistry in the past few decades," he added. "This new discovery will significantly further the whole field."

 

 

New light shed on electron spin flips

 
‎19 ‎January ‎2015, ‏‎06:15:08 PMGo to full article
Berlin, Germany (SPX) Jan 08, 2015 - Researchers from Berlin Joint EPR Lab at Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin and University of Washington derived a new set of equations that allows for calculating electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) transition probabilities with arbitrary alignment and polarization of the exciting electromagnetic radiation.

The validity of the equations could be demonstrated with a newly designed THz-EPR experiment at HZB's storage ring BESSY II. This progress is relevant for a broad community of EPR users and is published in Physical Review Letters on January 6. 2015 (DOI 10.1103/PhysRevLett.114.010801).

Electron spins are quantum objects with fascinating characteristics. They can be used as sensitive probes to explore material properties at the atomic level. Electron spins behave like tiny magnets that can be aligned parallel or anti parallel to an external magnetic field. Flips between these states may be induced by electromagnetic radiation matching the energy difference of the spin states.

The probability for an EPR induced spin flip critically depends on the orientation of the magnetic component of the electromagnetic radiation with respect to the external magnetic field. These probabilities can be calculated, however, up to now respective expressions have been available only for a very limited number of experimental settings.

Set of equations for unconventional geometries
Joscha Nehrkorn, Alexander Schnegg, Karsten Holldack (HZB) and Stefan Stoll (UW) now succeeded to lift this restriction and derive general expressions for the magnetic transition rates, which are valid for any excitation configuration. The expressions apply to arbitrary excitation geometry and work for linear and circular polarized as well as unpolarized radiation.

"We developed a general theory for EPR transition rates of anisotropic spins systems and implemented it in a freely available computer program. Thereby, EPR users can now interpret and predict experiments and extract highly desired information which was not accessible recently" explains Joscha Nehrkorn.

Tests have been successful
To test the new theoretical expressions, the authors employed the properties of a unique THz-EPR experiment at BESSY II. They aligned the spins of iron atoms incorporated in small organic molecules to a static magnetic field and excited them by linear polarized coherent synchrotron radiation in the THz range with varying orientations of the magnetic component of the THz radiation.

By comparing the polarization dependence of theoretical predicted and experimental EPR line intensities, they could verify the newly derived equations and determine the parities of ground and excited high spin iron states.

"This experiment is an excellent example how broad band THz radiation from a storage ring may be used for very high frequency EPR applications, these possibilities will be further boosted by BESSY VSR, the next generation of our storage ring," states Karsten Holldack scientist at the THz beam line.

Alexander Schnegg who coordinates the project within a priority program (SPP 1601) of the German Research Foundation (DFG) further outlines: "The achieved breakthrough in EPR methodology strongly improves the predictive power of EPR for applications in e.g. life sciences, spintronics or energy materials research and paves the way for future EPR experiments with novel excitation schemes. "

 

 

Will the Real Monster Black Hole Please Stand Up?

 
‎19 ‎January ‎2015, ‏‎06:15:08 PMGo to full article
Pasadena CA (JPL) Jan 09, 2015 - A new high-energy X-ray image from NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, has pinpointed the true monster of a galactic mashup. The image shows two colliding galaxies, collectively called Arp 299, located 134 million light-years away. Each of the galaxies has a supermassive black hole at its heart.

NuSTAR has revealed that the black hole located at the right of the pair is actively gorging on gas, while its partner is either dormant or hidden under gas and dust.

The findings are helping researchers understand how the merging of galaxies can trigger black holes to start feeding, an important step in the evolution of galaxies.

"When galaxies collide, gas is sloshed around and driven into their respective nuclei, fueling the growth of black holes and the formation of stars," said Andrew Ptak of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, lead author of a new study accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal. "We want to understand the mechanisms that trigger the black holes to turn on and start consuming the gas."

NuSTAR is the first telescope capable of pinpointing where high-energy X-rays are coming from in the tangled galaxies of Arp 299. Previous observations from other telescopes, including NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton, which detect lower-energy X-rays, had indicated the presence of active supermassive black holes in Arp 299.

However, it was not clear from those data alone if one or both of the black holes was feeding, or "accreting," a process in which a black hole bulks up in mass as its gravity drags gas onto it.

The new X-ray data from NuSTAR - overlaid on a visible-light image from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope - show that the black hole on the right is, in fact, the hungry one. As it feeds on gas, energetic processes close to the black hole heat electrons and protons to about hundreds of millions of degrees, creating a superhot plasma, or corona, that boosts the visible light up to high-energy X-rays.

Meanwhile, the black hole on the left either is "snoozing away," in what is referred to as a quiescent, or dormant state, or is buried in so much gas and dust that the high-energy X-rays can't escape.

"Odds are low that both black holes are on at the same time in a merging pair of galaxies," said Ann Hornschemeier, a co-author of the study who presented the results Thursday at the annual American Astronomical Society meeting in Seattle. "When the cores of the galaxies get closer, however, tidal forces slosh the gas and stars around vigorously, and, at that point, both black holes may turn on."

NuSTAR is ideally suited to study heavily obscured black holes such as those in Arp 299. High-energy X-rays can penetrate the thick gas, whereas lower-energy X-rays and light get blocked.

Ptak said, "Before now, we couldn't pinpoint the real monster in the merger."

 

 

Astronomers use vanishing neutron star to measure space-time warp

 
‎19 ‎January ‎2015, ‏‎06:15:08 PMGo to full article
Vancouver, Canada (SPX) Jan 09, 2015 - In an interstellar race against time, astronomers have measured the space-time warp in the gravity of a binary star and determined the mass of a neutron star--just before it vanished from view.

The international team, including University of British Columbia astronomer Ingrid Stairs, measured the masses of both stars in binary pulsar system J1906. The pulsar spins and emits a lighthouse-like beam of radio waves every 144 milliseconds. It orbits its companion star in a little under four hours.

"By precisely tracking the motion of the pulsar, we were able to measure the gravitational interaction between the two highly compact stars with extreme precision," says Stairs, professor of physics and astronomy at UBC.

"These two stars each weigh more than the Sun, but are still over 100 times closer together than the Earth is to the Sun. The resulting extreme gravity causes many remarkable effects."

According to general relativity, neutron stars wobble like a spinning top as they move through the gravitational well of a massive, nearby companion star. Orbit after orbit, the pulsar travels through a space-time that is curved, which impacts the star's spin axis.

"Through the effects of the immense mutual gravitational pull, the spin axis of the pulsar has now wobbled so much that the beams no longer hit Earth," explains Joeri van Leeuwen, an astrophysicist at the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy, and University of Amsterdam, who led the study.

"The pulsar is now all but invisible to even the largest telescopes on Earth. This is the first time such a young pulsar has disappeared through precession. Fortunately this cosmic spinning top is expected to wobble back into view, but it might take as long as 160 years."

The mass of only a handful of double neutron stars have ever been measured, with J1906 being the youngest. It is located about 25,000 light years from Earth. The results were published in the Astrophysical Journal and presented at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Seattle on January 8.

 

 

Planet-hunting satellite observes supermassive black hole

 
‎19 ‎January ‎2015, ‏‎06:15:08 PMGo to full article
Salt Lake City UT (SPX) Jan 07, 2015 - Step outside of your house tonight, look up towards the sky, focus your view between the constellations of Cygnus and Lyra, and then zoom in about 100 million light years.

That's the home of a galaxy known as KA 1858, which contains a black hole that BYU scientists observed with the help of NASA and other astrophysicists throughout the University of California system.

The study, which appears in the Astrophysical Journal, estimates that this black hole has a mass of approximately 8 million times the mass of our sun.

Originally, the NASA Kepler satellite's main mission is to hunt for earth-like planets in our own galaxy. In this study, however, researchers were able to combine data from the Kepler mission with ground-based data to observe black hole characteristics. Many of the ground-based observations were performed at BYU's West Mountain Observatory, the largest research observatory in Utah.

"It was a long project that involved lots of different observers, some of them around the world," said Professor Michael Joner, co-author of the study. "Using measurements that were done at BYU, we were able to determine that the mass of the central black hole for this galaxy was about 8 million times the mass of the sun - that's a really really massive object."

Astronomers are used to measuring light radiated by different type of objects, and black holes are very difficult to measure because they don't give off any radiant energy. For this reason, Joner and masters student Carla Carroll, who is also a co-author of the study, used a method known as reverberation mapping.

Reverberation mapping involves observing the light that is emitted as material spirals toward the black hole. At different distances from the center, the light interacts with nearby gases, which then re-emit that light.

These groups of light reach the ground-based telescope within a few days of each other. By analyzing this time difference and by measuring how fast the material is moving around the center of the galaxy, they were able to determine the mass of this central black hole.

According to Carroll, current techniques for this method require some of the largest, and quite overbooked, telescopes in the world. She and Joner are working on a way to use smaller telescopes that have the abilities to observe different active galaxies. This way, astrophysicists everywhere can have the ability to do this science using smaller and less costly telescopes.

"After lots of collaboration, we were both learning amazing things and coming up with new ideas and possibilities," Carroll said. "The best part of this project for me was learning about active galactic nuclei and supermassive black holes on a level I never could have in either undergraduate or graduate classroom settings."

Carroll is finishing up a similar project to the publication and will graduate in April 2015 with a Master of Science. She recently earned admission to the University of Heidelberg in Germany for a Ph.D. program in astrophysics.

 

 

Unusual Light Signal Hints at Distant Black Hole Merger

 
‎19 ‎January ‎2015, ‏‎06:15:08 PMGo to full article
Pasadena CA (JPL) Jan 08, 2015 - The central regions of many glittering galaxies, our own Milky Way included, harbor cores of impenetrable darkness - black holes with masses equivalent to millions, or even billions, of suns. What's more, these supermassive black holes and their host galaxies appear to develop together, or "co-evolve."

Theory predicts that as galaxies collide and merge, growing ever more massive, so too do their dark hearts.

Black holes by themselves are impossible to see, but their gravity can pull in surrounding gas to form a swirling band of glowing material called an accretion disk. When this process happens to a supermassive black hole, the result is a "quasar" - an extremely luminous object that outshines all of the stars in its host galaxy, visible from across the universe.

"Quasars are valuable probes of the evolution of galaxies and their central black holes," said S. George Djorgovski, professor of astronomy at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

"If we can systematically study a large population of quasars, we can discover rare and unusual phenomena that can help us better understand the overall picture of their evolution."

In the journal Nature, Djorgovski and his collaborators, including Daniel Stern of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, report on an unusual repeating light signal from a distant quasar that they say is most likely the result of two supermassive black holes in the final stages of a merger - something that is predicted from theory but which has never been observed before.

The findings could lead to a better understanding of black hole mergers and galaxy evolution, and also help shed light on a long-standing conundrum in astrophysics called the "final parsec problem." That refers to the failure of theoretical models to predict what the final stages of a black hole merger look like, or even how long the process might take.

"Until now, the only known examples of supermassive black holes on their way to a merger have been separated by tens or hundreds of thousands of light-years," said Stern.

"At such vast distances it would take many millions, or even billions, of years for a collision and merger to occur. In contrast, these black holes are at most a few hundredths of a light-year apart, and could merge in about a million years or less."

 

 

June 30 will be one second longer this year

 
‎15 ‎January ‎2015, ‏‎09:01:09 AMGo to full article
Paris (UPI) Jan 7, 2015 - The guardians of time have spoken, and this year June 30 will be one second longer. A so-called leap second will be added to the world's clock at the end of June.

The decision to plug in an additional second at the beginning of summer was announced this week by the Paris-based International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service (IERS), the organization tasked with maintaining global time.

News of the additional second was delivered via a memo addressed: "To authorities responsible for the measurement and distribution of time."

The reason for the extra second: the planet's rotation is slowing. The planet's clocks have had an extra second inserted, either at the end of December or June, 25 times since the practice first began in 1972. This year's leap second will be the 26th.

"They add an extra second to something called UTC (Coordinated Universal Time) in order to make sure the rate of UTC is the same as atomic time," Nick Stamatakos, the chief of Earth Orientation Parameters at the U.S. Naval Observatory, told The Telegraph.

That could be a problem for the long list of Internet-based companies, programs and services that modern society has come to rely on so heavily. In 2012, the last time a leap second was added, the inserted second threw off a variety of systems synched with UTC clocks. Mozilla, Reddit, Foursquare, Yelp, LinkedIn and StumbleUpon all crashed as a result of 2012's leap second.

Google was one of the few who avoided the glitch, having built in a preparedness technology called Leap Smear, which inserted milliseconds in their systems' clocks in anticipation of the full-second leap. It's expected more companies will employ similar measures as this year's leap second approaches.

