Light everywhere – ज्ञान विज्ञान विश्व विद्यालय http://gyanvigyanprasar.com Global School of Science and Philosophy Thu, 05 Jan 2017 06:08:26 +0000 en hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.3 An Indian chemical plant has figured out how to turn its carbon emissions into baking soda http://gyanvigyanprasar.com/2017/01/blog-post_542.html http://gyanvigyanprasar.com/2017/01/blog-post_542.html#respond Thu, 05 Jan 2017 06:08:26 +0000 http://gyanvigyanprasar.com/?p=542 An Indian chemical plant has figured out how to turn its carbon emissions into baking soda This could solve a lot of problems. PETER DOCKRILL 4 JAN 2017 AddThis Sharing Buttons Share to FacebookShare to TwitterShare to FlipboardShare to Copy Link A chemical plant in India is the first in the world to run a …

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An Indian chemical plant has figured out how to turn its carbon emissions into baking soda

This could solve a lot of problems.

PETER DOCKRILL
4 JAN 2017

A chemical plant in India is the first in the world to run a new system for capturing carbon emissions and converting them into baking soda.

The Tuticorin Alkali Chemicals plant, in the industrial port city of Tuticorin, is expecting to convert some 60,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually into baking soda and other chemicals – and the scientists behind the process say the technique could be used to ultimately capture and transform up to 10 percent of global emissions from coal.

While carbon capture technology is not a new thing, what’s remarkable about the Tuticorin installation is that it’s running without subsidies from the government – suggesting the researchers have developed a profitable, practical system that could have the commercial potential to expand to other plants and industries.

“I am a businessman. I never thought about saving the planet,” the managing director of the plant, Ramachadran Gopalan, told the BBC.

“I needed a reliable stream of CO2, and this was the best way of getting it.”

The inventors of the new technique, London-based Carbon Clean Solutions, developed the system in the UK after receiving finance from a British entrepreneur support scheme. Their process uses a patented chemical to filter out CO2 molecules.

In the Tuticorin setup, the plant runs a coal-fired burner to make steam that powers its various chemical-manufacturing processes. A mist containing Carbon Clean’s chemical separates the CO2 emissions in the burner’s chimney, which are then fed into a mixing chamber with salt and ammonia.

The end product can then be used to produce baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) or a range of other compounds, for use in things such as glass manufacture, detergents, disinfectants, and sweeteners.

The overall idea of separating CO2 molecules from flue gas may not be new, but the team behind the system say that their filtering chemical is more efficient than the amine compounds that scientists have previously used, and requires less energy to run.

According to CEO Aniruddha Sharma, the company’s approach is to think realistically, partnering with modest, low-risk enterprises as it builds itself up – and he says the same strategy should be implemented by the carbon capture industry as a whole.

“So far the ideas for carbon capture have mostly looked at big projects, and the risk is so high they are very expensive to finance,” Sharma told Roger Harrabin at The Guardian.

“We want to set up small-scale plants that de-risk the technology by making it a completely normal commercial option.”

The other compelling aspect of the system is that it actually does something positive with the carbon – making new chemicals and products – rather than simply storing it somewhere in a useless, dormant state (such as burying it underground).

That distinction is the difference between carbon capture and storage (CCS) and what’s called carbon capture and utilisation (CCU).

And given the expense involved with building carbon capture systems, the ability to on-sell a byproduct could be incredibly important in making this technology financially viable in the bigger picture.

“We have to do everything we can to reduce the harmful effects of burning fossil fuels,” Lord Ronald Oxburgh, the head of the UK government’s carbon capture advisory group, told the BBC, “and it is great news that more ways are being found of turning at least some of the CO2 into useful products.”

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Finland has just launched a world-first universal basic income experiment http://gyanvigyanprasar.com/2017/01/blog-post_538.html http://gyanvigyanprasar.com/2017/01/blog-post_538.html#respond Thu, 05 Jan 2017 05:59:22 +0000 http://gyanvigyanprasar.com/?p=538 Finland has just launched a world-first universal basic income experiment It’s finally happening. DOM GALEON, FUTURISM 3 JAN 2017 AddThis Sharing Buttons Share to FacebookShare to TwitterShare to FlipboardShare to Copy Link It looks like 2,000 citizens in Finland will welcome the new year with outstretched arms. These Finns are the lucky recipients of a …

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Finland has just launched a world-first universal basic income experiment

It’s finally happening.

DOM GALEON, FUTURISM
3 JAN 2017

It looks like 2,000 citizens in Finland will welcome the new year with outstretched arms.

These Finns are the lucky recipients of a guaranteed income beginning this year, as the country’s government finally rolls out its universal basic income (UBI) trial run.

UBI is a potential source of income that could one day be available to all adult citizens, regardless of income, wealth, or employment status.

This pioneering UBI program was launched by the federal social security institution, Kela. It will give out €560 (US$587) a month, tax free, to 2,000 Finns that were randomly selected.

The only requirement was that they had to be already receiving unemployment benefits or an income subsidy.

The program allows unemployed Finns to not lose their benefits, even when they try out odd jobs.

“Incidental earnings do not reduce the basic income, so working and … self-employment are worthwhile no matter what,” says Marjukka Turunen, legal unit head at Kela.

If successful, the program could be extended to include all adult Finns.

“Its purpose is to reduce the work involved in applying for subsidies, as well as free up time and resources for other activities, such as making or applying for work,” according to a press release by Kela.

Furthermore, the Finnish government, as well as UBI advocates, may see how this program can end up saving more money for Finland in the long run – as it is less costly than maintaining social welfare services for the unemployed.

