2011 Science News of the Year: Matter & Energy | Science News

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2011 Science News of the Year: Matter & Energy

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12:06pm, December 19, 2011

Baile Zhang and G. Barbastathis/SMART Centre

Quantum theory gets physical

Reality can be understood not only in terms of the flow of energy, but also in terms of the flow of information. So says a team of physicists with a new take on quantum theory (SN: 8/13/11, p. 12). This theory, which explains how matter behaves at the atomic scale, is built on abstract mathematical formulations that seem to defy common sense. But the new take begins with intuitive principles connected to the physical world.

At the idea’s core is a postulate called “purification.” In simplest terms, purification means that you can know everything there is to know about something even if you don’t know everything about its parts. Using this postulate and five axioms drawn from information theory, the researchers have derived the basic mathemati

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