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Sun, 30 Apr 2017
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Science & Technology


Quantum Spookiness Spans the Canary Islands

The reach of the spooky quantum link called entanglement keeps getting longer. A team has transmitted entangled photons some 144 kilometers (89 miles) between La Palma and Tenerife, two of Spain's Canary Islands off the coast of Morocco. Physicist Anton Zeilinger of the University of Vienna, the group's leader, presented the results to his colleagues this week at the American Physical Society conference.

The distance achieved is 10 times farther than entangled photons have ever flown through the air. When two photons or other particles are in this state, what happens to one determines the fate of the other, no matter how far apart they are. Zeilinger compares the phenomenon with throwing a pair of dice that land on matching numbers every time.

Light Saber

A Hidden Twist In The Black Hole Information Paradox

Professor Sam Braunstein, of the University of York's Department of Computer Science, and Dr Arun Pati, of the Institute of Physics, Sainik School, Bhubaneswar, India, have established that quantum information cannot be 'hidden' in conventional ways, or in Braunstein's words, "quantum information can run but it can't hide."

This result gives a surprising new twist to one of the great mysteries about black holes.

Conventional (classical) information can vanish in two ways, either by moving to another place (e.g. across the internet), or by "hiding", such as in a coded message. The famous Vernam cipher devised in 1917 or its relative the one-time pad cryptographic code are examples of such classical information hiding: the information resides neither in the encoded message nor in the secret key pad used to decipher it - but in correlations between the two.

Evil Rays

Molten sodium mimics Earth's magnetic-field flipping

It has long been known that the Earth's magnetic field flips direction every quarter of a million years or so resulting in the north and south poles changing places. Now physicists in France have witnessed this phenomenon of magnetic-field reversal for the first time in the laboratory, by monitoring a 160-litre vat of swirling molten sodium. Their observations could eventually lead to a better understanding of "dynamo action", which is responsible for celestial bodies like the Earth being able to generate their own magnetic field.

Dynamo action involves the flow of an electrically conducting fluid converting mechanical energy into magnetic energy. In the Earth, the fluid is the liquid iron of the outer core, which is in constant turbulent motion because of convection and the Earth's overall rotation. But such dynamos are difficult to study - particularly when one wants to understand its effects on the scale of the Earth. Experiments require massive amounts of energy to sustain large volumes of swirling molten metal, and it is almost impossible to model the Earth's inner dynamics computationally because of the huge number of variables involved.

Evil Rays

UK military awaits Skynet launch

The British military is set to take one of its most significant steps into the digital age with the launch of the first Skynet 5 satellite.

The spacecraft will deliver secure, high-bandwidth communications for UK and "friendly" forces across the globe.

It is part of a multi-billion-pound project that will allow the Army, Royal Navy and RAF to pass much more data, faster between command centres.

The Skynet 5A platform lifts off from Kourou, French Guiana, on Saturday.

Comment: Hmmm... now we know Skynet has been around since the 70's, and that this was probably the inspiration for the "skynet" in the Terminator movies, but still, in that movie:

Military software developers created "skynet", a type of artificially intelligent computer software designed to make strategic military decisions, but which unexpectedly becomes self-aware. In a panic, the human creators attempt to shut Skynet down. In the interest of self-preservation, Skynet seizes control of most of the world's military hardware and launches an all-out thermonuclear attack on humanity, leading to a total war between human and machine.

Magic Wand

You Can't Travel Back in Time, Some Scientists Say (Others say you can!)

The urge to hug a departed loved one again or prevent atrocities are among the compelling reasons that keep the notion of time travel alive in the minds of many.

While the idea makes for great fiction, some scientists now say traveling to the past is impossible.


Will Biology Solve the Universe?

For years, scientists have tried to develop a universal theory of everything. Steven Hawking predicts that such a theory will be discovered in the next 20 years. A new theory asserts that biology, not physics, will be the key to unlocking the deepest mysteries of the universe, such as quantum mechanics.


Dawn of the GM babies?

Scientists will be able to carry out genetic experiments on human embryos for the first time under controversial Government plans.

Ministers have given the green light to research that some doctors warn raises the disturbing prospect of "genetically modified babies".

Comment: The dawn of GM babies? Hardly. People like Bush and Cheney were obviously genetically modified to be psychopathic. So, GM babies have been around for at least 60 odd years.]

And for those who say such "progress" is inevitable:

"progress" like this is not inevitable, it is chosen. However, what is missing is a little morality among the people who make the decisions on such "progress". Sadly, in a world dominated by amoral people like those in the Bush and Blair governments, mad science like GM babies will always be approved under the banner of "progress".


Fact or Fiction?: Glass Is a (Supercooled) Liquid

In medieval European cathedrals, the glass sometimes looks odd. Some panes are thicker at the bottom than they are at the top. The seemingly solid glass appears to have melted. This is evidence, say tour guides, Internet rumors and even high school chemistry teachers, that glass is actually a liquid. And, because glass is hard, it must be a supercooled liquid.

Glass, however, is actually neither a liquid - supercooled or otherwise - nor a solid. It is an amorphous solid - a state somewhere between those two states of matter. And yet glass's liquidlike properties are not enough to explain the thicker-bottomed windows, because glass atoms move too slowly for changes to be visible.


Sunlight puts asteroids in a spin

Astronomers in the US and Europe have proved that sunlight plays a key role in how fast asteroids rotate. The rotation is caused by the small torque given to an asteroid when previously absorbed solar radiation is re-emitted. This mechanism -- known as the "YORP" effect -- has now been seen for the first time in two asteroids, and could be the reason behind the odd distribution of rotations seen in asteroid families.

Large asteroids rotate at a range of different speeds, roughly following a bell-shaped "Gaussian" distribution in which most rotate at a speed close to some average, with only a small proportion rotating much faster or much slower then the norm. However, the distribution for asteroids with a diameter less than 10 km is rather different - their families have a large excess of asteroids rotating at the fast and slow extremes.

Researchers had thought that the odd distributions could be a result of infrared photons from the Sun warming an asteroid's near surface as they are absorbed. These absorbed photons are re-emitted once the surface turns away from the Sun, making the asteroid recoil a tiny amount each time they depart. Although a symmetrical asteroid would be unaffected by these recoils, an irregularly-shaped asteroid would experience a net torque that increases the speed of its rotation over millions of years - the so-called "YORP" effect (named after its originators Yarkovsky, O'Keefe, Radzievskii and Paddack). However, the torque would be so small that it would only cause a significant rotation in small asteroids.


NASA lacks funds to find killer asteroids

A killer asteroid whose target is Earth will likely go undetected because NASA doesn't have the funds to find it, media reported Tuesday.

NASA officials say the space agency is capable of finding nearly all the asteroids that might destroy Earth, but the price to find at least 90 percent of the 20,000 potentially hazardous asteroids and comets by 2020 would be about 1 billion U.S. dollars, according to a report NASA will release later this week.

The report was previewed Monday at a Planetary Defense Conference in Washington.

Comment: Defending against one asteroid that might hit us is one thing, defending against hundreds or thousands is another. In any case, we suspect that those Powers That Be are well aware of the real danger and have prepared their underground bunkers leaving the Rest Of Us to face the music. And it is a funeral dirge...

Check out Laura Knight Jadczyk's article Independence Day for details. Coming to a reality near you....