Physics News of the Week: Evidence for the Anthropic Principle

| January 18, 2015 | 0 Comments

Another week has passed and it’s time to review the top news of physics once again. As always, here are the top 3 research stories that were published last week. For more news and other cool stuff, register for our email newsletter.

1.  Decoding the Gravitational Evolution of Dark Matter Halos (Jan 13)

Researchers have revealed that considering environmental effects such as a gravitational tidal force spread over a scale much larger than a galaxy cluster is indispensable to explain the distribution and evolution of dark matter halos around galaxies. A detailed comparison between theory and simulations enabled scientist from Kavli IPMU to gain new insights into the elusive dark matter.

“The results of our study allow the distribution of dark matter halos to be more accurately predicted by properly taking into account higher-order terms missed in the literature,” said Shun Saito, the principal investigator of the study from Kavli IPMU. “Our refined model has been already applied to actual data analysis in the BOSS project. This study certainly improves the measurement of the nature of dark energy or neutrino masses. Hence, it has led to a better understanding of the fundamental physics of the universe.”

Could the anthropic principle lead to testable predictions?

2. Improved Interface for Quantum Internet (Jan 15)

During the last decade or so the idea of a quantum computer has been steadily marching out of the realm of science fiction straight into the real-life labs of engineers and physicists. Now, a team of Innsbruck physicists led by Rainer Blatt and Tracy Northup showed how the information transfer between light and matter, crucial to the operation of quantum computers, can be optimized by taking advantage of a collective quantum phenomenon.

“In order to build a quantum network with trapped ions, we need an efficient interface that will allow us to transfer quantum information from ions to photons,” explains Tracy Northup, project leader in Rainer Blatt’s team. “In our interface, we position two ions between two highly reflective mirrors, which form an optical resonator. We entangle the ions with one another and couple both of them to the resonator. Then thanks to superradiance, the process of information transfer from the particle to the photon essentially becomes more robust,” Casabone emphasizes. As a consequence, the technical requirements for the construction of accurate interfaces may be relaxed.

3. New Evidence for the Anthropic Principle (Jan 16)

According to the recent cosmological observations, certain constants in fundamental physics seem extraordinarily fine-tuned to allow for the emergence of a life-enabling universe, in accordance with the anthropic principle. One of the biggest proponents of this rather abstract principle is a German scholar Ulf-G Meißner, who recently released a new study titled “Anthropic considerations in nuclear physics”.

“One can indeed perform physics tests of this rather abstract statement for specific processes like element generation,” Meißner commented on his recent paper. “Specific physics problems we want to address, namely how sensitive the generation of the light elements in the Big Bang is to changes in the light quark mass m_q and also, how robust the resonance condition in the triple alpha process, i.e. the closeness of the so-called Hoyle state to the energy of 4He+8Be, is under variations in m_q and the electromagnetic fine structure constant α_{EM},” he added.

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