Physics News of the Week: Gravitational Waves Turn to Dust After Flawed Analysis?

| June 8, 2014 | 0 Comments

Today we’re gonna take a look at the latest events in the world of science. Here are the top 3 discoveries, including the corresponding links. To receive these news straight to your email, register for our newsletter.

1. 60 Year-Old Prediction of Atomic Behavior Confirmed (June 4)

A recent discovery by researchers at Washington state university might be the key to superfast quantum computing. Working out of a lab in WSU’s Webster Hall, physicist Peter Engels and his colleagues cooled about one million atoms of rubidium to 100 billionths of a degree above absolute zero. At that point, the cluster of atoms formed a Bose-Einstein condensate — a rare physical state predicted by Albert Einstein and Indian theorist Satyendra Nath Bose . At that point the atoms of the material could be induced to exhibit coherent “superradiant” behavior predicted by Princeton University physicist Robert Dicke in 1954.   “This large group of atoms does not behave like a bunch of balls in a bucket,” said Engels. “It behaves as one big super-atom. Therefore it magnifies the effects of quantum mechanics.” This work takes another step towards the development of quantum computers, which use the fundamental laws of quantum mechanics to compute more and faster than any modern computer could. 

The big discovery of gravitational waves might be simple space dust after all

2. Gravitational Waves Turn to Dust After Claims of Flawed Analysis (June 5)

The big discovery of this year — the evidence of gravitational waves as seen in the CMB — might turn out to be simple dust, according to physicists claiming that the analysis was flawed.  Paul Steinhardt, director of the Centre for Theoretical Physics at Princeton University, argues that the Harvard team made an unfortunate blunder in its calculations. “Serious flaws in the analysis have been revealed that transform the sure detection into no detection,” he writes. According to the Harvard group there was a one in 2m chance of the result being a statistical fluke. But within hours of making the announcement, scientists began to raise concerns. The criticisms have been building up steadily on physics blogs ever since. According to Steinhardt, this independent analysis bring the flaws of the big discovery into daylight and show how simple space dust could be the source of the polarization.

3. The Most Ancient Habitable Exoplanet Found (June 5)

An international team of astronomers has uncovered the most ancient habitable exoplanet found to date. At around 11.5 billion years old, the recently found super-Earth is more than twice as old as our own planet and shows that habitable worlds were around much earlier in the universe’s history than previously thought. The unusual discovery came from a survey of nearby, low-mass stars led by Guillem Anglada-Escudé of Queen Mary University of London.  A super-Earth that lies within the habitable zone of a red-dwarf star has been found before. What makes this discovery unique, however, is the troubled history of Kapteyn’s star. “It has a very high velocity and a peculiar trajectory – it is not following the other stars around the galaxy,” Anglada-Escudé said. 

Other news:

Gravitational Fields Around Black Holes Might Swirl
No Evidence of Double Nature of Neutrinos
Plan to Send Humans to Mars Might Fail

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