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  • News

    A new quantum engine packs more power than its standard counterparts

    For the first time, a quantum engine has outperformed its traditional equivalent, without any special tweaks to its environment.

    The device harnesses the weird physics of very small objects to produce more power than a standard, or classical, engine under the same conditions, scientists report in the March 22 Physical Review Letters.  

    “They’ve shown very convincingly that the...

    04/01/2019 - 07:00 Quantum Physics
  • News in Brief

    How a proton gets its spin is surprisingly complicated

    Like a quantum version of a whirling top, protons have angular momentum, known as spin. But the source of the subatomic particles’ spin has confounded physicists. Now scientists have confirmed that some of that spin comes from a frothing sea of particles known as quarks and their antimatter partners, antiquarks, found inside the proton. 

    Surprisingly, a less common type of antiquark...

    03/25/2019 - 07:00 Particle Physics, Quantum Physics
  • News

    LIGO will be getting a quantum upgrade

    WASHINGTON — Gravitational wave detectors are going quantum.

    A planned revamp of the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, LIGO, relies on finessing quantum techniques, LIGO scientists announced February 14. That $35 million upgrade could let scientists catch a gravitational wave every day, on average. LIGO’s current tally of 11 gravitational wave events could be...

    02/15/2019 - 14:54 Quantum Physics, Astronomy
  • News

    Photons reveal a weird effect called the quantum pigeonhole paradox

    Quantum pigeons don’t like to share.

    In keeping with a mathematical concept known as the pigeonhole principle, roosting pigeons have to cram together if there are more pigeons than spots available, with some birds sharing holes. But photons, or quantum particles of light, can violate that rule, according to an experiment reported in the Jan. 29 Proceedings of the National Academy of...

    02/13/2019 - 06:00 Quantum Physics, Numbers
  • Reviews & Previews

    ‘Beyond Weird’ and ‘What Is Real?’ try to make sense of quantum weirdness

    Quantum physics has earned a reputation as a realm of science beyond human comprehension. It describes a microworld of perplexing, paradoxical phenomena. Its equations imply a multiplicity of possible realities; an observation seems to select one of those possibilities for accessibility to human perception. The rest either disappear, remain hidden or weren’t really there to begin...

    01/06/2019 - 08:00 Quantum Physics, History of Science
  • News in Brief

    Physicists wrangled electrons into a quantum fractal

    Physicists have created an oddity known as a quantum fractal, a structure that could reveal new and strange types of electron behaviors.

    Fractals are patterns that repeat themselves on different length scales:  Zoom in and the structure looks the same as it does from afar. They’re common in the natural world. For instance, a cauliflower stalk looks like a miniature version of the full...

    11/12/2018 - 11:00 Quantum Physics, Condensed Matter
  • Feature

    Douglas Stanford probes the chaos inside black holes

    Douglas Stanford, 31Theoretical physicsInstitute for Advanced Study and Stanford University

    Douglas Stanford’s fascination with black holes had its origins in an unlikely place: a sailboat.

    Starting at age 10, Stanford spent five years sailing around the world with his parents and two sisters. Sailboats are “like a physics laboratory,” Stanford says. Keeping the boat on course...

    09/26/2018 - 08:26 Quantum Physics
  • News in Brief

    Rubidium atoms mimic the Eiffel Tower, a Möbius strip and other 3-D shapes

    A new experiment gives rubidium atoms a certain je ne sais quoi.

    Scientists arranged individual atoms of the element rubidium into a variety of 3-D shapes, including the Eiffel Tower. The team used a laser to trap atoms in the arrangements, performing a hologram-style technique to encode the complex positions. And moveable, laser-based “tweezers” (SN: 5/12/18, p. 24) shifted atoms that...

    09/05/2018 - 13:00 Quantum Physics
  • News

    Quantum computer simulates two types of bizarre materials

    Scientists have used a quantum computer to conduct large-scale simulations of two types of quantum materials. These studies involved about 2,000 quantum bits, or qubits — many more than the tens of qubits available in most quantum computers.

    The results, published in two recent studies in Science and Nature, provide a new realization of the vision of physicist Richard Feynman, who hoped...

    08/28/2018 - 11:00 Quantum Physics, Technology
  • News

    A new quantum device defies the concepts of ‘before’ and ‘after’

    One thing leads to another. It sounds obvious, but in the quantum realm, the saying doesn’t always ring true. A new quantum device can jumble up a sequence of two events so that they take place in both orders simultaneously, researchers report in a paper in press in Physical Review Letters.

    “In everyday life, we are used to thinking of events having a definite order,” says physicist...

    08/23/2018 - 07:00 Quantum Physics