 

 

New technology enables ultra-fast steering and shaping of light beams

 
‎15 ‎January ‎2015, ‏‎09:01:09 AMGo to full article
Bristol, UK (SPX) Jan 07, 2015 - A team of engineers has developed a new acousto-optic device that can shape and steer beams of light at speeds never before achieved. The new technology will enable better optical devices to be made, such as holographs that can move rapidly in real time.

The research led by Bruce Drinkwater, Professor of Ultrasonics at the University of Bristol and Dr Mike MacDonald at the University of Dundee is published in the journal, Optics Express.

The array consists of 64 tiny piezo-electric elements which act as high frequency loudspeakers. The complex sound field generated deflects and sculpts any light passing through the new device. As the sound field changes, so does the shape of the light beam.

Professor Drinkwater from the Department of Mechanical Engineering said: "This reconfigurability can happen extremely fast, limited only by the speed of the sound waves. The key advantage of this method is that it potentially offers very high refresh rates - millions of refreshes per second is now possible. This means that in the future laser beam-based devices will be able to be reconfigured much faster than is currently possible. Previously, the fastest achieved is a few thousand refreshes per second."

The advancement will enable reconfigurable lenses that can automatically compensate for aberrations allowing for improved microscopy and a new generation of optical tweezers that will make them more rapidly reconfigurable and so allow better shaped traps to be produced.

Dr Mike MacDonald, Head of the Biophotonics research group at the University of Dundee, explained: "What we have shown can be thought of as a form of optical holography where the hologram can be made in real time using sound. Previous attempts to do this have not had the level of sophistication that we have achieved in the control of our acoustic fields, which has given us much greater flexibility in the control we have over light with these devices.

"The device can potentially be addressed much more quickly than existing holographic devices, such as spatial light modulators, and will also allow for much higher laser powers to be used. This opens up applications such as beam shaping in laser processing of materials, or even fast and high power control of light beams for free space optical communications using orbital angular momentum to increase signal bandwidth, as shown recently by a demonstration in Vienna."

Professor Drinkwater added: "The number of applications of this new technology is vast. Optical devices are everywhere and are used for displays, communications as well as scientific instruments."

The capabilities of laser beam shaping and steering are crucial for many optical applications, such as optical manipulation and aberration correction in microscopy. Depending on specific requirements of each application, these capabilities are currently achieved using different methods which are based on establishing a certain level of control over the phase of the laser beam.

Deformable mirrors are used for aberration corrections in astronomy and spatial light modulators (SLMs) are the common choice in a wide range of applications such as holography, optical tweezers and microscopy.

 

 

Astronomer Detects Record-Breaking Black Hole Outburst

 
‎15 ‎January ‎2015, ‏‎09:01:09 AMGo to full article
Amherst MA (SPX) Jan 07, 2015 - Last September, after years of watching, a team of scientists led by Amherst College astronomy professor Daryl Haggard observed and recorded the largest-ever flare in X-rays from a supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way. The astronomical event, which was detected by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, puts the scientific community one step closer to understanding the nature and behavior of supermassive black holes.

Haggard and her colleagues discussed the flare today at a press conference during this year's meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Seattle.

Supermassive black holes are the largest of black holes, and all large galaxies have one. The one at the center of our galaxy, the Milky Way, is called Sagittarius A* (or, Sgr A*, as it is called), and scientists estimate that it contains about four and a half million times the mass of our Sun.

Scientists working with Chandra have observed Sgr A* repeatedly since the telescope was launched into space in 1999. Haggard and fellow astronomers were originally using Chandra to see if Sgr A* would consume parts of a cloud of gas, known as G2.

"Unfortunately, the G2 gas cloud didn't produce the fireworks we were hoping for when it got close to Sgr A*," she said. "However, nature often surprises us and we saw something else that was really exciting."

Haggard and her team detected an X-ray outburst last September that was 400 times brighter than the usual X-ray output from Sgr A*. This "megaflare" was nearly three times brighter than the previous record holder that was seen in early 2012. A second enormous X-ray flare, 200 times brighter than Sgr A* in its quiet state, was observed with Chandra on October 20, 2014.

Haggard and her team have two main ideas about what could be causing Sgr A* to erupt in this extreme way. One hypothesis is that the gravity of the supermassive black hole has torn apart a couple of asteroids that wandered too close. The debris from such a "tidal disruption" would become very hot and produce X-rays before disappearing forever across the black hole's point of no return (called the "event horizon").

"If an asteroid was torn apart, it would go around the black hole for a couple of hours - like water circling an open drain - before falling in," said colleague and co-principal investigator Fred Baganoff of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, MA. "That's just how long we saw the brightest X-ray flare last, so that is an intriguing clue for us to consider."

If that theory holds up, it means astronomers have found evidence for the largest asteroid ever to be torn apart by the Milky Way's black hole.

Another, different idea is that the magnetic field lines within the material flowing towards Sgr A* are packed incredibly tightly. If this were the case, these field lines would occasionally interconnect and reconfigure themselves. When this happens, their magnetic energy is converted into the energy of motion, heat and the acceleration of particles - which could produce a bright X-ray flare. Such magnetic flares are seen on the Sun, and the Sgr A* flares have a similar pattern of brightness levels to the solar events.

"At the moment, we can't distinguish between these two very different ideas," said Haggard. "It's exciting to identify tensions between models and to have a chance to resolve them with present and future observations."

In addition to the giant flares, Haggard and her team also collected more data on a magnetar - a neutron star with a strong magnetic field - located close to Sgr A*. This magnetar is undergoing a long X-ray outburst, and the Chandra data are allowing astronomers to better understand this unusual object.

As for the G2: Astronomers estimate that the gas cloud made its closest approach - still about 15 billion miles away from the edge of the black hole - in the spring of 2014. The researchers estimate the record breaking X-ray flares were produced about a hundred times closer to the black hole, making it very unlikely that the Chandra flares were associated with G2.

 

 

Chandra Detects Record-Breaking Outburst From Milky Way's Black Hole

 
‎11 ‎January ‎2015, ‏‎01:19:08 AMGo to full article
Boston MA (SPX) Jan 06, 2015 - Astronomers have observed the largest X-ray flare ever detected from the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy. This event, detected by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, raises questions about the behavior of this giant black hole and its surrounding environment.

The supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy, called Sagittarius A*, or Sgr A*, is estimated to contain about 4.5 million times the mass of our Sun.

Astronomers made the unexpected discovery while using Chandra to observe how Sgr A* would react to a nearby cloud of gas known as G2.

"Unfortunately, the G2 gas cloud didn't produce the fireworks we were hoping for when it got close to Sgr A*," said lead researcher Daryl Haggard of Amherst College in Massachusetts. "However, nature often surprises us and we saw something else that was really exciting."

On Sept. 14, 2013, Haggard and her team detected an X-ray flare from Sgr A* 400 times brighter than its usual, quiet state. This "megaflare" was nearly three times brighter than the previous brightest X-ray flare from Sgr A* in early 2012. After Sgr A* settled down, Chandra observed another enormous X-ray flare 200 times brighter than usual on Oct. 20, 2014.

Astronomers estimate that G2 was closest to the black hole in the spring of 2014, 15 billion miles away. The Chandra flare observed in September 2013 was about a hundred times closer to the black hole, making the event unlikely related to G2.

The researchers have two main theories about what caused Sgr A* to erupt in this extreme way. The first is that an asteroid came too close to the supermassive black hole and was torn apart by gravity. The debris from such a tidal disruption became very hot and produced X-rays before disappearing forever across the black hole's point of no return, or event horizon.

"If an asteroid was torn apart, it would go around the black hole for a couple of hours - like water circling an open drain - before falling in," said co-author Fred Baganoff of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts. "That's just how long we saw the brightest X-ray flare last, so that is an intriguing clue for us to consider."

If this theory holds up, it means astronomers may have found evidence for the largest asteroid to produce an observed X-ray flare after being torn apart by Sgr A*.

A second theory is that the magnetic field lines within the gas flowing towards Sgr A* could be tightly packed and become tangled. These field lines may occasionally reconfigure themselves and produce a bright outburst of X-rays. These types of magnetic flares are seen on the Sun, and the Sgr A* flares have similar patterns of intensity.

"The bottom line is the jury is still out on what's causing these giant flares from Sgr A*," said co-author Gabriele Ponti of the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Garching, Germany. "Such rare and extreme events give us a unique chance to use a mere trickle of infalling matter to understand the physics of one of the most bizarre objects in our galaxy."

In addition to the giant flares, the G2 observing campaign with Chandra also collected more data on a magnetar: a neutron star with a strong magnetic field, located close to Sgr A*. This magnetar is undergoing a long X-ray outburst, and the Chandra data are allowing astronomers to better understand this unusual object.

These results were presented at the 225th meeting of the American Astronomical Society being held in Seattle.

 

 

Acoustic levitation made simple

 
‎11 ‎January ‎2015, ‏‎01:19:08 AMGo to full article
Washington DC (SPX) Jan 06, 2015 - A team of researchers at the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil has developed a new levitation device that can hover a tiny object with more control than any instrument that has come before.

Featured on this week's cover of the journal Applied Physics Letters, from AIP Publishing, the device can levitate polystyrene particles by reflecting sound waves from a source above off a concave reflector below. Changing the orientation of the reflector allow the hovering particle to be moved around.

Other researchers have built similar devices in the past, but they always required a precise setup where the sound source and reflector were at fixed "resonant" distances.

This made controlling the levitating objects difficult. The new device shows that it is possible to build a "non-resonant" levitation device -- one that does not require a fixed separation distance between the source and the reflector.

This breakthrough may be an important step toward building larger devices that could be used to handle hazardous materials, chemically-sensitive materials like pharmaceuticals -- or to provide technology for a new generation of high-tech, gee-whiz children's toys.

"Modern factories have hundreds of robots to move parts from one place to another," said Marco Aurelio Brizzotti Andrade, who led the research. "Why not try to do the same without touching the parts to be transported?"

The device Andrade and his colleagues devised was only able to levitate light particles (they tested it polystyrene blobs about 3 mm across). "The next step is to improve the device to levitate heavier materials," he said.

How the Acoustic Levitation Device Works
In recent years, there has been significant progress in the manipulation of small particles by acoustic levitation methods, Andrade said.

In a typical setup, an upper cylinder will emit high-frequency sound waves that, when they hit the bottom, concave part of the device, are reflected back. The reflected waves interact with newly emitted waves, producing what are known as standing waves, which have minimum acoustic pressure points (or nodes), and if the acoustical pressure at these nodes is strong enough, it can counteract the force of gravity and allow an object to float.

The first successful acoustical levitators could successfully trap small particles in a fixed position, but new advances in the past year or so have allowed researchers not only to trap but also to transport particles through short distances in space.

These were sorely won victories, however. In every levitation device made to date, the distance between the sound emitter and the reflector had to be carefully calibrated to achieve resonance before any levitation could occur. This meant that the separation distance had to be equal to a multiple of the half-wavelength of the sound waves. If this separation distance were changed even slightly, the standing wave pattern would be destroyed and the levitation would be lost.

The new levitation device does not require such a precise separation before operation. In fact, the distance between the sound emitter and the reflector can be continually changed in mid-flight without affecting the levitation performance at all, Andrade said.

"Just turn the levitator on and it is ready," Andrade said.

"Particle manipulation by a non-resonant acoustic levitator" is authored by Marco A. B. Andrade, Nicolas Perez and Julio C. Adamowski. It appears in the journal Applied Physics Letters on Monday, January 5, 2015 (DOI: 10.1063/1.4905130).

 

 

XMM-Newton spots monster black hole hidden in tiny galaxy

 
‎28 ‎December ‎2014, ‏‎10:58:46 PMGo to full article
Paris (ESA) Dec 20, 2014 - First impressions can be deceptive - astronomers have used ESA's X-ray satellite XMM-Newton to find a massive black hole hungrily feeding within a tiny dwarf galaxy, despite there being no hint of this black hole from optical observations.

The galaxy, an irregular dwarf named J1329+3234, is one of the smallest galaxies yet to contain evidence of a massive black hole. Located over 200 million light-years away, the galaxy is similar in size to the Small Magellanic Cloud, one of our nearest neighbouring galaxies, and contains a few hundred million stars.

In 2013, an international team of astronomers was intrigued to discover infrared signatures of an accreting black hole within J1329+3234 when they studied it with the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE).

The same team has now investigated the galaxy further, using ESA's XMM-Newton to hunt for this black hole in X-rays - and found something very surprising.

"The X-ray emission from J1329+3234 is over 100 times stronger than expected for this galaxy," says Nathan Secrest of George Mason University in Virginia, USA, lead author of the new study published in The Astrophysical Journal. "We would typically expect to find low-level X-ray emission from stellar-mass black holes within the galaxy, but what we found instead was emission consistent with a very massive black hole."

