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Matter & Energy

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cesium atoms

MAMMOTH MOLECULES  Pairs of cesium atoms (illustrated) can be bonded together into molecules the size of bacteria, like the E. coli shown here for scale. The outermost electron in each atom has been boosted to high energy, creating a state known as a Rydberg atom (indicated by asterisks).

quantum lock

SECRET SAVER   Sending an encrypted message usually requires a secret key that’s at least as long as the message itself. But thanks to the laws of quantum mechanics, it’s possible to protect long secret messages with much shorter keys, a new experiment shows.

blue whirls

BLUE WHIRL  A swirling flame called a blue whirl is produced in the lab by igniting fuel floating on top of water (left). The flame first transitions into a 60-centimeter-tall fire tornado (center) before settling down into a quietly spinning blue flame (right) just 6 centimeters in height.

Matter & Energy

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