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Oct 4, 2015

Signals from empty space

Posted by in category: quantum physics

What are the properties of the vacuum, the absolute nothingness? So far, physicists have assumed that it is impossible to directly access the characteristics of the ground state of empty space. Now, a team of physicists led by Prof. Alfred Leitenstorfer at the University of Konstanz (Germany) has succeeded in doing just that. They demonstrated a first direct observation of the so-called vacuum fluctuations by using short light pulses while employing highly precise optical measurement techniques. The duration of their light pulses was ensured to be shorter than half a cycle of light in the spectral range investigated. According to quantum physics, these oscillations exist even in total darkness, when the intensity of light and radio waves completely disappears. These findings are of fundamental importance for the development of quantum physics and will be published in the journal Science; an advance online version has appeared on October 1, 2015.

The existence of vacuum fluctuations is already known from theory as it follows from Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, one of the main pillars of quantum physics. This principle dictates that electric and magnetic fields can never vanish simultaneously. As a consequence, even total darkness is filled with finite fluctuations of the electromagnetic field, representing the quantum ground state of light and radio waves. However, until now direct experimental proof of this basic phenomenon has been considered impossible. Instead, it is usually assumed that vacuum fluctuations are manifested in nature only indirectly. From spontaneous emission of light by excited atoms e.g. in a fluorescent tube to influences on the structure of the universe during the Big Bang: these are just some of the instances that highlight the ubiquitous role the concept of vacuum fluctuations plays in the modern physical description of the world.

An experimental setup to measure electric fields with extremely high temporal resolution and sensitivity has now made it possible to directly detect vacuum fluctuations, despite all contrary assumptions. World-leading optical technologies and ultrashort pulsed laser systems of extreme stability provide the know-how necessary for this study. The research team at the University of Konstanz developed these technologies in-house and also an exact description of the results based on quantum field theory. The temporal precision achieved in their experiment is in the femtosecond range — a millionth of a billionth of a second. The sensitivity is limited only by the principles of quantum physics. “This extreme precision has enabled us to see for the first time that we are continuously surrounded by the fields of electromagnetic vacuum fluctuations” sums up Alfred Leitenstorfer.

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Oct 4, 2015

Computer that could outlive the universe a step closer

Posted by in categories: computing, physics, space

The heat-death of the universe need not bring an end to the computing age. A strange device known as a time crystal can theoretically continue to work as a computer even after the universe cools. A new blueprint for such a time crystal brings its construction a step closer.

Ordinary crystals are three-dimensional objects whose atoms are arranged in regular, repeating patterns – just like table salt. They adopt this structure because it uses the lowest amount of energy possible to maintain.

Earlier this year, Frank Wilczek, a theoretical physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, speculated that a similar structure might repeat regularly in the fourth dimension – time.

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Oct 4, 2015

IBM Watson powered Robot

Posted by in category: robotics/AI

Oct 4, 2015

Does an ancient bacterium hold the key to eternal life?

Posted by in category: life extension

Injecting yourself with a bacterium that’s 3.5 million years old is either the dumbest thing a person could do, or it’s brilliant. But that is exactly what a Russian scientist has done, in a quest to see if Bacillus F has the answer to eternal life.

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Oct 4, 2015

WOW. This robot can learn like a human child

Posted by in category: robotics/AI

http://bloom.bg/1JyMYOg

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Oct 4, 2015

Illustris: The Supercomputer That’s Bringing The Universe To Life

Posted by in categories: cosmology, entertainment, supercomputing

Catalyst: Virtual Universe — The Illustris supercomputer has modelled vast swathes of the universe, allowing us to visualise incredible scenarios in outer space.

Go to the Journeyman Science playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLlGSlkijht5iXbPX7d_oTP47c9C3kArQ0

Continue reading “Illustris: The Supercomputer That’s Bringing The Universe To Life” »

Oct 4, 2015

Elon Musk and SolarCity unveil ‘world’s most efficient’ solar panel

Posted by in categories: Elon Musk, solar power, sustainability

SolarCity is ready to start mass-producing these more efficient panels.

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Oct 4, 2015

How Should We Prepare for the AI Revolution? Ray Kurzweil Responds in This Q&A [Video]

Posted by in categories: computing, Ray Kurzweil, robotics/AI

On the cusp of a far-reaching revolution thanks to the advances in artificial intelligence and computing, it’s easy to feel a bit…concerned. Well, maybe more than just a bit, especially if you consider societal attitudes about technology.

Truth is that the way we perceive the world around us is conditioned to a degree by the environment we grow up within. There’s also little doubt that certain cultures are more open and adaptive to technology than others. But one could argue that the potential enhancements that AI could usher in are so dramatically advanced that even the earliest adopters within Silicon Valley aren’t really prepared for what’s coming.

Continue reading “How Should We Prepare for the AI Revolution? Ray Kurzweil Responds in This Q&A [Video]” »

Oct 4, 2015

This new smart glove can turn sign language into text and speech

Posted by in categories: computing, electronics

Sign language has helped the hearing-impaired communicate for many centuries, way before it was formalised and officially recognised, but this long-standing language of gestures has now been given a 21st-century technological upgrade. Saudi designer and media artist Hadeel Ayoub has invented a smart glove that recognises hand movements and converts them into the relevant text.

Much like Google Translate can give anyone a basic grasp of a foreign language in an instant, this glove is designed to help sign language users make themselves understood by those who can’t usually interpret it.

Five flex sensors sit on the fingers, monitoring how they’re being manipulated, while an accelerometer integrated into the fabric of the glove figures out how the hand is being held and the direction in which it’s pointing. Through three successive prototypes, the glove has been made thinner, lighter, and faster, and the latest version includes a text-to-speech chip to vocalise the words as they’re signed.

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Oct 4, 2015

$0.55 per watt from SolarCity’s record-breaking new solar panel

Posted by in categories: solar power, sustainability

A new solar panel technology from SolarCity is the most efficient rooftop solar ever released. Can it finally push solar to mass adoption?

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