The combined X-ray and infrared properties of this galaxy can only be explained by the presence of a massive black hole residing in J1329+3234, similar to the supermassive black holes found at the centres of much more massive galaxies.

While the exact mass of the black hole is not known, it must be at least 3000 times as massive as the Sun, although it is likely to be much more massive than that. If the black hole in J1329+3234 is similar to known low-mass supermassive black holes, then it has a mass of around 150 000 times that of the Sun.

A feeding black hole at the centre of a galaxy is known as an active galactic nucleus, or AGN. In the region surrounding the black hole, material from the galaxy emits intensely bright radiation as it swirls inwards towards the centre of the galaxy and is devoured by the black hole. AGNs powered by massive black holes are commonplace in large galaxies, but they appear to be rarer in galaxies without a central "bulge" of stars - dwarf galaxies being a key example.

"This is a really important discovery," says co-author Shobita Satyapal, also from George Mason University. "It's interesting enough that such a tiny galaxy has such a large black hole, but this also raises questions about how these black holes form in the first place."

Astronomers believe that the "seeds" of massive black holes formed very early on in the Universe, along with the first generation of stars. These seed black holes then grew into massive black holes via a string of galaxy mergers. As the galaxies merged, so did their central black holes.

The turbulent merging process would feed the accreting black holes with copious amounts of material while simultaneously building up large, bulge-dominated galaxies. However, with each successive merger information about the properties of the original black hole is lost, meaning that astronomers cannot determine the mass of the original seeds by looking at massive bulge-dominated galaxies - instead they probe their dwarf and bulgeless relatives, such as J1329+3234, for clues.

Finding a massive black hole within such a tiny bulgeless galaxy provides support for the theory that black holes may have grown very efficiently within the gaseous haloes of forming galaxies, originating in massive, collapsing clouds of primordial gas.

Along with J1329+3234, Secrest and his colleagues found several hundred other bulgeless galaxies from the WISE survey that also show intriguing infrared properties - many of which, like J1329+3234, display no evidence for AGNs in optical light.

"The idea that we could find an accreting black hole even in a galaxy with no optical evidence for one is exciting," notes Secrest. "Massive black holes and AGNs may be much more common within low mass and bulgeless galaxies than we currently think."

In recent years, growing numbers of massive black holes have been identified within dwarf and bulgeless galaxies. However, it is much harder to find them than it is to find their supermassive counterparts - they are less likely to show up in optical studies since they are often obscured by dust and are usually much dimmer, making them difficult to detect above surrounding light.

This emphasises the importance of multi-wavelength sky surveys, says ESA's XMM-Newton project scientist Norbert Schartel. "Using a mix of optical, infrared, and X-ray observations was vital here," he adds. "The sensitivity of XMM-Newton made it possible not only to discover this black hole but to also fully characterise its spectrum, meaning we can say with much more certainty that it's a black-hole-fuelled AGN."

 

 

'Perfect Storm' Quenching Star Formation around a Supermassive Black Hole

 
‎28 ‎December ‎2014, ‏‎10:58:46 PMGo to full article
Washington DC (SPX) Dec 18, 2014 - High-energy jets powered by supermassive black holes can blast away a galaxy's star-forming fuel, resulting in so-called "red and dead" galaxies: those brimming with ancient red stars yet containing little or no hydrogen gas to create new ones.

Now astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have discovered that black holes don't have to be nearly so powerful to shut down star formation. By observing the dust and gas at the center of NGC 1266, a nearby lenticular galaxy with a relatively modest central black hole, the astronomers have detected a "perfect storm" of turbulence that is squelching star formation in a region that would otherwise be an ideal star factory.

This turbulence is stirred up by jets from the galaxy's central black hole slamming into an incredibly dense envelope of gas. This dense region, which may be the result of a recent merger with another smaller galaxy, blocks nearly 98 percent of material propelled by the jets from escaping the galactic center.

"Like an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object, the particles in these jets meet so much resistance when they hit the surrounding dense gas that they are almost completely stopped in their tracks," said Katherine Alatalo, an astronomer with the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena and lead author on a paper published in the Astrophysical Journal.

This energetic collision produces powerful turbulence in the surrounding gas, disrupting the first critical stage of star formation.

"So what we see is the most intense suppression of star formation ever observed," noted Alatalo.

Previous observations of NGC 1266 revealed a broad outflow of gas from the galactic center traveling up to 400 kilometers per second. Alatalo and her colleagues estimate that this outflow is as forceful as the simultaneous supernova explosion of 10,000 stars. The jets, though powerful enough to stir the gas, are not powerful enough to give it the velocity it needs to escape from the system.

"Another way of looking at it is that the jets are injecting turbulence into the gas, preventing it from settling down, collapsing, and forming stars," said National Radio Astronomy Observatory astronomer and co-author Mark Lacy.

The region observed by ALMA contains about 400 million times the mass of our Sun in star-forming gas, which is 100 times more than is found in giant star-forming molecular clouds in our own Milky Way. Normally, gas this concentrated should be producing stars at a rate at least 50 times faster than the astronomers observe in this galaxy.

Previously, astronomers believed that only extremely powerful quasars and radio galaxies contained black holes that were powerful enough to serve as a star-forming "on/off" switch.

"The usual assumption in the past has been that the jets needed to be powerful enough to eject the gas from the galaxy completely in order to be effective at stopping start formation," said Lacy.

To make this discovery, the astronomers first pinpointed the location of the far-infrared light being emitted by the galaxy. Normally, this light is associated with star formation and enables astronomers to detect regions where new stars are forming.

In the case of NGC 1266, however, this light was coming from an extremely confined region at the center of the galaxy. "This very small area was almost too small for the infrared light to be coming from star formation," noted Alatalo.

With ALMA's exquisite sensitivity and resolution, and along with observations from CARMA (the Combined Array for Research in Millimeter-wave Astronomy), the astronomers were then able to trace the location of the very dense molecular gas at the galactic center. They found that the gas is surrounding this compact source of far-infrared light.

Under normal conditions, gas this dense would be forming stars at a very high rate. The dust embedded within this gas would then be heated by young stars and seen as a bright and extended source of infrared light. The small size and faintness of the infrared source in this galaxy suggests that NGC 1266 is instead choking on its own fuel, seemingly in defiance of the rules of star formation.

The astronomers also speculate that there is a feedback mechanism at work in this region. Eventually, the black hole will calm down and the turbulence will subside so star formation can begin anew. With this renewed star formation, however, comes greater motion in the dense gas, which then falls in on the black hole and reestablishes the jets, shutting down star formation once again.

NGC 1266 is located approximately 100 million light-years away in the constellation Eridanus. Leticular galaxies are spiral galaxies, like our own Milky Way, but they have little interstellar gas available to form new stars.

 

 

Fraud-proof credit cards possible with quantum physics

 
‎28 ‎December ‎2014, ‏‎10:58:46 PMGo to full article
Washington DC (SPX) Dec 16, 2014 - Credit card fraud and identify theft are serious problems for consumers and industries. Though corporations and individuals work to improve safeguards, it has become increasingly difficult to protect financial data and personal information from criminal activity. Fortunately, new insights into quantum physics may soon offer a solution.

As reported in The Optical Society's (OSA) new high-impact journal Optica, a team of researchers from the Netherlands has harnessed the power of quantum mechanics to create a fraud-proof method for authenticating a physical "key" that is virtually impossible to thwart.

This innovative security measure, known as Quantum-Secure Authentication, can confirm the identity of any person or object, including debit and credit cards, even if essential information (like the complete structure of the card) has been stolen. It uses the unique quantum properties of light to create a secure question-and-answer (Q&A) exchange that cannot be "spoofed" or copied.

The "Question-and-Answer" Security Game
Traditional magnetic-stripe-only cards are relatively simple to use but also simple to copy. Recently, banks have begun issuing so-called "smart cards" that include a microprocessor chip to authenticate, identify and enhance security. But regardless of how complex the code or how many layers of security, the problem remains that an attacker who obtains the information stored inside the card can copy or emulate it.

The new approach outlined in this paper avoids this risk entirely by using the peculiar quantum properties of photons that allow them to be in multiple locations at the same time to convey the authentication questions and answers. Though difficult to reconcile with our everyday experiences, this strange property of light can create a fraud-proof Q&A exchange, like those used to authorize credit card transactions.

"Single photons of light have very special properties that seem to defy normal behavior," said Pepijn Pinkse, a researcher from the University of Twente and lead author on the paper. "When properly harnessed, they can encode information in such a way that prevents attackers from determining what the information is."

The process works by transmitting a small, specific number of photons onto a specially prepared surface on a credit card and then observing the tell-tale pattern they make. Since -- in the quantum world -- a single photon can exist in multiple locations, it becomes possible to create a complex pattern with a few photons, or even just one.

Due to the quantum properties of light, any attempt by a hacker to observe the Q&A exchange would, as physicists say, collapse the quantum nature of the light and destroy the information being transmitted. This makes Quantum-Secure Authentication unbreakable regardless of any future developments in technology.

Making Cards Quantum Secure
To provide security in the real world, a credit card -- for example -- would be equipped with a paper-thin section of white paint containing millions of nanoparticles. Using a laser, individual photons of light are projected into the paint where they bounce around the nanoparticles like metal balls in a pinball machine until they escape back to the surface, creating the pattern used to authenticate the card.

If "normal" light is projected onto the area, an attacker could measure the entering pattern and return the correct response pattern. A bank would therefore not be able to see a difference between the real card and the counterfeit signal projected by the attacker.

However, if a bank sends a pattern of single "quantum" photons into the paint, the reflected pattern would appear to have more information - or points of light - than the number of photons projected. An attacker attempting to intercept the "question" would destroy the quantum properties of the light and capture only a fraction of the information needed to authenticate the transaction.

"It would be like dropping 10 bowling balls onto the ground and creating 200 separate impacts," said Pinkse. "It's impossible to know precisely what information was sent (what pattern was created on the floor) just by collecting the 10 bowling balls. If you tried to observe them falling, it would disrupt the entire system."

Quantum, But Not Difficult
According to Pinkse, this unique way of providing security is suitable for protecting government buildings, bank cards, credit cards, identification cards, and even cars. "The best thing about our method is that secrets aren't necessary. So they can't be filched either," he said.

Quantum-Secure Authentication could be employed in numerous situations relatively easily, since it uses simple and cheap technology -- such as lasers and projectors -- that is already available.

S. A. Goorden, M. Horstmann, A. P. Mosk, B. Skoric and P. W. H. Pinkse, "Quantum-Secure Authentication of a Physical Unclonable Key," Optica, 1, 6, 421-424 (2014)

 

 

Physicists explain puzzling particle collisions

 
‎28 ‎December ‎2014, ‏‎10:58:46 PMGo to full article
San Diego CA (SPX) Dec 16, 2014 - An anomaly spotted at the Large Hadron Collider has prompted scientists to reconsider a mathematical description of the underlying physics. By considering two forces that are distinct in everyday life but unified under extreme conditions like those within the collider and just after the birth of the universe, they have simplified one description of the interactions of elementary particles.

Their new version makes specific predictions about events that future experiments at the LHC and other colliders should observe and could help to reveal "new physics," particles or processes that have yet to be discovered.

Composite subatomic structures created by powerful collisions of protons have fallen apart in unexpected ways within a detector in the Large Hadron Collider called LHCb.

The 'b' in the detector's name stands for beauty, a designation for a kind of quark, one of the fundamental building blocks of matter. Pairs of quarks, a beauty quark plus another - any one of several different kinds - together make up a beauty meson.

Mesons are unstable, fleeting structures that quickly decay into elementary particles. One type of decay produces either an electron and a positron, or a muon and its anti-matter counterpart, an anti-muon.

The Standard Model of particle physics, a powerful mathematical model that has guided physicists to the discovery of the Higgs boson and other particles before it, predicts that the two outcomes will occur at equal rates.

But experiments using the LHCb detector see a skewed muon-to-electron decay ratio lower than expected by 25 percent. Anomalies of this kind point to "new physics," details of the fundamental forces of nature that remain to be worked out.

Benjamin Grinstein, professor of physics at the University of California, San Diego, with postdoctoral fellows Rodrigo Alonso De Pablo and Jorge Martin Camalich reconsidered the mathematics that underlie the prediction. They published a revision this week in the journal Physical Review Letters.

The Standard Model describes the particles and their interactions, which create the fundamental forces of nature including electromagnetism and the "weak force," which is responsible for radioactive decay.

