Physics News of the Week (October 28 – November 4)

| November 4, 2012 | 0 Comments


Another week has gone by an some amazing stuff has happened in the world of physics. So as always let’s do a quick recap of the most important events. If you would like to see the archive of older news you can do so here. Also, if you would like to register for our new RSS email newsletter to receive the most important weekly physics news, please do so here.

1. Malaria Can Now be Detected Using Light and Magnets (October 30)

Contrary to a popular belief physics is not only abstract string theory and mind-blowing quantum mechanics. It’s actually quite useful in various other fields of science and even our daily lives. A great example would be a recently discovered technique of  using cheap magnets and run-of-the-mill pocket lasers to detect malaria developed by scientists in Hungary. It exploits the unique magnetic and optical properties of crystalline waste produced by malaria parasites in the bloodstream and offers an inexpensive, sensitive and reliable alternative to existing diagnostic tools. Full article can be found here.

Light: is it a wave, a particle or both? 

2. Physicists Devise a New Experiment to test Quantum Mechanics (November 1)

One of the most intense debates in the world of physics throughout the centuries was whether light was made of  particles or a waves. Newton believed that light was actually made of particles (corpuscular theory of light) and due to Newton’s authority back in the day this view became dominant for a while. It didn’t last long, however, as a guy by the name of James Clerk Maxwell summarized the known laws of electricity and magnetism in what’s now known as Maxwell’s equations. These equation had a peculiar feature — they showed that electromagnetic waves travelled at exactly the speed of light, which suggested that perhaps light and electromagnetic phenomena were the same thing. So light suddenly became a wave in the middle of 18th century. But in the beginning of the 20th century, namely 1905, the description of photo effect by Einstein resurrected the debate by describing light as a collection of quanta of energy known as photons. This description of light made of particles was one of a number of clues, which led to the so called quantum revolution, which overthrown the classical physics. The surprising thing is that in quantum mechanics light (or matter) can have properties of waves and particles. So what is light? Is it a collection of particles, a wave or both? A group of physicists from the University of Bristol might hold a key to this question.

In a paper published on the 1st of November in Science, physicists from the University of Bristol give a new twist on these ideas. Dr Alberto Peruzzo, Peter Shadbolt and Professor Jeremy O’Brien from the Centre for Quantum Photonics teamed up with quantum theorists Dr Nicolas Brunner and Professor Sandu Popescu to devise a novel type of measurement apparatus that can measure both particle and wave-like behaviour simultaneously. Professor O’Brien, Director of the Centre for Quantum Photonics, said: “To conduct this research, we used a quantum photonic chip, a novel technology pioneered in Bristol. The chip is reconfigurable so it can be programmed and controlled to implement different circuits. Today this technology is a leading approach in the quest to build a quantum computer and in the future will allow for new and more sophisticated studies of fundamental aspects of quantum phenomena.” Read the full article here.

3. World Record for the Entanglement of Twisted Light Quanta (November 2)

The Vienna research team led by Anton Zeilinger has achieved a new milestone in the history of quantum physics: the scientists were able to generate and measure the entanglement of the largest quantum numbers to date. The researchers developed a new method for entangling single photons which gyrate in opposite directions. This result is a first step towards entangling and twisting even macroscopic, spatially separated objects in two different directions. For more head here

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