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Winner of The Quantum Shorts 2013: The Knight of Infinity

Credit: Timothy Yeo / CQT, National University of Singapore

Quantum mechanics—operating at atom-size scales—is so odd in so many ways that even Einstein despairingly said of it that “God does not play dice with the world.” Now this stranger-than-fiction discipline has inspired some first-class narrative thrills, including the winner of The Quantum Shorts 2013 competition in the International category, decided by the judges, and [...]

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Guest Blog

Does Quantum Mechanics Flout the Laws of Thermodynamics?

Vlatko Vedral

Quantum mechanics is the most successful description of nature known to humans, yet it has many bizarre implications for our understanding of the world. There are phenomena of superposition (objects being in two places at the same time), entanglement (correlations that exceed any classical correlations) and nonlocality (apparent ability for information to travel instantaneously across [...]

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Life, Unbounded

This Is What We Don’t Know About The Universe

dont panic.001

In recent days I’ve had some interesting conversations. There’s a giddiness going around, related to an outpouring of science love – the kind you get from President Obama introducing TV science shows, the kind that has wonderful visuals, but is, well, a wee bit simplistic (a sin that none of us could ever, ever be [...]

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Observations

The Blurry Line between Small and Quantum Small

The late physicist Erwin Schrodinger was probably relieved to know that flesh and blood cats are too big to behave according to the laws of quantum physics. His intellectual heirs, however, no longer have that luxury. The line between the large and the small is not so clear cut as it was in Schrodinger’s day. [...]

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Observations

Spooky Action on Broadway: A Quantum Drama by Brian Greene

brian greene onstage world science festival

Fans of Brian Greene’s NOVA programs, such as The Fabric of the Cosmos, will no doubt enjoy what amounts to a 90-minute live episode. Kicking off the 2013 World Science Festival in New York City on Wednesday night, the show, “Spooky Action: The Drama of Quantum Mechanics” provides an entertaining and thought-provoking journey through the [...]

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Observations

Could Simple Experiments Reveal the Quantum Nature of Spacetime?

Conventional wisdom has it that putting the words “quantum gravity” and “experiment” in the same sentence is like bringing matter into contact with antimatter. All you get is a big explosion; the two just don’t go together. The distinctively quantum features of gravity only show up in extreme settings such as the belly of a [...]

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Observations

George and John’s Excellent Adventures in Quantum Entanglement [Video]

Simply put, bottomlessly deep: that is the definition of a great discovery in science. From the principle of relativity to evolution by natural selection, the concepts that govern our world are actually not that hard to state. What they mean and what they imply—well, that’s another matter. And so it is with quantum entanglement. One [...]

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Observations

What’s in a Femtosecond of Laser Light? A Map of Electron Energy

Illuminate a piece of metal, such as copper or silver, and the electrons get excited. These excitable particles in turn alter the electromagnetic fields that give rise to many of the properties technologists exploit, such as copper’s excellent performance as a conductor of electricity. Efforts to observe electrons have become easier in recent years, thanks [...]

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Observations

Quantum Cheshire Cat: Even Weirder Than Schrödinger’s

Just when you thought you’d heard every quantum mystery that was possible, out pops another one. Jeff Tollaksen mentioned it in passing during his talk at the recent Foundation Questions Institute conference. Probably Tollaksen assumed we’d all heard it before. After all, his graduate advisor, Yakir Aharonov—who has made an illustrious career of poking the [...]

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Observations

Free Will and Quantum Clones: How Your Choices Today Affect the Universe at its Origin

The late philosopher Robert Nozick, talking about the deep question of why there is something rather than nothing, quipped: “Someone who proposes a non-strange answer shows he didn’t understand the question.” So, when Scott Aaronson began a talk three weeks ago by saying it would be “the looniest talk I’ve ever given,” it was a [...]

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Observations

Physicists entangle a record-breaking 14 quantum bits

14 entangled calcium-ion qubits

Quantum information science is a bit like classroom management—the larger the group, the harder it is to keep everything together. But to build a practical quantum computer physicists will need many particles working in synchrony as quantum bits, or quibits. Each qubit can be a 0 and a 1 simultaneously, vaulting the number-crunching power of [...]

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Observations

Do-it-yourself quantum spooky action

Qutools booth

DRESDEN, Germany—How cool would it be not just to read about the craziness of quantum mechanics, but to see it—even better, do it—for yourself? Several years ago I asked virtuoso experimental physicist Paul Kwiat whether he could develop a simple demonstration anyone could do at home, and he and his undergraduate student Rachel Killmer came [...]

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Observations

Watching the electrons, and chemistry in motion

krypton-ionizing-image

The elusive goal of observing chemistry in action at the atomic level just took a quantum leap forward. Physicists using laser pulses have been able to observe for the first time—in real time—the outermost electrons of krypton atoms. As you may recall from high school chemistry it is these electrons that allow basic bonds to [...]

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