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Archive for the ‘particle physics’ category: Page 7

Mar 20, 2019

Robotic ‘gray goo’

Posted by in categories: engineering, particle physics, robotics/AI

Up until now, the ability to make gray goo has been theoretical. However, the scientists at the Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Science have made a significant breakthrough. The individual components are computationally simple but can exhibit complex behavior.


Current robots are usually self-contained entities made of interdependent subcomponents, each with a specific function. If one part fails, the robot stops working. In robotic swarms, each robot is an independently functioning machine.

In a new study published today in Nature, researchers at Columbia Engineering and MIT Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL), demonstrate for the first time a way to make a robot composed of many loosely coupled components, or “particles.” Unlike swarm or modular robots, each component is simple, and has no individual address or identity. In their system, which the researchers call a “particle robot,” each particle can perform only uniform volumetric oscillations (slightly expanding and contracting), but cannot move independently.

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Mar 20, 2019

We did a breakthrough ‘speed test’ in quantum tunnelling, and here’s why that’s exciting

Posted by in categories: particle physics, quantum physics

Things get weird at the quantum level and now we know they can happen really fast when a particle pushes through an almost insurmountable barrier.

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Mar 20, 2019

For The First Time, Physicists Have Clocked The Ghostly Speed of Quantum Tunnelling

Posted by in categories: particle physics, quantum physics

In quantum physics, particles can ’tunnel’ through seemingly impenetrable barriers, even when they apparently don’t have the energy to do so. Now, researchers have gleaned behind the curtain to better understand how this trick is done.

This problem has puzzled scientists for decades – in particular, the time it takes for particles to do their quantum tunnelling, and get from one side of a barrier to another.

In the case of the atomic hydrogen particles used in these experiments, the researchers found that it happens instantaneously.

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Mar 20, 2019

Budget Docs Show Pentagon Aims To Loft Particle Beam Anti-Missile Weapon Into Space In Four Years

Posted by in categories: military, particle physics, space

After three decades, the Pentagon is betting big on their belief that a dream of the Star Wars initiative may now be closer to a practical concept.

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Mar 19, 2019

Karen Uhlenbeck Is First Woman to Win Abel Prize for Mathematics

Posted by in categories: mathematics, particle physics, quantum physics

For the first time, one of the top prizes in mathematics has been given to a woman.

On Tuesday, the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters announced it has awarded this year’s Abel Prize — an award modeled on the Nobel Prizes — to Karen Uhlenbeck, an emeritus professor at the University of Texas at Austin. The award cites “the fundamental impact of her work on analysis, geometry and mathematical physics.”

One of Dr. Uhlenbeck’s advances in essence described the complex shapes of soap films not in a bubble bath but in abstract, high-dimensional curved spaces. In later work, she helped put a rigorous mathematical underpinning to techniques widely used by physicists in quantum field theory to describe fundamental interactions between particles and forces.

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Mar 17, 2019

Pentagon Wants to Test A Space-Based Weapon in 2023

Posted by in categories: existential risks, military, particle physics, satellites

Defense officials have asked for $304 million to fund research into space-based lasers, particle beams, and other new forms of missile defense next year.

Defense officials want to test a neutral particle-beam in orbit in fiscal 2023 as part of a ramped-up effort to explore various types of space-based weaponry. They’ve asked for $304 million in the 2020 budget to develop such beams, more powerful lasers, and other new tech for next-generation missile defense. Such weapons are needed, they say, to counter new missiles from China, Russia, North Korea and Iran. But just figuring out what might work is a difficult technical challenge.

So the Pentagon is undertaking two studies. The first is a $15 million exploration of whether satellites outfitted with lasers might be able to disable enemy missiles coming off the launch pad. Defense officials have said previously that these lasers would need to be in the megawatt class. They expect to finish the study within six months.

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Mar 15, 2019

Indian Scientists Measure 1.3-Billion-Volt Thunderstorm, the Strongest on Record

Posted by in categories: climatology, particle physics, space

Scientists in India observed the highest-voltage thunderstorm ever documented with the help of a subatomic particle you might not hear much about: the muon.

The researchers operate the GRAPES-3 telescope, which measures muons, particles that are similar to electrons but heavier. Specifically, the Gamma Ray Astronomy at PeV EnergieS Phase-3 (GRAPES-3) muon telescope measures high-energy particles from outer space called cosmic rays. It typically picks up 2.5 million muons each minute, mapped on a 13-by-13 grid across the sky. But during thunderstorms, it experiences quick changes to the amount of muons it receives. The GRAPES-3 researchers added electric field monitors to the experiment, and devised a way to turn these muon fluctuations into measurements of the voltage of passing storms.

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Mar 14, 2019

Why Fermilab is Making A Neutrino Detector 800 Miles Long

Posted by in category: particle physics

Researchers hope an underground experiment will reveal an elusive particle.

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Mar 12, 2019

New Quantum Physics Experiment Suggests That Reality Isn’t Objective

Posted by in categories: particle physics, quantum physics

A new quantum physics experiment just lent evidence to a mind-boggling idea that was previously limited to the realm of theory, according to the MIT Technology Review — that under the right conditions, two people can observe the same event, see two different things happen, and both be correct.

According to research shared to the preprint server arXiv on Tuesday, physicists from Heriot-Watt University demonstrated for the first time how two people can experience different realities by recreating a classic quantum physics thought experiment.

The experiment involves two people observing a single photon, the smallest quantifiable unit of light that can act as either a particle or a wave under different conditions.

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Mar 12, 2019

The Physics Still Hiding in the Higgs Boson

Posted by in categories: cosmology, particle physics, quantum physics

But no other new particles have materialized at the LHC, leaving open many mysteries about the universe that the Standard Model doesn’t address. A debate has ensued over whether to build an even more enormous successor to the LHC — a proposed machine 100 kilometers in circumference, possibly in Switzerland or China — to continue the search for new physics.

Physicists say there’s much we can still learn from the Higgs boson itself. What’s known is that the particle’s existence confirms a 55-year-old theory about the origin of mass in the universe. Its discovery won the 2013 Nobel Prize for Peter Higgs and François Englert, two of six theorists who proposed this mass-generating mechanism in the 1960s. The mechanism involves a field permeating all of space. The Higgs particle is a ripple, or quantum fluctuation, in this Higgs field. Because quantum mechanics tangles up the particles and fields of nature, the presence of the Higgs field spills over into other quantum fields; it’s this coupling that gives their associated particles mass.

But physicists understand little about the omnipresent Higgs field, or the fateful moment in the early universe when it suddenly shifted from having zero value everywhere (or in other words, not existing) into its current, uniformly valued state. That shift, or “symmetry-breaking” event, instantly rendered quarks, electrons and many other fundamental particles massive, which led them to form atoms and all the other structures seen in the cosmos.

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