The Puzzle Of Quantum Reality

Science Facebook Twitter Flipboard Email Enlarge this image Pasieka/Getty Images/Science Photo Library RF Pasieka/Getty Images/Science Photo Library RF There's a hole at the heart of quantum physics. It's a deep hole. Yet it's not a hole that prevents the theory from working. Quantum physics is, by any measure, astonishingly successful. It's the theory that underpins nearly all of modern technology, from the silicon chips buried in your phone to the LEDs in its screen, from the nuclear hearts of the most distant space probes to the lasers in the supermarket checkout scanner. It explains why the sun shines and how your eyes can see. Quantum physics works. Yet the hole remains: Despite the wild success of the theory, we don't really understand what it says about the world around us. The mathematics of the theory makes incredibly accurate predictions about the outcomes of experiments and natural phenomena. In order to do that so well, the theory must have captured some essential and profound truth about the nature of the world around us. Yet there's a great deal of disagreement over what the theory says about reality — or even whether it says anything at all about it. Even the simplest possible things become difficult to decipher in quantum physics. Say you want to describe the position of a single tiny object — the location of just one electron, the simplest subatomic particle we know of. There are three dimensions, so you might expect that you need three numbers to describe the electron's location. This is certainly true in everyday life: If you want to know where I am, you need to know my latitude, my longitude, and how high above the ground I am. But in quantum physics, it turns out three numbers isn't enough. Instead, you need an infinity of numbers, scattered across all of space, just to describe the position of a single electron. This infinite collection of numbers is called a "wave function," because these numbers Continue Reading

Quantum physics trick means we could send information twice as fast

Tech & Science Quantum Physics Information Security Our world is all about information, so perhaps it's no surprise that quantum physicists think about how they can manipulate their field to send information faster. And in a pair of recent papers, a team of quantum scientists have outlined a way to do just that—and in a way that no wannabe spy could ever listen in on. The gist of the technique feels a bit like the famous riddle in which two guards—one of whom always tells the truth and one of whom always lies—protect two doors, one of which hides a tiger. The trick is to always ask what the other guard would say: that way, it doesn't matter whether you've asked the truthful guard or the lying one, you have precisely one lie and one truth in the answer, so you can work backwards to avoid the tiger. The physicists' technique could mean information can travel twice as fast—with complete security. Leon Neal/Getty Images See all of the best photos of the week in these slideshows In the quantum communication scenario, it's not about truth and lies, it's about knowledge and uncertainty between two people. For simplicity, imagine the tiniest message possible, which includes either yes or no, no additional information. Each person knows what message they sent. Traditionally, each person would send their yes or no encoded in a particle of light and the other person would receive it based on how long light takes to bridge the distance between them: two people, two particles, twice the wait time. But here's where the new research speeds things up. Quantum physics means that the same particle can be—as one of the researchers told Live Science—essentially "in two places at the same time." Read more: Can Artificial Intelligence Help Scientists Unravel the Secrets of Colliding Black Holes? That nifty trick means two people can communicate with just one particle of light in which both people have encoded their Continue Reading

‘Girl With No Job’ stars canned after stories about controversial mother Pamela Geller, past tweets surface