In ordinary circumstances, the weak force and electromagnetism appear to be distinct, but under extraordinary conditions, such as the high energies produced by colliders or extreme condition of the cosmos moments after the Big Bang, they are thought to be unified, a notion called the electroweak theory.

"We noticed that the parameters people were using for experiments for low-mass particles like mesons were not incorporating constraints consistent with this extension -- these modifications to the Standard Model that account for additional interactions," Grinstein said. "When you do, you find surprisingly many restrictions. The thought was that at low energies you can forget about constraints from electroweak theory because you don't see them, but that's not true."

When the two forces are considered as one, some of the mathematical terms that describe the interactions, called parameters, are not allowed and can be discarded, Grinstein's group concluded. Others are related, and so can be collapsed into single parameters, greatly reducing the total number of parameters the model must consider.

"Usually a closer look leads to more detailed or complicated models. One of the nicest things about this project is that our assumptions remarkably simplified the study of the physics of these decays," Alonso said.

"We were able to pin down the new physics to explain the anomaly," Camalich said.

Their description is entirely consistent with the mathematics of the Standard Model. It is an add-on that accounts for small deviations in the expected behavior of low mass particles, such as the way beauty, strange and charm mesons decay.

Their simplified mathematical description makes specific predictions about what experimental physicists should observe. It constrains the spin, or helicity, of the elementary particles produced by certain interactions, for example.

These are extremely rare events; just one in 100 million beauty mesons decay in this way, though the collider produces billions. Only this one detector has seen the anomaly Grinstein's group considered.

Quantum field theory says that forces, or interactions, arise from the exchange of particles.

"This parametrization ignores the particle exchange. It's agnostic about that," Grinstein said. But it's a potential guide for discovering new elementary particles. "Once the exchange is well described, you can go back to ask what kind of particle must mediate it with some very specific requirements."

If additional particles exist, they have escaped notice thus far, perhaps because they are so massive that colliders haven't yet reached the energies needed to produce them.

Cosmology points to undiscovered physics as well with the existence of dark matter made of a substance unknown and dark energy accelerating the expansion of the universe with an unaccounted for force. Mysteries could convene if new particles turn out to be the stuff of dark matter.

"In physics, if you keep asking questions you get to the fundamentals, the basic interactions that can explain everything else," Alonso said.

 

 

Tag Heuer changes tune, now looking at smartwatches

 
‎28 ‎December ‎2014, ‏‎10:58:46 PMGo to full article
La Chaux-De-Fonds, Switzerland (AFP) Dec 16, 2014 - Barely a few months after dismissing Apple's smartwatch, the new chief executive of luxury Swiss watchmaker Tag Heuer conceded Tuesday that such a hi-tech gadget might after all have a place in his firm's line-up.

"Initially, we were all a bit reticent," Jean-Claude Biver told reporters in La Chaux-de-Fonds, the Swiss city at the centre of the watchmaking industry.

But he insisted that any new technology would not dilute the company's reputation for making luxury goods that last.

"We will only make smartwatches if we are the best, different and unique," he said.

Biver, an industry legend who leads the watch division of Tag Heuer's owners LVMH, was appointed to head the Swiss brand on an interim basis last week following the departure of Stephane Linder.

He refused to divulge what Tag Heuer was planning, but said it would divide its research and development department so that one side could focus on technological innovation.

Any smartwatch would have to be developed through a partnership, perhaps with a university or a specialist firm.

Company vice-president Guy Semon would not be drawn on whether such a project might include a deal with a big US technology groups such as Google or Intel.

"We're casting a wide net and looking at very big companies," said Semon, who was formerly head of Tag Heuer's research and development.

He added that he viewed smartwatches as a bigger challenge than the introduction of quartz watches in the 1970s, a development which plunged Swiss watchmaking into a major crisis.

Tag Heuer is already undergoing changes. In September, the company laid off 46 Swiss employees and another 49 had their contracts suspended because of sluggish sales.

The firm said it wanted to concentrate on its core business, scrapping products such as telephones and accessories, although maintaining its line of sunglasses.

When the Apple Watch was unveiled in September, Biver insisted it would have no impact on the high end of the watch industry.

"Luxury is eternal, it is perennial. It is not something that becomes worthless after five years," he had said.

 

 

Quantum physics just got less complicated

 
‎28 ‎December ‎2014, ‏‎10:58:45 PMGo to full article
Singapore (SPX) Dec 24, 2014 - Here's a nice surprise: quantum physics is less complicated than we thought. An international team of researchers has proved that two peculiar features of the quantum world previously considered distinct are different manifestations of the same thing. The result is published in Nature Communications.

Patrick Coles, Jedrzej Kaniewski, and Stephanie Wehner made the breakthrough while at the Centre for Quantum Technologies at the National University of Singapore. They found that 'wave-particle duality' is simply the quantum 'uncertainty principle' in disguise, reducing two mysteries to one.

"The connection between uncertainty and wave-particle duality comes out very naturally when you consider them as questions about what information you can gain about a system. Our result highlights the power of thinking about physics from the perspective of information," says Wehner, who is now an Associate Professor at QuTech at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands.

The discovery deepens our understanding of quantum physics and could prompt ideas for new applications of wave-particle duality.

Wave-particle duality is the idea that a quantum object can behave like a wave, but that the wave behaviour disappears if you try to locate the object. It's most simply seen in a double slit experiment, where single particles, electrons, say, are fired one by one at a screen containing two narrow slits.

The particles pile up behind the slits not in two heaps as classical objects would, but in a stripy pattern like you'd expect for waves interfering. At least this is what happens until you sneak a look at which slit a particle goes through - do that and the interference pattern vanishes.

The quantum uncertainty principle is the idea that it's impossible to know certain pairs of things about a quantum particle at once. For example, the more precisely you know the position of an atom, the less precisely you can know the speed with which it's moving.

It's a limit on the fundamental knowability of nature, not a statement on measurement skill. The new work shows that how much you can learn about the wave versus the particle behaviour of a system is constrained in exactly the same way.

Wave-particle duality and uncertainty have been fundamental concepts in quantum physics since the early 1900s. "We were guided by a gut feeling, and only a gut feeling, that there should be a connection," says Coles, who is now a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute for Quantum Computing in Waterloo, Canada.

It's possible to write equations that capture how much can be learned about pairs of properties that are affected by the uncertainty principle. Coles, Kaniewski and Wehner are experts in a form of such equations known as 'entropic uncertainty relations', and they discovered that all the maths previously used to describe wave-particle duality could be reformulated in terms of these relations.

"It was like we had discovered the 'Rosetta Stone' that connected two different languages," says Coles. "The literature on wave-particle duality was like hieroglyphics that we could now translate into our native tongue. We had several eureka moments when we finally understood what people had done," he says.

Because the entropic uncertainty relations used in their translation have also been used in proving the security of quantum cryptography - schemes for secure communication using quantum particles - the researchers suggest the work could help inspire new cryptography protocols.

In earlier papers, Wehner and collaborators found connections between the uncertainty principle and other physics, namely quantum 'non-locality' and the second law of thermodynamics. The tantalising next goal for the researchers is to think about how these pieces fit together and what bigger picture that paints of how nature is constructed.

 

 

Sunday night the longest since 1912, here's why

 
‎28 ‎December ‎2014, ‏‎10:58:45 PMGo to full article
Washington (UPI) Dec 21, 2014 - At 6:04 p.m. EST on Sunday, the sun will be appear directly overhead along the Tropic of Capricorn, at 23.5 degrees latitude, south of the Equator.

It's the winter solstice, marking the beginning of winter and the longest day of the year in the Southern Hemisphere and the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. Naturally, being the shortest day of the year, Sunday night will be the longest night of the year for the top half of planet Earth.

More than that, Sunday night will be longest in over a century. Scientists estimate that the Earth's rotation has slowed nearly every year since our planet first formed 4.5 billion years ago. While many thought that would mean tonight would be the longest night in history, it is actually only the longest since 1912, as the Earth has sped back up slightly in the decades since.

The slowdown is caused by a phenomenon known as tidal accelerations, whereby Earth's tidal bulge is pushed ahead by the planet's rotation. The bulge acts as a boost to the Moon, pushing its orbit slightly farther away, while the friction of the offset tidal bulge slows the rotation of the Earth. The effects are infinitesimal, but extremely precise atomic clocks have allowed scientists to confirm the slowdown.

That's the complicated part. As to why every December 21 or 22 is the shortest day and longest night of the year in the north and vise versa in the south -- that's easy. Because the Earth rotates along a tilted axis, the amount of sunlight different places on Earth receive over the course of a day changes as the Earth orbits around the sun. The roles of the two hemispheres are reversed during on June 20 or 21 during the summer solstice, when Northern Hemisphere residents enjoy their longest day of the year.

While the two solstices mark the longest and shortest days of the year, they rarely ever mark the warmest or coldest days or nights. For those north of the equator, the days will be continue to longer and longer for the next six months, but because the ocean is slower to heat up and cool down, it will be several more weeks before the ground and ocean reach equilibrium and the top half of the planet can begin to take advantage of the extra solar energy.

 

 

How electrons split: New evidence of exotic behaviors

 
‎28 ‎December ‎2014, ‏‎10:58:45 PMGo to full article
Lausanne, Switzerland (SPX) Dec 26, 2014 - Electrons may be seen as small magnets that also carry a negative electrical charge. On a fundamental level, these two properties are indivisible. However, in certain materials where the electrons are constrained in a quasi one-dimensional world, they appear to split into a magnet and an electrical charge, which can move freely and independently of each other.

A longstanding question has been whether or not similar phenomenon can happen in more than one dimension. A team lead by EPFL scientists now has uncovered new evidence showing that this can happen in quasi two-dimensional magnetic materials. Their work is published in Nature Physics.

A strange phenomenon occurs with electrons in materials that are so thin that they can be thought of as being one-dimensional, e.g. nanowires. Under certain conditions, the electrons in these materials can actually split into an electrical charge and a magnet, which are referred to as "fractional particles". An important but still unresolved question in fundamental particle physics is whether this phenomenon could arise and be observed in more dimensions, like two- or three-dimensional systems.

Henrik M. Ronnow and Bastien Dalla Piazza at EPFL and Martin Mourigal (recently appointed Assistant professor at Georgia Tech) have now led a study that provides both experimental and theoretical evidence showing that this exotic split of the electrons into fractional particles actually does take place in two dimensions.

The scientists combined state-of-the-art polarized neutron scattering technology with a novel theoretical framework, and tested a material that normally acts as an electrical insulator. Their data showed that the electrons magnetic moment can split into two halves and move almost independently in the material.

The existence of fractional particles in more than one dimension was proposed by Nobel laureate PW Anderson in 1987 when trying to develop a theory that could explain high-temperature superconductivity: the ability of some materials to conduct electricity with zero resistance at very low, yet technologically feasible, temperatures. This phenomenon remains one of the greatest mysteries and has been extensively researched in the most promising high-temperature superconductors, the copper-containing cuprates.

Under temperatures close to absolute zero, electrons bind together to form an exotic liquid that can flow with exactly no friction. While this was previously observed at near-absolute zero temperatures in other materials, this electron liquid can form in cuprates at much higher temperatures that can be reached using liquid nitrogen alone.

Consequently, there is currently an effort to find new materials displaying high-temperature superconductivity at room temperature. But understanding how it arises on a fundamental level has proven challenging, which limits the development of materials that can be used in applications. The advances brought by the EPFL scientists now bring support for the theory of superconductivity as postulated by Anderson.

"This work marks a new level of understanding in one of the most fundamental models in physics," says Henrik M. Ronnow. "It also lends new support for Anderson's theory of high-temperature superconductivity, which, despite twenty-five years of intense research, remains one of the greatest mysteries in the discovery of modern materials."

Dalla Piazza B, Mourigal M, Christensen NB, Nilsen GJ, Tregenna-Piggott P, Perring TG, Enderle M, McMorrow DF, Ivanov DA, Ronnow HM. Fractional excitations in the square lattice quantum antiferromagnet. Nature Physics 15 December 2014

 

 

Exact Solution to Model Big Bang and Quark Gluon Plasma

 
‎28 ‎December ‎2014, ‏‎10:58:45 PMGo to full article
Kent, OH (SPX) Dec 23, 2014 - Unlike in mathematics, it is rare to have exact solutions to physics problems. "When they do present themselves, they are an opportunity to test the approximation schemes (algorithms) that are used to make progress in modern physics," said Michael Strickland, Ph.D., associate professor of physics at Kent State University.

Strickland and four of his collaborators recently published an exact solution in the journal Physical Review Letters that applies to a wide array of physics contexts and will help researchers to better model galactic structure, supernova explosions and high-energy particle collisions, such as those studied at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland.

