Physics News of the Week: Meteorite Leaves a Crater in Managua + the Pilot Wave Theory

| September 14, 2014 | 0 Comments

The 2nd week of autumn has passed and it’s time to review the physics news of the week. As always, here are the top 3 news stories including links to original articles. To receive these news straight to your inbox, register for our email newsletter here.

1.  Meteorite Leaves a Crater in Managua (Sep 8)

A small meteorite landed near the international airport in the Nicaraguan capital, Managua, on Saturday night, according to the government officials. Residents reported hearing a loud bang and feeling the impact, which left a crater 12m (40ft) wide and 5m deep.

Government spokeswoman Rosario Murillo said the meteorite seemed to have broken off an asteroid which was passing close to Earth. 2014RC, an asteroid as big as a house, came closest to earth at 18:18 GMT on Sunday, when it passed over New Zealand at a distance of about 40,000km (25,000 miles). Such a rare event not only offers scientists some invaluable information about asteroids, but also an opportunity for NASA to upgrade their asteroid tracking technology.

2. Quantum Revolution a Step Closer (Sep 11)

A new way to run a quantum algorithm using much simpler methods than previously thought has been discovered by a team of researchers at the University of Bristol. These findings could dramatically bring forward the development of a “quantum computer” capable of beating a conventional computer.

The first definitive defeat for a classical computer could be achieved with a quantum device that runs an algorithm known as Boson Sampling, recently developed by researchers at MIT. Boson Sampling uses single photons of light and optical circuits to take samples from an exponentially large probability distribution, which has been proven to be extremely difficult for classical computers.

3. Fluid Mechanics Offers an Alternative to Quantum Orthodoxy (Sep 12)

The central mystery of quantum mechanics is that small chunks of matter sometimes seem to behave like particles, sometimes like waves. The most popular explanation to this is offered by the so called “Copenhagen interpretation”, which holds that, in some sense, a single particle really is a wave, smeared out across the universe, that collapses into a determinate location only when observed.

One of the alternative explanations — called the “pilot-wave theory” — suggests that quantum particles are borne along on some type of wave, which explains why they exhibit both wave-like and particle-like properties. Now a professor of applied mathematics believes that pilot-wave theory deserves a second look.

Last year, John Bush and one of his students — Jan Molacek, now at the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization — did for their system what the quantum pioneers couldn’t do for theirs: they derived an equation relating the dynamics of the pilot waves to the particles’ trajectories. In their fluidic system, both the bouncing droplet and its guiding wave are plainly visible and thus can be easily investigated. Now the interesting part is that in a recent series of papers, Bush, Ruben Rosales, Anand Oza and Dan Harris applied their pilot-wave theory to show how chaotic pilot-wave dynamics leads to the quantum-like statistics. This enables comparing the described fluidic system with real quantum systems. To find out more, use the link above.

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