Physics News of the Week: New Evidence for an Exotic Superconducting State

| October 26, 2014 | 0 Comments

Another great autumn week has passed and it’s time to take a look at the top news of the week. As always, here are the top three news stories with corresponding links. For more news and other free stuff, register for our email newsletter.

1. Siding Spring Comet Comet Races Past Mars ( Oct 20)

A recently discovered comet has whizzed past Mars at 56km per second  speed(125,000mph), missing it by 139,500 km. This rare event has given scientists a unique chance to study an object from the farthest reaches of the Solar System. Researchers believe the comet is very little altered from the time of its formation more than 4.5 billion years ago.

“Siding Spring probably got knocked into the inner Solar System by the passage of a star near the Oort Cloud,” said Carey Lisse, from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, US. “So think about a comet that started to travel probably at the dawn of man and it’s just now coming in.”

Mars orbiters were used to study the comet focusing on its shape, the gas and dust shroud (known as the coma) and the material trailing away from it. Additionally, scientists had a unique opportunity to study the interaction of the atmosphere of the red planet with the comet.

The path of the Siding Spring in the Solar system

2. When Parallel Worlds Collide, Quantum Mechanics is Born (Oct 24)

The idea of parallel universes is one often used and abused by science fiction writers, but what role does it play in science? According to a recent paper on the subject, parallel universes not only exist, but they can collide. As Howard Wiseman commented on his paper co-authored with Michael Hall, their paper involves many worlds, an idea familiar in quantum mechanics.

“First, we postulate a fixed, although truly gigantic, number of worlds. All of these exist continuously through time – there is no “branching”. Second, our worlds are not “fuzzy” – they have precisely defined properties. In our approach, a world is specified by the exact position and velocity of every particle in that world – there is no Heisenberg uncertainty principle that applies to a single world. Indeed, if there were only one world in our theory, it would evolve exactly according to Newtonian mechanics, not quantum mechanics. Third, our worlds do interact and that interaction is the source of all quantum effects, ” Wiseman described his new paper. The interesting aspect of the research that it, at least in principle, could be tested experimentally. To find out more, use the link in the title.

3. New Evidence for an Exotic Superconducting State (Oct 26)

Superconductors and magnetic fields do not usually get along. But a research team led by a Brown University physicist has produced new evidence for an exotic superconducting state, first predicted a half-century ago, that can indeed arise when a superconductor is exposed to a strong magnetic field.

“It took 50 years to show that this phenomenon indeed happens,” said Vesna Mitrovic, associate professor of physics at Brown University, who led the work. “We have identified the microscopic nature of this exotic quantum state of matter.”

The discovery, according to the authors, has far reaching implications in other fields, such as helping astrophysicists to understand pulsars—densely packed neutron stars believed to harbor both superconductivity and strong magnetic fields. For more details, use the links above.

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