In these collisions, experimentalists create a short-lived high-temperature plasma of quarks and gluons called quark gluon plasma (QGP), much like what is believed to be the state of the universe milliseconds after the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago.

In their article, Strickland and co-authors Gabriel S. Denicol of McGill University, Ulrich Heinz and Mauricio Martinez of the Ohio State University, and Jorge Noronha of the University of Sao Paulo presented the first exact solution that describes a system that is expanding at relativistic velocities radially and longitudinally.

The equation that was solved was invented by Austrian physicist Ludwig Boltzmann in 1872 to model the dynamics of fluids and gases. This equation was ahead of its time since Boltzmann imagined that matter was atomic in nature and that the dynamics of the system could be understood solely by analyzing collisional processes between sets of particles.

"In the last decade, there has been a lot of work modeling the evolution of the quark gluon plasma using hydrodynamics in which the QGP is imagined to be fluidlike," Strickland said. "As it turns out, the equations of hydrodynamics can be obtained from the Boltzmann equation and, unlike the hydrodynamical equations, the Boltzmann equation is not limited to the case of a system that is in (or close to) thermal equilibrium.

"Both types of expansion occur in relativistic heavy ion collisions, and one must include both if one hopes to make a realistic description of the dynamics," Strickland continued. "The new exact solution has both types of expansion and can be used to tell us which hydrodynamical framework is the best."

The abstract for this article can be found here.

 

 

Choreography of an electron pair

 
‎28 ‎December ‎2014, ‏‎10:58:45 PMGo to full article
Heidelberg, Germany (SPX) Dec 19, 2014 - Physicists are continuously advancing the control they can exert over matter. A German-Spanish team working with researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg has now become the first to image the motion of the two electrons in a helium atom and even to control this electronic partner dance. The scientists are succeeding in this task with the aid of different laser pulses which they timed very accurately with respect to each other.

They employed a combination of visible flashes of light and extreme-ultraviolet pulses which lasted only a few hundred attoseconds. One attosecond corresponds to a billionth of a billionth of a second.

Physicists aim to specifically influence the motion of electron pairs because they want to revolutionise chemistry: If lasers can steer the paired bonding electrons in molecules, they could possibly produce substances which cannot be produced using conventional chemical means. Electrons are hard to get a hold of.

Physicists cannot determine their precise location in an atom, but they can narrow down the region where the charge carriers are most probably located. When electrons move, this brings about a change to the regions where the electrons have the highest probability of being located. In some electronic states - physicists call them superposition states - this motion manifests itself as a pulsing with a regular beat.

It is precisely this pulsing motion which scientists working with Thomas Pfeifer, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics, have recorded in a series of images of a helium atom.

They observed how the electron pair danced close to the atomic nucleus one moment and slightly moved away from it the next moment. The researchers were not satisfied with the role of mere observers, however, and also actively intervened in the electronic choreography. They laid down the rhythm of the electronic partner dance, so to speak.

"The motion of individual electrons in the atom has already been imaged quite often and even manipulated as well," says Christian Ott, lead author of the study. "We have now achieved it for a pair of electrons which were bound together for a short time."

When electrons are shifted, molecular bonds can be created
On the one hand, the study of an electron pair is useful for physicists who want to gain a better understanding of how atoms and molecules interact with light as this interaction usually involves two or more electrons.

It is useful for chemistry, on the other hand, if they are able to direct pairs of electrons, because the typical chemical bond consists of just such a pair; this means that chemists must always move at least two electrons when they want to create or break a molecular bond.

In order to choreograph and film electrons in a helium atom, the Heidelberg-based physicists sent two laser pulses through a cell with helium gas. It is not only the energy, i.e. the colour of the pulses, which is important here, but also their intensity and the interval between them. The researchers first move the electrons of the helium into the ultrafast pulsing state with the aid of an ultraviolet flash.

They succeed only because the duration of this pulse is shorter than one femtosecond (one-millionth part of a billionth of a second), however. This is how long the pair of electrons needs for one cycle of the pulsing motion in which the pair is initially closer to the nucleus, then moves away from it and then returns to the nucleus again.

The researchers then use a weak, visible laser pulse to determine where the electrons are dancing at that particular moment. And by varying the interval between the ultraviolet attosecond pulse and the visible one, they produce a movie of the electronic dance: "Although we do not directly image where the electrons are," explains Thomas Pfeifer, "the visible pulse provides us with the relative phase of the superposition state."

The phase describes the to and fro of an oscillation, and hence the rhythmic motion of the electron pair. In this case it tells the physicists at which point of their natural pas de deux around the helium atom the electrons are at a given moment.

The team in Heidelberg uses findings from previous research to determine the dance moves. From this existing knowledge they determine where the electrons are when they are not moving.

"With the information on the phase which we measured here and our prior knowledge we reconstruct where the electrons are at a given time," says Pfeifer. He and his colleagues' experimental results are in good agreement with state-of-the art theoretical simulations by their cooperators Luca Argenti and Fernando Martin at Universidad Autonoma de Madrid in Spain, confirming the validity of the experimental and computational methodology.

Intense visible laser pulses change the rhythm of the electronic dance
The Heidelberg-based physicists also rely on these simulations to confirm the second part of their experiments. The visible laser pulse here serves them not only as a camera but also as a pacemaker for the pulsing motion of the electrons.

For when they increase the intensity of the pulse, the points in time at which the electrons are close to the atomic nucleus or further away from it shift in time. The researchers also record in an image sequence how the rhythm and thus the choreography of the electronic dance changes.

Thomas Pfeifer and his colleagues have not yet been able to explain all the details which they observe in the experiments with intense laser pulses. They want to change this now with more comprehensive experiments on the effect of the pulses.

In future experiments they also want to follow the subsequent fate of the pair of electrons in great detail, for the electronic dance in the superposition state ends with one of the two partners being ejected from the atom, with the consequence that the atom is ionised.

These ionisations also play a role in many chemical reactions. A better understanding of such wild two-electron dances could thus tell chemists how a reaction can be steered into the desired direction and product channels. At this point, at the latest, attosecond physics would create new tools for chemistry as well.

 

 

Researchers use real data rather than theory to measure the cosmos

 
‎25 ‎December ‎2014, ‏‎11:38:42 PMGo to full article
London, UK (SPX) Dec 15, 2014 - For the first time researchers have measured large distances in the Universe using data, rather than calculations related to general relativity.

A research team from Imperial College London and the University of Barcelona has used data from astronomical surveys to measure a standard distance that is central to our understanding of the expansion of the universe.

Previously the size of this 'standard ruler' has only been predicted from theoretical models that rely on general relativity to explain gravity at large scales. The new study is the first to measure it using observed data. A standard ruler is an object which consistently has the same physical size so that a comparison of its actual size to its size in the sky will provide a measurement of its distance to earth.

"Our research suggests that current methods for measuring distance in the Universe are more complicated than they need to be," said Professor Alan Heavens from the Department of Physics, Imperial College London who led the study. "Traditionally in cosmology, general relativity plays a central role in most models and interpretations. We have demonstrated that current data are powerful enough to measure the geometry and expansion history of the Universe without relying on calculations relating to general relativity.

"We hope this more data-driven approach, combined with an ever increasing wealth of observational data, could provide more precise measurements that will be useful for future projects that are planning to answer major questions around the acceleration of the Universe and dark energy."

The standard ruler measured in the research is the baryon acoustic oscillation scale. This is a pattern of a specific length which is imprinted in the clustering of matter created by small variations in density in the very early Universe (about 400,000 years after the Big Bang). The length of this pattern, which is the same today as it was then, is the baryon acoustic oscillation scale.

The team calculated the length to be 143 Megaparsecs (nearly 480 million light years) which is similar to accepted predictions for this distance from models based on general relativity.

Published in Physical Review Letters, the findings of the research suggest it is possible to measure cosmological distances independently from models that rely on general relativity.

Einstein's theory of general relativity replaced Newton's law to become the accepted explanation of how gravity behaves at large scales. Many important astrophysics models are based on general relativity, including those dealing with the expansion of the Universe and black holes. However some unresolved issues surround general relativity.

These include its lack of reconciliation with the laws of quantum physics and the need for it to be extrapolated many orders of magnitude in scales in order to apply it in cosmological settings. No other physics law have been extrapolated that much without needing any adjustment, so its assumptions are still open to question.

Co-author of the study, Professor Raul Jimenez from the University of Barcelona said: "The uncertainties around general relativity have motivated us to develop methods to derive more direct measurements of the cosmos, rather than relying so heavily on inferences from models. For our study we only made some minimal theoretical assumptions such as the symmetry of the Universe and a smooth expansion history."

Co-author Professor Licia Verde from the University of Barcelona added: "There is a big difference between measuring distance and inferring its value indirectly. Usually in cosmology we can only do the latter and this is one of these rare and precious cases where we can directly measure distance.

Most statements in cosmology assume general relativity works and does so on extremely large scales, which means we are often extrapolating figures out of our comfort zone. So it is reassuring to discover that we can make strong and important statements without depending on general relativity and which match previous statements. It gives one confidence that the observations we have of the Universe, as strange and puzzling as they might be, are realistic and sound!"

The research used current data from astronomical surveys on the brightness of exploding stars (supernovae) and on the regular pattern in the clustering of matter (baryonic acoustic oscillations) to measure the size of this 'standard ruler'. The matter that created this standard ruler formed about 400,000 years after the Big Bang. This period was a time when the physics of the Universe was still relatively simple so the researchers did not need to consider more 'exotic' concepts such as dark energy in their measurements.

"In this study we have used measurements that are very clean," Professor Heavens explained, "And the theory that we do apply comes from a time relatively soon after the Big Bang when the physics was also clean. This means we have what we believe to be a precise method of measurement based on observations of the cosmos.

"Astrophysics is an incredibly active but changeable field and the support for the different models is liable to change. Even when models are abandoned, measurements of the cosmos will survive. If we can rely on direct measurements based on real observations rather than theoretical models then this is good news for cosmology and astrophysics."

Heavens A., Jimenez J., and Verde L. (2014) Standard rulers, candles and clocks from low-redshift Universe. Physical Review Letters, 2014. DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.113.241302. The paper is available here.

 

 

ESA and Omega: a watch for astronauts

 
‎21 ‎December ‎2014, ‏‎03:45:07 AMGo to full article
Paris (ESA) Dec 15, 2014 - Swiss watchmaker Omega has announced a new version of its historic space watch, tested and qualified with ESA's help and drawing on an invention of ESA astronaut Jean-Francois Clervoy.

Jean-Francois flew in space three times in the 1990s and began thinking how to improve the wristwatches he wore on his missions. ESA filed a patent based on his ideas for a timepiece that helps astronauts to track their mission events.

One of the new functions allows the wearer to set a date in the past or future down to the second and have the watch calculate how much time has elapsed or is left.

Other features useful for astronauts include flexible programming of multiple alarms with different ring tones.

The Omega company, with its strong links to spaceflight since the first Moon landings in the 1960s, was interested in improving its line of Speedmaster Professional watches, and called on ESA's patent for the new Speedmaster Skywalker X-33.

Testing the new watch
The Skywalker has passed rigorous testing at ESA's technical heart, ESTEC, in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, where many ESA satellites are put through their paces before launch.

The timepiece proved itself capable of surviving anything an astronaut might experience - and more. First, it displayed ruggedness by surviving ESTEC's shaker simulating the intense vibrations of a launch. Then it was spun in a centrifuge to reach seven times the gravity we feel on Earth, just like an astronaut might endure when returning to our planet.

The next step was to analyse its performance after sitting in a vacuum chamber with temperatures ranging from -45 C to +75 C, a far greater range than an astronaut would ever have to endure.

Finally, the watch was blasted with radiation in Sweden under supervision by France's ONERA/DESP aerospace centre to simulate space radiation. Each watch was inspected visually and its functions were reviewed before and after each test.

Ready for spaceflight
The Skywalker model is upgraded with new software loaded in an advanced quartz-based timekeeping unit with a more robust, redesigned case. A dual analogue and digital display provides quick access to multiple time references such as time zones or elapsed time for precise time logging.

President of Omega, Stephen Urquhart, said: "We are delighted that our friends at the European Space Agency have tested and qualified the Speedmaster Skywalker X-33 for all its piloted missions, which is a natural extension of our long relationship with NASA and its space programme.

"ESA's abilities and ambitions are extraordinary, as demonstrated by their recent high-profile successes with Rosetta and Philae, and we are proud that their name and endorsement grace the back of this iconic chronograph."

Jean-Francois Clervoy concludes: "I am excited and proud to see my invention implemented in a high-precision wristwatch.

"Having Omega in this partnership with ESA, based on our patent, will allow all ESA astronauts to benefit from its innovative functions."

