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Monday, June 10, 2013

The Science Today: "Wibbly-Wobbly, Timey-Wimey Stuff"

Posted by on Mon, Jun 10, 2013 at 8:03 AM

Posted by science intern Madeline Reddington

Today, science takes one more crucial step towards Star Trek's transporter. Then it’s on to tracking down ivory smugglers, investigating the mysteries of life on Earth, and peeking below the ice of Antarctica.

Researchers at Niels Bohr Institute made a breakthrough in quantum teleportation
For years, physicists have been able to demonstrate what Einstein called “spooky action at a distance” by using quantum entanglement to teleport information from light to light at a quantum level. In 2006, researchers at Niels Bohr Institute successfully performed the teleportation between light and gas atoms. Now for the first time, they’ve teleported information between two separate clouds of gas atoms. And not just once, but reliably and repeatedly.

These experiments, which are an important step for quantum information research, use two glass containers filled with caesium gas atoms. The two glasses are enclosed in a magnetic field, and a laser is used to teleport information from one glass of gas to the other. The quantum information is based on the orientation of the gas atoms, which can point “up” or “down”—analogous to a computer’s binary code of ones and zeros. Potential future applications for this research could include teleporting information from Earth to satellites.

DNA testing at a UW lab is a powerful weapon against ivory smugglers
The Center for Conservation Biology at UW has been extracting and analyzing DNA from ivory seized from smugglers, and developing a map of the geographic origins of these tusks. Agents hope to use these findings to target poaching “hot spots,” so they can make efficient use of limited resources for protecting elephants.

Early life on Earth may have been activated by comets
Researchers say icy comets that crashed into the Earth millions of years ago could have brought with them organic molecules that were able to synthesize life-building materials upon impact. The study in question used computer models to analyse the effect of various angles and speeds of impact on a single simulated comet. They could have brought 22 trillion pounds of carbon-based materials to the young Earth every year.

NASA’s updated map of de-iced Antarctica helps predict its response to climate change
Created by the British Antarctic Survey, this map shows a virtually thawed continent, revealing valuable information like the thickness of the ice. But honestly, it’s also just cool to peel Antarctica’s wig back:


Comments (6) RSS

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dnt trust me 1
That shit is dope
there ain't no great white man hope :
the Void, the Mojo, the Space :
Rap Race No : Yes to RAT Race!!!
Posted by dnt trust me on June 10, 2013 at 8:22 AM · Report this
News reporting on quantum mechanics makes me wish I've never read up on it. Because the reporting is always nonsense.
Posted by Ben on June 10, 2013 at 8:26 AM · Report this
If we ever do get to see a bare Antarctic continent, we're going to be in a big, wet world of hurt.
Posted by Brooklyn Reader on June 10, 2013 at 10:41 AM · Report this
sirkowski 4
I really doubt we'll ever get Star Trek transporters. But this could be very useful to carry information.
Posted by sirkowski on June 10, 2013 at 11:07 AM · Report this
Will in Seattle 5
@4 DIRAC (named after a real person) theories are that information could be turned into objects. Which we can now print in 3D and even do certain tissues, but ... not quite what you're thinking of yet.
Posted by Will in Seattle on June 10, 2013 at 12:30 PM · Report this
@4: Not really, at least not from what little can be gleaned after passing through the press release/crummy science journalism filters. To the best of my knowledge, every one of these 'quantum teleportation breakthroughs' boils down to entangling two particles and moving them away from each other. Measure one of them, and then the other before light could travel the intervening distance, and have your PR guy type up a release about teleportation. But if you can't control what state the entangled particles end up in, you can't use it to communicate.

Try this thought experiment. You flip a coin. Without looking at the coin, you and a friend both take polaroid pictures of the coin, and put them in separate envelopes before they develop. You hop on a plane to Austranlia, your friend hops on a plane to Europe. You open your envelopes at the same time and lo and behold, they match! Somehow, your polaroid and your friend's polaroid must have communicated faster than light! Spooky action at a distance! Now we just need a way to force the 'transmitting' polaroid to be heads when we want heads, and tails when we want tails, but that's probably a pretty simple issue to work out. I'm sure it's only five or ten years away.
Posted by Ben on June 10, 2013 at 4:21 PM · Report this

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