Breaking the arrow

•December 2, 2017 • Leave a Comment

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“An international team of researchers has conducted an experiment that shows that the arrow of time is a relative concept, not an absolute one. In a paper uploaded to the arXiv server, the team describe their experiment and its outcome, and also explain why their findings do not violate the second law of thermodynamics.

The second law of thermodynamics says that entropy, or disorder, tends to increase over time, which is why everything in the world around us appears to unfold forward in time. But it also explains why hot tea grows cold rather than hot. In this new effort, the researchers found an exception to this rule that works in a way that doesn’t violate the rules of physics as they have been defined.”

Experiment shows that arrow of time is a relative concept, not an absolute one – Phys.org

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Going Big

•October 13, 2017 • 2 Comments

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“Quantum theory predicts that a vast number of atoms can be entangled and intertwined by a very strong quantum relationship, even in a macroscopic structure. Until now, however, experimental evidence has been mostly lacking, although recent advances have shown the entanglement of 2,900 atoms. Scientists at the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland, recently reengineered their data processing, demonstrating that 16 million atoms were entangled in a one-centimetre crystal. They have published their results in Nature Communications...”

A single photon reveals quantum entanglement of 16 million atoms – Phys.org

Pushing the limit

•September 5, 2017 • Leave a Comment

entanglement

“In a new study, physicists have mathematically proved that any theory that has a classical limit—meaning that it can describe our observations of the classical world by recovering classical theory under certain conditions—must contain entanglement. So despite the fact that entanglement goes against classical intuition, entanglement must be an inevitable feature of not only quantum theory but also any non-classical theory, even those that are yet to be developed.”

Entanglement is an inevitable feature of reality – Phys.org

Fermions – it’s complicated

•August 17, 2017 • Leave a Comment

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“Using transport measurements near the field-tuned quantum critical point of CeRhIn5 at 50 Tesla, the researchers observed a fluctuating nematic-like state. A nematic state is most well known in liquid crystals, wherein the molecules of the liquid are parallel but not arranged in a periodic array. Nematic-like states have been observed in transition metal systems near magnetic and superconducting phase transitions. The occurrence of this property points to nematicity’s correlation with unconventional superconductivity. The difference, however, of the new nematic state found in CeRhIn5 relative to other systems is that it can be easily rotated by the magnetic field direction.”

Superconductivity research reveals potential new state of matter – phys.org

Spontaneous Order

•July 31, 2017 • Leave a Comment

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“The paper strips away the nitty-gritty details of cells and biology and describes a simpler, simulated system of chemicals in which it is nonetheless possible for exceptional structure to spontaneously arise—the phenomenon that England sees as the driving force behind the origin of life. ‘That doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to acquire that structure,’ England explained. The dynamics of the system are too complicated and nonlinear to predict what will happen.

The simulation involved a soup of 25 chemicals that react with one another in myriad ways. Energy sources in the soup’s environment facilitate or ‘force’ some of these chemical reactions, just as sunlight triggers the production of ozone in the atmosphere and the chemical fuel ATP drives processes in the cell. Starting with random initial chemical concentrations, reaction rates and ‘forcing landscapes’—rules that dictate which reactions get a boost from outside forces and by how much—the simulated chemical reaction network evolves until it reaches its final, steady state, or ‘fixed point.'”

Controversial New Theory Suggests Life Wasn’t a Fluke of Biology: It Was Physics – Wired.com

“Testing 1-2-3… Is this thing on?”

•July 18, 2017 • Leave a Comment

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“The mystery has gripped the internet as speculation mounts about the potential for a discovery of alien life on the red dwarf star known as Ross 128—despite the best attempts of astronomers to put such rumors to rest.

‘In case you are wondering, the recurrent aliens hypothesis is at the bottom of many other better explanations,’ said a blog post by Abel Mendez, director of the Planetary Habitability Laboratory at the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo.

Something unusual first came to light in April and May, when the team was studying a series of small and relatively cool red dwarf, some of which are known to have planets circling them.

Ross 128 is not known to have planets, but ‘we realized that there were some very peculiar signals in the 10-minute dynamic spectrum that we obtained from Ross 128.’

The signals were observed May 13 at 0053 GMT, and ‘consisted of broadband quasi-periodic non-polarized pulses with very strong dispersion-like features,’ he wrote.

‘We believe that the signals are not local radio frequency interferences (RFI) since they are unique to Ross 128 and observations of other stars immediately before and after did not show anything similar.'”

Peculiar’ radio signals emerge from nearby star – Phys.org

Retrocausality Revisited

•July 5, 2017 • Leave a Comment

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“If retrocausality is a feature of the quantum world, then it would have vast implications for physicists’ understanding of the foundations of quantum theory. Perhaps the biggest significance is the implication for the Bell tests, showing that distant particles really cannot influence each other, but rather—as Einstein and others believed—that quantum theory is incomplete. If the new results are true, then retrocausality may be one of the missing pieces that makes quantum theory complete.

‘I think that different interpretations [of quantum theory] have different implications for how we might go about generalizing standard quantum theory,’ Leifer said. ‘This might be needed to construct the correct theory of quantum gravity, or even to resolve some issues in high-energy physics given that the unification of the other three forces is still up in the air in the light of LHC results. So I think that future theories built on the ideas of existing interpretations are where we might see a difference, but admittedly we are quite far from figuring out how this might work at present.

‘Speculatively, if there is retrocausality in the universe, then it might be the case that there are certain eras, perhaps near the big bang, in which there is not a definite arrow of causality. You might imagine that a signature of such an era might show up in cosmological data, such as the cosmic microwave background. However, this is very speculative, and I have no idea what signatures we might expect yet.'”

Physicists provide support for retrocausal quantum theory, in which the future influences the past – Phys.org