This invention, owned and protected by ESA, is one of 135 available for commercialisation by non-space industry.

Note: ESA is an intergovernmental organisation and is not involved in the manufacturing or commercialisation of the Omega Skywalker X-33.

 

 

Scientists measure speedy electrons in silicon

 
‎21 ‎December ‎2014, ‏‎03:45:07 AMGo to full article
Berkeley CA (SPX) Dec 15, 2014 - The entire semiconductor industry, not to mention Silicon Valley, is built on the propensity of electrons in silicon to get kicked out of their atomic shells and become free. These mobile electrons are routed and switched though transistors, carrying the digital information that characterizes our age.

An international team of physicists and chemists based at the University of California, Berkeley, has for the first time taken snapshots of this ephemeral event using attosecond pulses of soft x-ray light lasting only a few billionths of a billionth of a second.

While earlier femtosecond lasers were unable to resolve the jump from the valence shell of the silicon atom across the band-gap into the conduction electron region, the new experiments now show that this transition takes less than 450 attoseconds.

"Though this excitation step is too fast for traditional experiments, our novel technique allowed us to record individual snapshots that can be composed into a 'movie' revealing the timing sequence of the process," explains Stephen Leone, UC Berkeley professor of chemistry and physics.

Leone, his UC Berkeley colleagues and collaborators from the Ludwig-Maximilians Universitat in Munich, Germany, the University of Tsukuba, Japan, and the Molecular Foundry at the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory report their achievement in the Dec. 12 issue of the journal Science.

Century-old discovery observed
Leone notes that more than a century has elapsed since the discovery that light can make certain materials conductive. The first movie of this transition follows the excitation of electrons across the band-gap in silicon with the help of attosecond extreme ultraviolet (XUV) spectroscopy, developed in the Attosecond Physics Laboratory run by Leone and Daniel Neumark, UC Berkeley professor of chemistry.

In semiconducting materials, electrons are initially localized around the individual atoms forming the crystal and thus cannot move or contribute to electrical currents. When light hits these materials or a voltage is applied, some of the electrons absorb energy and get excited into mobile states in which the electrons can move through the material. The localized electrons take a "quantum jump" into the conduction band, tunneling through the barrier that normally keeps them bound to atoms.

These mobile electrons make the semiconductor material conductive so that an applied voltage results in a flowing current. This behavior allows engineers to make silicon switches, known as transistors, which have become the basis of all digital electronics.

The researchers used attosecond XUV spectroscopy like an attosecond stop watch to follow the electron's transition. They exposed a silicon crystal to ultrashort flashes of visible light emitted by a laser source. The subsequent illumination with x-ray-pulses of only a few tens of attoseconds (10-18 seconds) in duration allowed the researchers to take snapshots of the evolution of the excitation process triggered by the laser pulses.

Unambiguous interpretation of the experimental data was facilitated by a series of supercomputer simulations carried out by researchers at the University of Tsukuba and the Molecular Foundry. The simulations modeled both the excitation process and the subsequent interaction of x-ray pulses with the silicon crystal.

Electron jump makes atoms rebound
The excitation of a semiconductor with light is traditionally conceived as a process involving two distinct events. First, the electrons absorb light and get excited. Afterwards, the lattice, composed of the individual atoms in the crystal, rearranges in response to this redistribution of electrons, turning part of the absorbed energy into heat carried by vibrational waves called phonons.

In analyzing their data, the team found clear indications that this hypothesis is true. They showed that initially, only the electrons react to the impinging light while the atomic lattice remains unaffected. Long after the excitation laser pulse has left the sample - some 60 femtoseconds later - they observed the onset of a collective movement of the atoms, that is, phonons. This is near the 64 femtosecond period of the fastest lattice vibrations.

Based on current theory, the researchers calculated that the lattice spacing rebounded about 6 picometers (10-12 meters) as a result of the electron jump, consistent with other estimates.

"These results represent a clean example of attosecond science applied to a complex and fundamentally important system," Neumark says.

The unprecedented temporal resolution of this attosecond technology will allow scientists to resolve extremely brief electronic processes in solids that to date seemed too fast to be approached experimentally, says Martin Schultze, who was a guest researcher in Leone's lab last year, visiting from the Ludwig-Maximilians Universitat Munchen.

This poses new challenges to the theory of light-matter interactions, including the excitation step, its timescale and the interpretation of experimental x-ray spectra.

"But here is also an advantage," Schultze adds. "With our ultrashort excitation and probing pulses, the atoms in the crystal can be considered frozen during the interaction. That eases the theoretical treatment a lot."

 

 

Secondary relaxation in metallic glasses: A key to glassy materials and glassy physics

 
‎21 ‎December ‎2014, ‏‎03:45:07 AMGo to full article
Beijing, China (SPX) Dec 09, 2014 - Humans have been experimenting with and utilizing glassy materials for more than ten millennia, dating back to about 12000 B.C. Although glassy materials are the oldest known artificial materials, new discoveries and novel applications continue to appear.

Yet understanding of glass is far from complete, and the nature of glass constitutes a longstanding puzzle in condensed mater physics.

In a new overview titled "The B-Relaxation in Metallic Glasses" and published in the Beijing-based National Science Review, co-authors Hai Bin Yu and and Konrad Samwer, based at the Physikalisches Institut of Gemany's Universitat Gottingen, and Wei Hua Wang and Hai Yang Bai of the Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Physics in Beijing, demonstrate that many outstanding issues of glassy physics and glassy materials are connected with one relaxation process - the so-called B relaxation or secondary relaxation.

Focusing on metallic glasses as model systems, they review the features and mechanisms of B relaxations, which are intrinsic and universal to supercooled liquids and glasses. To gain a more prefect understanding of the nature of B relaxations, they suggest, computer simulations are urgently needed.

These scientists likewise demonstrate the importance of metallic glasses in understanding many crucial unresolved issues in glassy physics and material sciences, including glass transition phenomena, mechanical properties, shear-banding dynamics and deformation mechanisms, diffusions and the breakdown of Stokes-Einstein relation, as well as crystallization and stability of glasses.

While outlining the scientific significance of each of these areas, the Chinese and German scientists suggest there are attractive prospects to incorporating these insights into the design of new glassy materials with extraordinary properties.

The new study likewise suggests that B relaxations in metallic glasses could play an increasingly important role in tailoring the properties of glassy materials for particular applications.

Glassy materials (alloys or polymers) with pronounced B relaxation peaks around room temperature could be ductile - a property very desired for mechanical applications. On the other hand, however, for amorphous medicines, which can be much better absorbed by humans, B relaxation should be suppressed or avoided as it can cause re-crystallization during storage.

 

 

Einstein documents digitization project complete

 
‎07 ‎December ‎2014, ‏‎03:12:33 AMGo to full article
Princeton, N.J. (UPI) Dec 5, 2014 - Anyone with a computer and an Internet connection can now explore more than 80,000 pages of documents left behind by the world's most famous physics genius, Albert Einstein.

The now-complete Digital Einstein project -- the online phase of the Einstein Papers project and a collaboration between Princeton University Press and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (to whom the scientist bequeathed his intellectual legacy) -- is nearly two decades in the making. Researchers began sorting through the physicist's letters, papers, postcards, notebooks and diaries in 1986.

The online documents correspond with a series of physical books, The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein, previously released by Princeton University Press. The more than 5,000 searchable online documents, available in German and English, cover Einstein's life through his 1921 Nobel prize in physics.

"We want to make everything accessible to a much wider audience than just the scholars, historians, physicists and philosophers," Diana Kormos-Buchwald, director of the Einstein Papers project, told The Guardian. "It's been a challenge to get all the material online, but I'm extremely thrilled that we have succeeded."

Additional documents will be uploaded over time as additional volumes are printed by Princeton.

"We've been working on it for a while, and we've been thinking about it for a long time," Kormos-Buchwald told Inside Higher Education. "Only now do we have a fantastic colleague like [Princeton University Press's] Kenneth Reed who could make it so that it could be standardized and authorized and correct."

 

 

 

 

 

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Why do scientists now believe we live in a 10-dimensional universe?

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Genetics Research Confirms Biblical Timeline

Exciting research from the summer of 2012 described DNA variation in the protein coding regions of the human genome linked to population growth. One of the investigation's conclusions was that the human genome began to rapidly diversify not more than 5,000 years ago.1,2 This observation closely agrees with a biblical timeline of post-flood human diversification. Yet another study, this one published in the journal Nature, accessed even more extensive data and unintentionally confirmed the recent human history described in Genesis.3

Differences in human DNA can be characterized across populations and ethnic groups using a variety of techniques. One of the most informative genetic technologies in this regard is the analysis of rare DNA variation in the protein coding regions of the genome. Variability in these regions is less frequent than the more numerous genetic differences that occur in the non-coding regulatory regions. Researchers can statistically combine this information with demographic data derived from population growth across the world to generate time scales related to human genetic diversification.4

What makes this type of research unique is that evolutionary scientists typically incorporate hypothetical deep time scales taken from the authority of paleontologists or other similar deep-time scenarios to calibrate models of genetic change over time. Demographics-based studies using observed world population dynamics do not rely on this bias and are therefore more accurate and realistic.

In a 2012 Science report, geneticists analyzed DNA sequences of 15,585 protein-coding gene regions in the human genome for 1,351 European Americans and 1,088 African Americans for rare DNA variation.1,2 This new study accessed rare coding variation in 15,336 genes from over 6,500 humans—almost three times the amount of data compared to the first study.3 A separate group of researchers performed the new study.

The Nature results convey a second spectacular confirmation of the amazingly biblical conclusions from the first study. These scientists confirmed that the human genome began to rapidly diversify not more than 5,000 years ago. In addition, they found significant levels of  variation to be associated with degradation of the human genome, not forward evolutionary progress. This fits closely with research performed by Cornell University geneticist John Sanford who demonstrated through biologically realistic population genetic modeling that genomes actually devolve over time in a process called genetic entropy.5

According to the Bible, the pre-flood world population was reduced to Noah's three sons and their wives, creating a genetic bottleneck from which all humans descended. Immediately following the global flood event, we would expect to see a rapid diversification continuing up to the present. According to Scripture, this began not more than 5,000 years ago. We would also expect the human genome to devolve or degrade as it accumulates irreversible genetic errors over time. Now, two secular research papers confirm these biblical predictions.

References

  1. Tomkins, J. 2012. Human DNA Variation Linked to Biblical Event Timeline. Creation Science Update. Posted on icr.org July 23, 2012, accessed December 31, 2012.
  2. Tennessen, J. et al. 2012. Evolution and Functional Impact of Rare Coding Variation from Deep Sequencing of Human Exomes. Science. 337 (6090): 64-69.
  3. Fu, W, et al. Analysis of 6,515 exomes reveals the recent origin of most human protein-coding variants. Nature. Published online before print, July 13, 2012.
  4. Keinan, A and A. Clark. 2012. Recent Explosive Human Population Growth Has Resulted in an Excess of Rare Genetic Variants. Science. 336 (6082): 740-743.
  5. Sanford, J. C. 2008. Genetic Entropy and the Mystery of the Genome, 3rd ed. Waterloo, NY: FMS Publications.

* Dr. Tomkins is a Research Associate and received his Ph.D. in Genetics from Clemson University.

 

 

Honey Bee Orphan Genes Sting Evolution

 
‎19 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎10:00:00 AMGo to full article

A key type of rogue genetic data called orphan genes has just been reported in honey bees. Orphan genes conflict with ideas about genome evolution, and they are directly linked with the evolutionary enigma of phenotypic novelty, unique traits specific to a single type of creature.

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Out of Babel--Not Africa

 
‎16 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎10:00:00 AMGo to full article

Newly published research combining genetic, language, and demographic data challenges the idea of a single lineage of languages and human populations evolving out of Africa. Instead, the data supports the idea that multiple people groups have independent origins—a condition one would predict if the confusion of languages at the Tower of Babel happened as described in the Bible.

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Big Bang Evidence Retracted

 
‎12 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎10:00:00 AMGo to full article

In March 2014, the BICEP2 radio astronomy team announced purported direct evidence of cosmic inflation, an important part of the modern Big Bang model for the universe’s creation. This announcement was front-page news all over the world. However, these scientists recently submitted a paper for publication that effectively retracts their breakthrough claim, acknowledging that their earlier results were spurious. They admitted their “evidence” was actually an artifact of dust within our own galaxy.

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Snakes Have Always Been Snakes

 
‎09 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎10:00:00 AMGo to full article

It's an old story. An animal or plant is discovered in sedimentary rocks by paleontologists and it pushes the organism's origin further back by many millions of years. This time snakes are the subject of a recent, unexpected discovery that pushes their first appearance back an additional 65 million years.

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A New Antibiotic?