close Video 'Girl With No Job' stars fired for controversial tweets Claudia, Jackie, Olivia and Margo Oshry, the millennial stars behind the online Oath talk show 'The Morning Breath' and Instagram sensation 'Girl With No Job' have been fired and they believe its because their mother, Pamela Geller, is a conservative pundit and Trump supporter. The millennial masterminds behind the online Oath talk show "The Morning Breath" and Instagram sensation "Girl With No Job" have been fired, and some are speculating it's because their mother is a conservative pundit, while others are citing the sisters' past anti-Obama tweets that have recently resurfaced. An item in the liberal Daily Beast on Wednesday claimed sisters Claudia, Jackie, Olivia and Margo Oshry went to "great lengths" to hide from their combined 3.3 million Instagram followers the fact that their mother is right-wing provocateur and Trump supporter Pamela Geller. "The Instagram-famous family have gone to great lengths to conceal the identity of their Islamophobic mother," the publication writes. "[Their mother is an] anti-Islam activist, hate-monger, and diehard Trump supporter." The article also unearthed some tweets from 2015 in which Claudia tweeted, "Listening to Obama talk about ISIS is like listening to me talk about quantum physics," and sister Jackie wrote, "Hi @POTUS, Can you reimburse me for all the cabs I’m taking bc your piece of s--- plan to defeat ISIS makes me scared to take the subway? [Thank you]." Political blogger Pamela Geller, American Freedom Defense Initiative's Houston-based founder, speaks during an interview in New York May 28, 2015.  (Reuters) An Oath rep issued the following statement to Fox News: "'The Morning Breath,' an Oath social media show, is being canceled immediately and we have launched an internal investigation and will take other appropriate steps based on the results of the investigation." Oath did not return Fox News' follow up Continue Reading

Pamela Geller Facts: Instagram’s ‘Girl With No Jobs’ Talks About Mother’s Islamophobia

Claudia Oshry and her sisters who became extremely popular for their Instagram meme accounts, including Girl With No Job, issued a statement Wednesday about their connection with Pamela Geller — the conservative blogger and anti-Islamist activist. The Oshry sisters had been distancing themselves from their controversial mother until now because of her political beliefs.  “We want to be clear to our audience and fans that our political and cultural beliefs are not anti-Muslim or anti-anyone. Our views are separate from our mother’s. Being raised by a single parent, we were taught to make our own choices based on our personal beliefs. We are inspired to think for ourselves and we do. We do not condone discrimination or racist beliefs of any kind,” Claudia told Page Six in an exclusive statement Wednesday.  Claudia runs the Instagram's Girl With No Job, which has received 2.8million followers, Jackie runs the Instagram Jackie O Problems with 94,00 followers, Margo runs Hung Over And Hungry with 102,000 followers, and their sister Olivia executive produces Claudia and Jackie's YouTube talk show, "The Morning Breath." Despite being photographed together several times and also talking about the importance of family, the Oshry sisters have maintained silence over their mother. “Family photos including their mother have been stripped from their Instagrams. All past references to her have been removed. The sisters post ‘family’ photos of the four of them, always without their mother,” the Daily Beast, which first revealed the connection between the Oshry sisters and Geller said. Geller, who is a far-right advocate and publisher of The Geller Report, was reportedly targeted for death in an ISIS-inspired plot after she planned a Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest in Texas in 2015. She has often been involved in fights with the MTA and other cities’ transit authorities over posters Continue Reading

Quantum speed limit may put brakes on quantum computers

(The Conversation is an independent and nonprofit source of news, analysis and commentary from academic experts.) Sebastian Deffner, University of Maryland, Baltimore County (THE CONVERSATION) Over the past five decades, standard computer processors have gotten increasingly faster. In recent years, however, the limits to that technology have become clear: Chip components can only get so small, and be packed only so closely together, before they overlap or short-circuit. If companies are to continue building ever-faster computers, something will need to change. One key hope for the future of increasingly fast computing is my own field, quantum physics. Quantum computers are expected to be much faster than anything the information age has developed so far. But my recent research has revealed that quantum computers will have limits of their own – and has suggested ways to figure out what those limits are. The limits of understanding To physicists, we humans live in what is called the “classical” world. Most people just call it “the world,” and have come to understand physics intuitively: Throwing a ball sends it up and then back down in a predictable arc, for instance. Even in more complex situations, people tend to have an unconscious understanding of how things work. Most people largely grasp that a car works by burning gasoline in an internal combustion engine (or extracting stored electricity from a battery), to produce energy that is transferred through gears and axles to turn tires, which push against the road to move the car forward. Under the laws of classical physics, there are theoretical limits to these processes. But they are unrealistically high: For instance, we know that a car can never go faster than the speed of light. And no matter how much fuel is on the planet, or how much roadway or how strong the construction methods, no car will get close to going even 10 percent of the speed of light. People never Continue Reading

