Tag Archives: quantum mechanics

Opening a window on quantum gravity

Yale University has received a grant from the W. M. Keck Foundation to fund experiments that researchers hope will provide new insights into quantum gravity. Jack Harris, associate professor of physics, will lead a Yale team that aims to address a long-standing question in physics — how the classical behavior of macroscopic objects emerges from microscopic constituents that obey the laws of quantum mechanics. (more…)

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Can the wave function of an electron be divided and trapped?

Electrons are elementary particles — indivisible, unbreakable. But new research suggests the electron’s quantum state — the electron wave function — can be separated into many parts. That has some strange implications for the theory of quantum mechanics.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — New research by physicists from Brown University puts the profound strangeness of quantum mechanics in a nutshell — or, more accurately, in a helium bubble. (more…)

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Researchers bolster development of programmable quantum computers

University of Chicago researchers and their colleagues at University College London have performed a proof-of-concept experiment that will aid the future development of programmable quantum computers.

Many complex problems are difficult and slow to solve using conventional computers, and over the last several years, research has grown steadily toward developing quantum computation. In particular, optimization problems such as the “traveling salesman” problem, which calculates the shortest possible route needed to visit a set of towns, become intractable as the number of towns grows. (more…)

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Black holes do not exist as we thought they did

On January 24, the journal Nature published an article entitled “There are no black holes.” 1 It doesn’t take much to spark controversy in the world of physics…But what does this really mean? In a brief article published on arXiv, a scientific preprint server, Stephen Hawking proposed a theory of black holes that could reconcile the principles of general relativity and quantum physics.

To better understand Hawking’s remarks, Forum interviewed Robert Lamontagne, an astrophysicist at the Department of Physics, Université de Montréal, and Executive Director of the Observatoire du Mont-Mégantic.

What is a black hole? (more…)

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Quantum mechanics explains efficiency of photosynthesis

Light-gathering macromolecules in plant cells transfer energy by taking advantage of molecular vibrations whose physical descriptions have no equivalents in classical physics, according to the first unambiguous theoretical evidence of quantum effects in photosynthesis published today in the journal Nature Communications.

The majority of light-gathering macromolecules are composed of chromophores (responsible for the colour of molecules) attached to proteins, which carry out the first step of photosynthesis, capturing sunlight and transferring the associated energy highly efficiently. Previous experiments suggest that energy is transferred in a wave-like manner, exploiting quantum phenomena, but crucially, a non-classical explanation could not be conclusively proved as the phenomena identified could equally be described using classical physics. (more…)

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‘Spooky action’ builds a wormhole between ‘entangled’ particles

Quantum entanglement, a perplexing phenomenon of quantum mechanics that Albert Einstein once referred to as “spooky action at a distance,” could be even spookier than Einstein perceived.

Physicists at the University of Washington and Stony Brook University in New York believe the phenomenon might be intrinsically linked with wormholes, hypothetical features of space-time that in popular science fiction can provide a much-faster-than-light shortcut from one part of the universe to another. (more…)

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Berkeley Lab Researchers Use Metamaterials to Observe Giant Photonic Spin Hall Effect

Researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have once again demonstrated the incredible capabilities of metamaterials – artificial nanoconstructs whose optical properties arise from their physical structure rather than their chemical composition. Engineering a unique two-dimensional sheet of gold nanoantennas, the researchers were able to obtain the strongest signal yet of the photonic spin Hall effect, an optical phenomenon of quantum mechanics that could play a prominent role in the future of computing.

“With metamaterial, we were able to greatly enhance a naturally weak effect to the point where it was directly observable with simple detection techniques,” said Xiang Zhang,  a faculty scientist with Berkeley Lab’s Materials Sciences Division who led this research. “We also demonstrated that metamaterials not only allow us to control the propagation of light but also allows control of circular polarization. This could have profound consequences for information encoding and processing.” (more…)

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Reconcilable Differences: Study Uncovers the Common Ground of Scientific Opposites

Searching for common elements in seemingly incompatible scientific theories may lead to the discovery of new ones that revolutionize our understanding of the world.

Such is the idea behind a mathematical framework Princeton University researchers developed that strips away the differences between scientific laws and theories to reveal how the ideas are compatible. In a recent report in the journal Physical Review Letters, the authors explain how the mathematical model finds common ground between the famously at-odds physics equations that govern classical and quantum mechanics. (more…)

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