 
‎05 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎10:00:00 AMGo to full article

Antibiotics serve as some of the most effective tools modern medicine has to offer. These amazing chemicals save many lives by targeting specific and essential processes in pathogenic bacteria—but antibiotics are losing their magic touch. Their failure to beat back new strains of antibiotic-resistant germs motivates researchers to design or discover new antibiotics. Scientists now reveal reasons why their new discovery brings hope to those hunting for better germ killers.

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The frilled shark . . . is still a shark

 
‎02 ‎February ‎2015, ‏‎10:00:00 AMGo to full article

On January 21, 2015 the news broke—an Australian fisherman hooked a "living fossil." Called the frilled (or frill) shark, this creature was thought to be 80 million years old. It looks mighty frightening, but is it truly "prehistoric" and somehow linked to shark evolution?

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Encore Presentation of Patterns of Evidence: Exodus

 
‎26 ‎January ‎2015, ‏‎10:00:00 AMGo to full article

The Exodus is one of the best-known narratives in the Bible. It details the Israelites' escape from Egypt after centuries of slavery, Moses' rise to leadership, the devastating plagues on Egypt, and the miraculous Red Sea crossing. Yet many archaeologists and historians insist there is no evidence that the biblical Exodus ever occurred. This debate is the subject of the award-winning documentary Patterns of Evidence: Exodus that has an encore presentation this Thursday.

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2014 Most Notable News: Evolutionary Icons Toppled

 
‎22 ‎January ‎2015, ‏‎10:00:00 AMGo to full article

The big-picture story of evolution tells that, over millions of years, natural processes produced millions of species from one or a few primitive progenitors. Did this really happen, or did God create separate distinct "kinds" of creatures about 6,000 years ago like Genesis 1 clearly describes?

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The Hubble 'Pillars of Creation' Revisited

 
‎19 ‎January ‎2015, ‏‎10:00:00 AMGo to full article

In 1995 the Hubble Telescope photographed spectacular columns of gas, illuminated by nearby stars, in a section of the Eagle Nebula. The enormous columns of gas in this famous photo have been nicknamed "pillars of creation" since secular scientists insist that new stars are being "born" within them.

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2014 Most Notable News: Recent Creation

 
‎15 ‎January ‎2015, ‏‎10:00:00 AMGo to full article

In the year 2014, at least a half dozen fascinating observations confirmed the recent creation of our world and universe. For example, researchers took a closer look at Saturn's moon Enceladus, finding that it has more than just the single known geyser spewing icy material into space—it has 101 active geysers.

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2014 Most Notable News: Creation Is a Hot Topic

 
‎12 ‎January ‎2015, ‏‎10:00:00 AMGo to full article

Every generation of believers must settle for itself the core questions of ultimate origins. Where did everything come from? Can God's account of beginnings in Genesis be trusted as actual history? The year 2014 illustrated that this generation is still interested in answers.

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2014 Most Notable News: Fossils Resemble Living Relatives

 
‎08 ‎January ‎2015, ‏‎10:00:00 AMGo to full article

Every year, a few fortunate paleontologists discover fossils that closely resemble living creatures, and 2014 was no exception. In fact, it was a banner year for finding modern-looking fossils in what secular scientist believe to be very old rocks.

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2014 Most Notable News: Big Bang Fizzle

 
‎05 ‎January ‎2015, ‏‎10:00:00 AMGo to full article

We might learn an important lesson from a bit of embarrassment Big Bang supporters suffered in 2014. In March, mainstream media outlets announced that the BICEP2 radio astronomy telescope team discovered indirect remains of the Big Bang's supposed inflationary period. Headlines identified their astronomical observations as "smoking gun" evidence for the Big Bang itself, but it didn't take long at all for this smoke to clear.

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Study: Comets Did Not Supply Earth's Water

 
‎29 ‎December ‎2014, ‏‎10:00:00 AMGo to full article

Slightly different versions of water's constituent elements, hydrogen and oxygen, are relatively common in the universe. But how did Earth's version of water get here? European Space Agency astronomers have been looking for clues using their Rosetta spacecraft to inspect Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

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Facts Bite into Bird Tooth Story

 
‎25 ‎December ‎2014, ‏‎10:00:00 AMGo to full article

Fossils clearly show that some birds used to have small teeth, but most birds today do not have teeth. When and how did this change happen? A new study in the journal Science makes a few unfounded conclusions.

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Birds Inspire Flight Sensor Inventions

 
‎22 ‎December ‎2014, ‏‎10:00:00 AMGo to full article

The Wright brothers studied wing structures of seabirds before building their first airplane, and the first helicopter is said to have been inspired by dragonfly flight. Today, inventors continue this tradition, focusing on bio-inspired flight sensors. A series of telling admissions in a recent summary of state-of-the-art research leave no doubt about the origins of flight-ready sensors.

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Amazing Ant Beetle Same Today as Yesterday

 
‎18 ‎December ‎2014, ‏‎10:00:00 AMGo to full article

If ancient history according to Scripture is true, then what should we expect to find in animal fossils? Surely excellent body designs would top the list, closely followed by a lack of "transitional forms." A newly discovered specialized beetle inside Indian amber provides another peek into the past and an opportunity to test these Bible-based expectations.

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Unlocking the Origins of Snake Venom

 
‎15 ‎December ‎2014, ‏‎10:00:00 AMGo to full article

The origin of snake venom has been a long-time mystery to both creationists and evolutionists. Interestingly, new research confirms that the same genes that encode snake venom proteins are active in many other tissues.

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How Different was 'Java' from 'Modern' Man?

 
‎11 ‎December ‎2014, ‏‎10:00:00 AMGo to full article

Interest in human origins persists generation after generation, and researchers continue to uncover and interpret clues. The latest set comes from a reinvestigation of clam shells dug up in the 1890s on the Indonesian island of Java. Someone skillfully drilled and engraved those shells. Who was it?

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550 Million Years of Non-Evolution?

 
‎08 ‎December ‎2014, ‏‎10:00:00 AMGo to full article

A strange, new, mushroom-shaped species discovered alive on the deep seafloor off the southeastern coast of Australia may be a record-breaking living fossil. It's not a jellyfish, sea squirt, or sponge. What is it?

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Ghost Lineage Spawns Evolution Ghost Story

 
‎04 ‎December ‎2014, ‏‎10:00:00 AMGo to full article

Fossils seem to tell amazing stories about ancient animal life, but close inspection reveals that these stories differ from each other not because of different fossils, but because of different interpretations. Do the remarkable circumstances surrounding a newly discovered fossil arthropod tell two stories or just one?

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Thanksgiving in Heaven

 
‎27 ‎November ‎2014, ‏‎10:00:00 AMGo to full article

"We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty, The One who is and who was and who is to come, because You have taken Your great power and reigned" (Revelation 11:16-17). This is the final reference in the Bible to the giving of thanks. It records a scene in heaven where the 24 elders, representing all redeemed believers, are thanking God that His primeval promise of restoration and victory is about to be fulfilled.

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Missing Link or Another Fish Story?

 
‎24 ‎November ‎2014, ‏‎10:00:00 AMGo to full article

Recently there has been some celebration from the Darwinian community regarding a fossil discovery that allegedly links terrestrial animals to their future aquatic relatives.

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Plants' Built-in Photosynthesis Accelerators

 
‎20 ‎November ‎2014, ‏‎10:00:00 AMGo to full article

Sunlight can change in a heartbeat. One second, a leaf could be under intense sun and may receive more light than it needs to build sugar molecules through a process called photosynthesis. But a few seconds later, a cloud may wander overhead and block the sun, starving the plant's photosynthetic machinery. A team of plant biologists recently discovered new mechanisms that help plants cope with these fast-changing light conditions.

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Trees Really Are 'Pleasant to the Sight'

 
‎17 ‎November ‎2014, ‏‎10:00:00 AMGo to full article

Genesis 2:9 records one of the Lord's original intentions for creating trees, saying, "Out of the ground the LORD God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food." A new study has quantified just how pleasant to the sight trees can be, inadvertently confirming the truthfulness of this ancient biblical passage.

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Saber-Toothed Deer Alive in Afghanistan

 
‎14 ‎November ‎2014, ‏‎10:00:00 AMGo to full article

Based on journal entries, a Danish survey team probably sighted musk deer while working in the remote regions of northeast Afghanistan in 1948, but that was the last official sighting—until now. A new survey team recorded the species still alive, but endangered. Seven similar species found throughout Asia eat vegetation, so why do they need tusks?

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Dino Tracks

 
‎11 ‎November ‎2014, ‏‎10:00:00 AMGo to full article

Dinosaur tracks are found on every continent—but how did they form?

 


See how the awesome event of a global flood offers an explanation to this confounding scientific riddle.

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Exocomets: Evidence of Recent Creation

 
‎07 ‎November ‎2014, ‏‎10:00:00 AMGo to full article

Astronomers recently detected evidence of possible comets orbiting a faraway star system named β Pictoris. They compared what they saw to what our solar system may have looked like billions of years ago when the earth and moon were supposedly forming out of a chaotic debris cloud. But details from their report easily refute this imagined "planetary-system formation," and instead illustrate how God recently and uniquely created space objects.

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Human Fairness: Innate or Evolved?

 
‎05 ‎November ‎2014, ‏‎10:00:00 AMGo to full article

How does it make you feel when you put forth just as much effort as the next guy, but he receives twice the reward? Unfair! But how did people acquire the sensibilities involved when assessing fairness? Certain animals recognize unequal rewards too, prompting researchers to try and unravel the origins of fairness.

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Pro-Evolution Pope

 
‎31 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:00:00 AMGo to full article

During an October 28 meeting of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences held in the Vatican, Pope Francis claimed that evolution and the Big Bang do not contradict the Bible. If the Pope says it's okay for Catholics to embrace naturalistic explanations, does that settle the controversy?

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Did God Make the Ebola Virus?

 
‎29 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:00:00 AMGo to full article

When this article was written, the number of West Africans who contract the deadly Ebola virus was doubling about every three and a half weeks, making it the worst outbreak of the disease since the first recorded occurrence in 1976. Where did this virus come from?

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Gamma-Ray Bursts Limit Life in Universe

 
‎27 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:00:00 AMGo to full article

What are the odds that life somehow self-generated? Many experiments have shown that the likelihood of just the right chemicals combining by chance to form even the simplest cell on Earth is so close to zero that some origin-of-life researchers have punted the possibility to some distant unknown planet. But a new study of gamma-ray burst frequency estimates has eliminated the possibility of life on other planets.

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Weather Channel Founder Blasts 'Climate Change'

 
‎24 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:00:00 AMGo to full article

John Coleman, co-founder of the Weather Channel, claims that politics is influencing the supposedly unbiased realm of science—particularly in the debate over climate change.

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Brain Bath: A Clever Design Solution

 
‎17 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:00:00 AMGo to full article

What makes sleep so mentally refreshing? University of Rochester neuroscientist Jeff Iliff addressed the crowd gathered at a September 2014 TEDMED event and explained his amazing new discoveries. The words he used perfectly match what one would expect while describing the works of an ingenious designer.

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Giant Clams Are Brilliant Algae Farmers

 
‎15 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:00:00 AMGo to full article

Giant clams living in the Pacific Ocean's shallow-water tropics display brilliant, iridescent colors. Why do they display such radiance? Researchers uncovered five high-tech specifications that show how these giant clams use specialized iridescent cells to farm colonies of algae.

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A Fuss Over Dust: Planck Satellite Fails to Confirm Big Bang 'Proof'

 
‎13 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:00:00 AMGo to full article

Planck satellite data confirm that the "smoking gun" Big Bang evidence is likely the result of something much more mundane: dust within our own galaxy.

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Throwing Darwin a Curve

 
‎10 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:00:00 AMGo to full article

Great pitchers make it look so easy, and “practice makes perfect,” but it helps that the brain power necessary for control, neurological connections, and muscular arrangements for the human arm are exceedingly better than any system that exists on the planet. Is throwing a ball really that complex?

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Were Intestines Designed for Bacteria?

 
‎08 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:00:00 AMGo to full article

Scientists purposefully made mice sick to test how the creatures’ intestines—and the microbes they harbor—would react. They discovered details behind a remarkable relationship that, when working well, keeps both parties healthy.

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Vital Function Found for Whale 'Leg' Bones

 
‎06 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:00:00 AMGo to full article

Few animal traits are trotted out as illustrations of evolution as often as the whale’s supposed vestigial hip bones. Recent research has uncovered new details about the critical function of these whale hips—details that undermine this key evolutionary argument and confirm divine design.

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Jurassic Squirrels?