How quantum physicists accidentally solved the most iconic Yahoo! Answers post of all time

A fundamental assumption we make about time is that it moves in only one direction—forward. We call this the “arrow of time.” In November, physicists revealed that it’s possible to reverse that arrow using quantum physics. But how did they do it?Let’s begin, as more stories ought to, with this iconic 2010 Yahoo! Answers post. Keep up with this story and more The idea that it's impossible to unbake a cake is a great example of how we view entropy as only able to move in one direction. You can mix those ingredients, no problem. But once you’ve done so, you can’t unmix them. The chaotic energy can only increase and move forward. Or so we believed.The physicists at the Federal University of ABC in Brazil demonstrated that a system can exist in which chaotic energy flows backwards. They showed a cold object heating up a hotter object, as PBS explained. It would be like the ingredients of the cake spontaneously separating and unbaking, a devastating blow to authors of many insistent comments on the Yahoo! Answers post. The physicists’ new system, as the MIT Technology Review reported, contains acetone, which is your standard nail polish remover, and chloroform. The chemical makeup of chloroform comprises one carbon atom, one hydrogen atom and three chlorine atoms—so, CHCl3.Physicists can manipulate the nuclear spins within that system using a technique known as nuclear magnetic resonance, according to the Technology Review. After aligning the nuclei within the carbon and hydrogen atoms with a strong magnetic field, and radio pulses flip one or both. This approach forces them to become entangled, which is quantum physics-speak for basically making them share the same existence. Then the physicists monitor the radio signals the nuclei emit to see how their quantum states evolve.Since the two nuclei are in what’s called “thermal contact,” the heat energy of each Continue Reading

‘Suddenly Royal’ review: TLC’s reality show about auto mechanic who believes he’s a king is sweetly human

TLC’s latest reality series feels refreshingly human and rather charming. Okay, it’s on TLC, so it still feels like the participants still have a few loose screws rattling around somewhere. Otherwise there’d be no show, would there, old chap? David “Drew” Howe is a 45-year-old auto mechanic from Maryland who discovered in 2007 that his ancestry goes back to the last titled king of the Isle of Man, a small British island, in the 14th century. So he claimed the monarchy for himself, by posting a notice in a British newspaper. When it went unchallenged, he declared himself the presumptive king. Seven years later, he and his wife Pam saved enough quid to make the trip to claim the throne. So they start out at the lower end of impoverished royalty, and David, in particular, has manners to match. His ability to “fit into” actual royalty about matches his ability to debate Stephen Hawkings on quantum physics. All that said, we like him. He has no delusions about who he is, other than maybe the king part, and he’s funny. When his 12-year-old daughter Grace says she’s nervous about the trip, he asks her deadpan if maybe she should just “get all likkered up.” Pam is funny, too, though she's a lot more Type A than David is, so she tries to consider all possible consequences of this adventure. That’s a wise approach, because their six-week “trial run” turns out to raise more questions than it answers. Just one caution: The pilot, at least, somehow doesn’t use The Who’s “Happy Jack,” which contains pop music’s most prominent reference to the Isle of Man. Continue Reading

Nobel Prize goes to French-American duo for quantum physics

STOCKHOLM — A French-American duo shared the 2012 Nobel Prize in physics Tuesday for inventing methods to observe the bizarre properties of the quantum world, research that has led to the construction of extremely precise clocks and helped scientists take the first steps toward building superfast computers. Serge Haroche of France and American David Wineland opened the door to new experiments in quantum physics by showing how to observe individual quantum particles while preserving their quantum properties. A quantum particle is one that is isolated from everything else. In this situation, an atom or electron or photon takes on strange properties. It can be in two places at once, for example. It behaves in some ways like a wave. But these properties are instantly changed when it interacts with something else, such as when somebody observes it. Working separately, the two scientists, both 68, developed "ingenious laboratory methods" that allowed them to manage and measure and control fragile quantum states, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said. "Their ground-breaking methods have enabled this field of research to take the very first steps towards building a new type of superfast computer based on quantum physics," the academy said. "The research has also led to the construction of extremely precise clocks that could become the future basis for a new standard of time." Christophe Lebedinsky/AP This 2009 photo shows French physician Serge Haroche, right, and his aide Igor Dotsenko in Paris. Haroche is a professor at the College de France and Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris. Wineland is a physicist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, or NIST, and the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colorado. The two researchers use opposite approaches to examine, control and count quantum particles, the academy said. Wineland traps ions — electrically charged atoms — and measures them with light, while Continue Reading

