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Aug 1, 2016

Viewpoint: Liquid Light with a Whirl

Posted by in category: quantum physics

An elliptical light beam in a nonlinear optical medium pumped by “twisted light” can rotate like an electron around a magnetic field.

Magnetism and rotation have a lot in common. The effect of a magnetic field on a moving charge, the Lorentz force, is formally equivalent to the fictitious force felt by a moving mass in a rotating reference frame, the Coriolis force. For this reason, atomic quantum gases under rotation can be used as quantum simulators of exotic magnetic phenomena for electrons, such as the fractional quantum Hall effect. But there is no direct equivalent of magnetism for photons, which are massless and chargeless. Now, Niclas Westerberg and co-workers at Heriot-Watt University, UK, have shown how to make synthetic magnetic fields for light [1]. They developed a theory that predicts how a light beam in a nonlinear optical medium pumped by “twisted light” will rotate as it propagates, just as an electron will whirl around in a magnetic field. More than that, the light will expand as it goes, demonstrating fluid-like behavior.

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Aug 1, 2016

Oxide-confined leaky vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers for single-mode operation

Posted by in category: supercomputing

Lateral photonic integration of oxide-confined leaky vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers enables their application in data communications and sensing.

Vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs) that operate at 850nm and are based on oxide-confined apertures are widely used in optical interconnects in data centers, supercomputers, wireless backbone networks, and consumer applications.1 As the processor productivity in these applications increases, it is necessary to continuously improve performance and scale transmission speeds accordingly. In recent years, developers have produced a generation of devices capable of transmitting 40Gb/s at moderate current densities,2, 3 and they have recently demonstrated 54Gb/s non-return-to-zero transmission through 2.2km of multimode fiber.4 Now, 108Gb/s per wavelength transmission can be realized over 100–300m of multimode fiber through the use of advanced modulation formats: discrete multi-tone,5 multiCAP,6 and PAM4.

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Aug 1, 2016

Quantum Computers Don’t Make Sense. But This One Makes Music

Posted by in categories: computing, media & arts, quantum physics

D-Wave making music.

A composer seeks to eavesdrop on the illogic at the heart of computing’s next wave.

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Aug 1, 2016

Lab-on-a-Chip breakthrough aims to help physicians detect cancer and diseases at the nanoscale

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, computing, nanotechnology, particle physics


IBM scientists have developed a new lab-on-a-chip technology that can, for the first time, separate biological particles at the nanoscale and could help enable physicians to detect diseases such as cancer before symptoms appear.

As reported today in the journal Nature Nanotechnology (“Nanoscale Lateral Displacement Arrays for Separation of Exosomes and Colloids Down to 20nm”), the IBM team’s results show size-based separation of bioparticles down to 20 nanometers (nm) in diameter, a scale that gives access to important particles such as DNA, viruses and exosomes. Once separated, these particles can be analyzed by physicians to potentially reveal signs of disease even before patients experience any physical symptoms and when the outcome from treatment is most positive. Until now, the smallest bioparticle that could be separated by size with on-chip technologies was about 50 times or larger, for example, separation of circulating tumor cells from other biological components.

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Aug 1, 2016

Nano-Toothpaste And Nano-Mouthwash? Rat Study Suggests Maybe

Posted by in category: nanotechnology

Researchers find that nanoparticles show promise for fighting tooth plaque — in rats, at least.

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Aug 1, 2016

Your Dinner Is Ready To Be 3D Printed

Posted by in categories: 3D printing, food

Could we see a day when 3D Printers replace convection ovens and microwaves in the kitchen?

Over the last few decades, a new wave of science has been infused into the world of food in the form of molecular gastronomy. By definition, food preparation and cooking involve physical and chemical changes, and molecular gastronomy simply uses scientific principles to take food in new technical and even artistic directions.

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Aug 1, 2016

Is Earthly life premature from a cosmic perspective?

Posted by in categories: alien life, futurism

The universe is 13.8 billion years old, while our planet formed just 4.5 billion years ago. Some scientists think this time gap means that life on other planets could be billions of years older than ours. However, new theoretical work suggests that present-day life is actually premature from a cosmic perspective.

“If you ask, ‘When is life most likely to emerge?’ you might naively say, ‘Now,’” says lead author Avi Loeb of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. “But we find that the chance of life grows much higher in the distant future.”

Life as we know it first became possible about 30 million years after the Big Bang, when the first stars seeded the cosmos with the necessary elements like carbon and oxygen. Life will end 10 trillion years from now when the last stars fade away and die. Loeb and his colleagues considered the relative likelihood of life between those two boundaries.

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Aug 1, 2016

“Beyond the God Particle” –China to Trump CERN’s LHC: Twice the Size and Seven Times as Powerful

Posted by in category: particle physics

China is planning to build an enormous particle accelerator twice the size and seven times as powerful as CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, according to state media reports. According to China Daily, the new facility will be capable of producing millions of Higgs boson particles — a great deal more than the Large Hadron Collider which originally discovered the ‘God particle’ back in 2012.

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Aug 1, 2016

A Freaky Anti-Rubber Is Still Weirding Scientists Out

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, computing, transportation

Imagine you wake up one morning burning to make the great physicist Max Planck’s face out of copper. (Just go with it.) Sure, you could sculpt it, but there’s a better way. Cut a flat copper sheet into a half-oval, and take a triangle out of the center of its straight edge. Divide it into smaller triangles, bend the sheet so that the two sides of the big triangle touch—and violà! A sheet of flat copper triangles has morphed to match every nook and cranny of Planck’s face. No sculpting required.

If that sounds like magic … well, that’s understandable, because we left a few steps out. Computer scientist Keenan Crane from Carnegie Mellon University actually did this with real copper, and you can see a computer model of the final product at the top of this article. Making Planck’s face wasn’t the point, of course: When Crane cut the sheet into carefully-designed triangles, he brought it into a class of materials known as auxetics, whose curious and complex properties have excited researchers for decades. Someday, auxetics could improve highway shock absorbers, form more comfortable and versatile shoes, and line veins that thicken when expanding.

At least, that’s what the grant applications say. “People give a lot of lip service to how it’s gonna change the world, in terms of curing cancer,” says Crane. “But at this stage people are still trying to figure out just basic questions.” Auxetics all started with a 1987 Science paper by engineer and professor Roderic Lakes. He reported a new kind of polymer foam that contradicted common sense. It expanded in one direction when stretched in another, and contracted in one direction when squeezed in another.

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Aug 1, 2016

The Cosmic Threat We Should Be Talking About

Posted by in category: particle physics

The night sky, at least when you can see it, appears placid, serene and as inviting as a cold brew on a muggy afternoon.

Don’t be fooled. The real universe is a nasty mélange of stuff that’s mostly scorching hot or bitterly cold. The blackness of space is shot through with lethal particles and radiation. Without doubt, the “final frontier,” often depicted as a beguiling playground for our Spandex-attired descendants, is deceptively treacherous.

Not only that, it’s out to get you.

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