 
‎03 ‎October ‎2014, ‏‎10:00:00 AMGo to full article

Jurassic mammals made headlines recently, as Chinese paleontologists described six tiny skeletons comprising three new species. The squirrel-like fossils break the long-held idea that most so-called "dinosaur-era" mammals resembled shrews. These newfound mammals look like they lived in trees—not underground like shrews. Do the new fossils help evolutionists clarify their story for the origin of mammals, or do they crank more twists into evolution's troubled saga?

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Australopith Child Gets an Academic Spanking

 
‎29 ‎September ‎2014, ‏‎10:00:00 AMGo to full article

A fossil group of alleged evolutionary human ancestors called australopithecines—all quite ape-like in their features—have traditionally been uncooperative as transitional forms. Now the famous Taung child, a supposed example of early transitional skull features, has been debunked.

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Cambrian Fossil Intensifies Evolutionary Conundrum

 
‎26 ‎September ‎2014, ‏‎10:00:00 AMGo to full article

New fossil finds further verify one of evolution's biggest problems: the Cambrian explosion. According to evolutionary reckoning, a massive explosion of new life supposedly spawned dozens of brand-new fully formed body plans about 530 million years ago. Details from a newly described Canadian fossil fish intensify this Cambrian conundrum.

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Genome Scrambling and Encryption Befuddles Evolution

 
‎24 ‎September ‎2014, ‏‎10:00:00 AMGo to full article

One-cell creatures called ciliates are expanding the concept of genome complexity at an exponential rate. Now a newly sequenced ciliate genome reveals unimaginable levels of programmed rearrangement combined with an ingenious system of encryption.

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Big Bang Fizzles under Lithium Test

 
‎22 ‎September ‎2014, ‏‎10:00:00 AMGo to full article

Secular astrophysicists often talk about “primordial nucleosynthesis” as though it were a proven historical event. In theory, it describes how certain conditions during an early Big Bang universe somehow cobbled together the first elements. But no historical evidence corroborates this primordial nucleosynthesis, an idea beset by a theoretical barrier called the “lithium problem.” Secular scientists recently put this problem to a practical test.

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Are We Evolving Stupidity?

 
‎19 ‎September ‎2014, ‏‎10:00:00 AMGo to full article

Social psychologists are tracking IQ scores and noticed a decline in the last decade after a steady rise since the 1950s. Some wonder if the recent downturn reflects genes that have been eroding all along. Are we evolving stupidity?

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Ten Evidences for Creation

 
‎17 ‎September ‎2014, ‏‎10:00:00 AMGo to full article

Get some fast facts on the evidences for creation science!

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Bible May Solve Colossal Ancient Iceberg Riddle

 
‎15 ‎September ‎2014, ‏‎10:00:00 AMGo to full article

Five seafloor scour troughs show tell-tale signs of having been gouged out by colossal icebergs. But none of today’s icebergs are nearly big enough to scour the seafloor at such a great depth.

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Dual-Gene Codes Defy Evolution...Again

 
‎12 ‎September ‎2014, ‏‎10:00:00 AMGo to full article

Discoveries of DNA sequences that contain different languages, each one with multiple purposes, are utterly defying evolutionary predictions. What was once hailed as redundant code is proving to be key in protein production.

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Ciliate Genome Reveals Mind-Bending Complexity

 
‎10 ‎September ‎2014, ‏‎10:00:00 AMGo to full article

Certain types of fungi can be parasitic to both plants and animals. Two new studies show that this has developed, in part, by a loss of genetic information—not a gain as predicted by evolution.

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New Giant Dinosaur from Argentina

 
‎08 ‎September ‎2014, ‏‎10:00:00 AMGo to full article

Scientists described a new and remarkable fossil skeleton of a giant titanosaur, a group that includes the largest creatures ever to have lived on land. Because this specimen is nearly 45 percent complete, it gives more details than any other fossil of its kind, as well as some details that confirm the biblical creation model.

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Fungal Parasitism Marked by Gene Loss, Not Gain

 
‎05 ‎September ‎2014, ‏‎10:00:00 AMGo to full article

Certain types of fungi can be parasitic to both plants and animals. Two new studies show that this has developed, in part, by a loss of genetic information—not a gain as predicted by evolution.

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Decoding Snake-Venom Origins

 
‎03 ‎September ‎2014, ‏‎10:00:00 AMGo to full article

The origin of snake venom has long been a mystery to both creationists and evolutionists. However, by stepping outside the standard research paradigm, scientists recently showed that snake venom proteins may have arisen from existing salivary proteins, supporting the idea that they arose post-Fall through modification of existing features.

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Darwin's Finches: Answers From Epigenetics

 
‎29 ‎August ‎2014, ‏‎10:00:00 AMGo to full article

Authentic speciation is a process whereby organisms diversify within the boundaries of their gene pools, and this can result in variants with specific ecological adaptability. While it was once thought that this process was strictly facilitated by DNA sequence variability, Darwin's classic example of speciation in finches now includes a surprisingly strong epigenetic component as well.

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Octopus Skin Inspires High-Tech Camouflage Fabric

 
‎27 ‎August ‎2014, ‏‎10:00:00 AMGo to full article

An octopus can change the color of its skin at will to mimic any kind of surrounding. It actively camouflages itself with astoundingly complicated biological machinery. Wouldn't it be great if, say, a soldier's uniform or an armored vehicle used similar technology?

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New Finds Reveal Fully-Human Neandertal

 
‎25 ‎August ‎2014, ‏‎10:00:00 AMGo to full article

The case for Neandertals as more primitive members of an evolutionary continuum that spans from apes to modern man continues to weaken. Genetic and archaeological finds are completely reshaping modern concepts of Neandertal men and women.

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There's More to the Story

 
‎22 ‎August ‎2014, ‏‎10:00:00 AMGo to full article

The Dallas Morning News recently reported that a group of Ph.D. scientists is swimming upstream against the scientific community. Instead of believing in millions of years of evolution, the team at the Institute for Creation Research dares to suggest that science confirms biblical creation's view of a world only thousands of years old. And there's more to the story.

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What Is 'Real Scientific Research'?

 
‎20 ‎August ‎2014, ‏‎10:00:00 AMGo to full article

A recent article in The Dallas Morning News and a follow-up NBC interview presented some history and touched on the tenets of the Institute for Creation Research. Both news reports sparked inquiries from readers and viewers. For example, some are now asking, "What defines credible scientific research?"

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DNA Was Created as a Reservoir for the Information of Life

 
‎18 ‎August ‎2014, ‏‎10:00:00 AMGo to full article

Secular scientists claimed in the 1970s that chimp genomes are 98% similar to humans, and it was apparently verified by more modern techniques. But that estimate actually used isolated segments of DNA that we already share with chimps—not the whole genomes. The latest comparison that included all of the two species’ DNA revealed a huge difference from the percentage scientists have been claiming for years.

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Transhumanism is an international intellectual and cultural movement supporting the use of science and technology to improve human mental and physical characteristics and capacities.

by Dr. Martin Erdmann


The human species can, if it wishes, transcend itself. We need a name for this new belief. Perhaps transhumanism will serve: man remaining man, but transcending himself, by realizing new possibilities of and for his human nature.
Julian Huxley
1st director of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (wrote nearly fifty years ago)
Transhumanism is a word that is beginning to bubble to the top of our prophetic studies and horizon. Simply described, transhumanism is an international intellectual and cultural movement supporting the use of science and technology to improve human mental and physical characteristics and capacities - in essence, to create a "posthuman" society.
This is not a passing fad. Transhumanist programs are sponsored in institutions such as Oxford, Standford, and Caltech. Sponsorships come from organizations such as Ford, Apple, Intel, Xerox, Sun Microsystems, and others. DARPA, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, a technical department within the U.S. Department of Defense is also involved in transhumanist projects.
This briefing pack contains 2 hours of teachings
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The Origins of Information: Exploring and Explaining Biological Information


 

In the 21st century, the information age has finally come to biology. We now know that biology at its root is comprised of information rich systems, such as the complex digital code encoded in DNA. Groundbreaking discoveries of the past decade are revealing the information bearing properties of biological systems.

Dr. Stephen C. Meyer, a Cambridge trained philosopher of science is examining and explaining the amazing depth of digital technology found in each and every living cell such as nested coding, digital processing, distributive retrieval and storage systems, and genomic operating systems.

Meyer is developing a more fundamental argument for intelligent design that is based not on a single feature like the bacterial flagellum, but rather on a pervasive feature of all living systems. Alongside matter and energy, Dr. Meyer shows that there is a third fundamental entity in the universe needed for life: information.

 

http://www.stephencmeyer.org/

Got Science? Genesis 1 and Evidence

 

 

 
DVD - R159.00
 

 

Many scientists say complex life just randomly happened.
Primordial soup + lightning strike = Bingo! Is there any shred of scientific evidence that life was CREATED as Genesis 1 claims? Dr. Stephen Meyer, author of SIGNATURE IN THE CELL, says not a shred. Rather, a ton. Learn good reasoning techniques here.
 
08 June 2012, 08:09:11 PM
 

Intelligent Design is not Creationism

 
08 June 2012, 08:09:11 PM | Robert CrowtherGo to full article

This article was originally published in the Daily Telegraph (UK) on January 29. Original Article In 2004, the distinguished philosopher Antony Flew of the University of Reading made worldwide news when he repudiated a lifelong commitment to atheism and affirmed the reality of some kind of a creator. Flew cited evidence of intelligent design in DNA and the arguments of "American [intelligent] design theorists" as important reasons for this shift. Since then, British readers have learnt about the theory of intelligent design (ID) mainly from media reports about United States court battles over the legality of teaching students about it. According to most reports, ID is a "faith-based" alternative to evolution based solely on religion. But is this accurate? As one of the architects of the theory, I know it isn't. Contrary to media reports, ID is not a religious-based idea, but an evidence-based scientific theory about life's origins. According to Darwinian biologists such as Oxford University's Richard Dawkins, living systems "give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose". But, for modern Darwinists, that appearance of design is illusory, because the purely undirected process of natural selection acting on random mutations is entirely sufficient to produce the intricate designed-like structures found in living organisms. By contrast, ID holds that there are tell-tale features of living systems and the universe that are best explained by a designing intelligence. The theory does not challenge the idea of evolution defined as change over time, or even common ancestry, but it disputes Darwin's idea that the cause of biological change is wholly blind and undirected. What signs of intelligence do design advocates see? In recent years, biologists have discovered an exquisite world of nanotechnology within living cells - complex circuits, sliding clamps, energy-generating turbines and miniature machines. For example, bacterial cells are propelled by rotary engines called flagellar motors that rotate at 100,000rpm. These engines look like they were designed by engineers, with many distinct mechanical parts (made of proteins), including rotors, stators, O-rings, bushings, U-joints and drive shafts. The biochemist Michael Behe points out that the flagellar motor depends on the co-ordinated function of 30 protein parts. Remove one of these proteins and the rotary motor doesn't work. The motor is, in Behe's words, "irreducibly complex". This creates a problem for the Darwinian mechanism. Natural selection preserves or "selects" functional advantages as they arise by random mutation. Yet the flagellar motor does not function unless all its 30 parts are present. Thus, natural selection can "select" the motor once it has arisen as a functioning whole, but it cannot produce the motor in a step-by-step Darwinian fashion. Natural selection purportedly builds complex systems from simpler structures by preserving a series of intermediates, each of which must perform some function. With the flagellar motor, most of the critical intermediate structures perform no function for selection to preserve. This leaves the origin of the flagellar motor unexplained by the mechanism - natural selection - that Darwin specifically proposed to replace the design hypothesis. Is there a better explanation? Based on our uniform experience, we know of only one type of cause that produces irreducibly complex systems: intelligence. Whenever we encounter complex systems - whether integrated circuits or internal combustion engines - and we know how they arose, invariably a designing intelligence played a role. Consider an even more fundamental argument for design. In 1953, when Watson and Crick elucidated the structure of the DNA molecule, they made a startling discovery. Strings of precisely sequenced chemicals called nucleotides in DNA store and transmit the assembly instructions - the information - in a four-character digital code for building the protein molecules the cell needs to survive. Crick then developed his "sequence hypothesis", in which the chemical bases in DNA function like letters in a written language or symbols in a computer code. As Dawkins has noted, "the machine code of the genes is uncannily computer-like". The informational features of the cell at least appear designed. Yet, to date, no theory of undirected chemical evolution has explained the origin of the digital information needed to build the first living cell. Why? There is simply too much information in the cell to be explained by chance alone. The information in DNA (and RNA) has also been shown to defy explanation by forces of chemical necessity. Saying otherwise would be like saying a headline arose as the result of chemical attraction between ink and paper. Clearly, something else is at work. DNA functions like a software program. We know from experience that software comes from programmers. We know that information - whether, say, in hieroglyph