Columbia University will ‘review’ weird antics of quantum mechanics prof Emlyn Hughes, who stripped onstage

Columbia University is investigating the antics of a nutty professor who stripped down to his skivvies and delivered a bizarre lesson in quantum mechanics, the institution confirmed Tuesday. Columbia Assistant Vice President Robert Hornsby said administrators “are currently reviewing” Prof. Emlyn Hughes’ off-the-wall behavior during class Monday. Students were bombarded with projected images of the collapsing Twin Towers and Nazi Germany as Hughes stripped down to his underwear and rap music played. The whole incident was caught on camera and later posted on the student website Bwog. During the five minute display, two people dressed as Ninjas blind-folded two stuffed animals and then impaled one with a sword. After, Hughes explained to the class that they would have to “strip raw” and “erase all the garbage” from their brains to properly learn quantum mechanics. “I thought that the 9/11 thing was a little offensive,” said freshman Andrew Stoughton, who said his dad worked in the World Trade Center but was late to work Sept. 11. “I try to take it with a grain of salt, like, okay, it's a personal tragedy for people but it's also a historical event that needs to be contextualized,” Stoughton said. “Walking that line is tricky and I think he misstepped.” On the other hand, Stoughton said, “I was definitely paying a lot more attention than I usually do.” Freshman Jared Greene agreed that the lecture kept him “awake,” but thought the class “might have been in poor taste.” That said, the frosh thinks it’s “misguided” for the prof to get “flak for trying to make a lecture more interesting.” Freshman Mariam Gulaid said she was just confused. “I wasn't thinking about it in an offensive or non-offensive way,” she said. “I was trying to figure out what was going on. “And Continue Reading

Quantum physics prof Emlyn Hughes keeps his pants on at Columbia science class

Columbia’s nutty professor is up to his old tricks — minus the strip show. Prof. Emlyn Hughes took the podium Monday for the first time since his bizarre quantum mechanics lecture baffled students last week — and his love for the surreal remained unbowed. The class began with Hughes’ wife asking students to not record the talk — even coffee was prohibited, according to Columbia’s student-run BWOG. Then the show began. A woman in a ski mask turned on a video that played images of mushroom clouds — including those that leveled Hiroshima and Nagasaki — to the tune of Coolio's "Gangsta's Paradise.” Then Hughes walked onto the stage wearing black sunglasses and a black sweatshirt with his hood pulled up. He lectured on nuclear fission and nuclear proliferation. “I think he was making a point with the gangster music and the images of people blowing up nuclear bombs all over the world," said freshman Zach Hendrickson after the Frontiers of Science class concluded. The most bizarre moment occurred when two blonde women carrying laptops walked onto the stage mid-lecture, raised their hands, were ignored by Hughes, then left. The class didn’t approach the insanity of last week’s legendary lecture, which included images of the collapsing Twin Towers and Nazi Germany as Hughes stripped down to his underwear and rap music played. "Today was nothing compared to last time," said student Ben Lewinter, 19. "Last time was mad weird.” Hughes, who wouldn’t comment to a reporter after class, only referenced last week’s antics in passing during the class. “Of course I do lots of unwise things in lectures, and you have punished me for it (by talking to the press),” he said. “We’ll talk about that later. “You all made this the most famous class in America,” he added. Continue Reading