“Some people think basic income will solve every problem under the sun, and some people think it’s from the hand of Satan and will destroy our work ethic,” said Olli Kangas, who oversees research at Kela, about the program.

“I’m hoping we can create some knowledge on this issue.”

Then, of course, there is the looming issue of job loss due to automation. Many UBI proponents, including tech entrepreneurs Elon Musk (Tesla and SpaceX) and Sam Altman (Y Combinator), see the program as the only solution to the problem.

UBI is, without a doubt, controversial. There is an ongoing debate as to whether or not it’s a workable system. Of course, the only real way to definitively find out is to put the system to the test – hence, Finland’s experiment.

After its two-year run, the government will have enough data – from the 2,000 participants and a control group of about 173,000 non-participants from the same background – to see just how effective a UBI program could be.

Finland is just one of several governments considering a UBI trial in 2017. Also set for a trial this month is the city of Utrecht in the Netherlands – with Canada and Uganda also preparing their own programs.

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Physicists have figured out how to create matter and antimatter using light http://gyanvigyanprasar.com/2016/09/blog-post_528.html http://gyanvigyanprasar.com/2016/09/blog-post_528.html#respond Fri, 30 Sep 2016 08:11:25 +0000 http://gyanvigyanprasar.com/?p=528 A team of researchers from the Institute of Applied Physics of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IAP RAS) has just announced that they managed to calculate how to create matter and antimatter using lasers. This means that, by focusing high-powered laser pulses, we might soon be able to create matter and antimatter using light. To …

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A team of researchers from the Institute of Applied Physics of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IAP RAS) has just announced that they managed to calculate how to create matter and antimatter using lasers.

This means that, by focusing high-powered laser pulses, we might soon be able to create matter and antimatter using light.

To break this down a bit, light is made of high-energy photons. When high-energy photons go through strong electric fields, they lose enough radiation that they become gamma rays and create electron-positron pairs, thus creating a new state of matter.

“A strong electric field can, generally speaking, ‘boil the vacuum,’ which is full of ‘virtual particles,’ such as electron-positron pairs. The field can convert these types of particles from a virtual state, in which the particles aren’t directly observable, to a real one,” says Igor Kostyukov of IAP RAS, who references their calculations on the concept of quantum electrodynamics (QED).

12182736-fut-lightNASA Astrophysics

A QED cascade is a series of processes that starts with electrons and positrons accelerating within a laser field. It will then be followed by the release of high-energy photons, electrons, and positrons.

As high-energy photons decay, it will produce electron-positron pairs. Essentially, a QED cascade will lead to the production of electron positron high-energy photon plasmas – and while it perfectly illustrates the QED phenomenon, it is a theory that has yet to be observed under lab conditions.

Based on this, researchers observed how intense laser pulses would interact with a foil via numerical simulations. Surprisingly, they discovered that there were more high-energy photons produced by the positrons versus electrons produced of the foil.

And if you could produce a massive number of positrons via a corresponding experiment, you can conclude that most were generated via a QED cascade.

As complicated as all that sounds, here’s the bottom line – this discovery can open new doors in terms of how we can efficiently and cost-effectively produce matter and antimatter, the latter of which can significantly change the way we power our spaceships.

As has been previously noted, making this potential power source is not cheap:

“The problem lies in the efficiency and cost of antimatter production and storage. Making 1 gram of antimatter would require approximately 25 million billion kilowatt-hours of energy and cost over a million billion dollars.”

This work offers us a new way forward.

Their study also offers major insight into the properties of different types of interactions that could eventually pave the way for practical applications, including the development of advanced ideas for the laser-plasma sources of high-energy photons and positrons that will exceed the brilliance of any available source we have today.

“Next, we’re exploring the nonlinear stage when the self-generated electron-positron plasma strongly modifies the interaction,” the researchers add.

“And we’ll also try to expand our results to more general configurations of the laser-matter interactions and other regimes of interactions – taking a wider range of parameters into consideration.”

This article was originally published by Futurism. Read the original article.

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The world’s first hydrogen-powered passenger train is coming to Germany The future is here. http://gyanvigyanprasar.com/2016/09/blog-post_525.html http://gyanvigyanprasar.com/2016/09/blog-post_525.html#respond Tue, 27 Sep 2016 07:40:57 +0000 http://gyanvigyanprasar.com/?p=525 The world’s first hydrogen-powered passenger train has been unveiled this week by French transport company Alstom, which will be operating the incredibly quiet and environmentally friendly ‘Coradia iLint’ in Germany from next year. The best thing about the Coradia iLint train is that it only leaks excess steam and condensed water into the atmosphere, which means …

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The world’s first hydrogen-powered passenger train has been unveiled this week by French transport company Alstom, which will be operating the incredibly quiet and environmentally friendly ‘Coradia iLint’ in Germany from next year.

The best thing about the Coradia iLint train is that it only leaks excess steam and condensed water into the atmosphere, which means it offers a zero-emissions alternative to Germany’s 4,000-strong fleet of diesel trains.

The train was presented to the public for the first time last week at Berlin’s InnoTrans trade show. Nicknamed the hydrail, it’s set to become the first hydrogen-powered passenger train to regularly operate over long distances.

The iLint is expected to run on the Buxtehude-Bremervörde-Bremerhaven-Cuxhaven regional line in the northwestern German state of Lower Saxony, with testing and approval procedures to be carried out later this year, and public access to open up by December 2017.

According to German newspaper Die Welt, Lower Saxony’s local transportation authority has so far ordered 14 iLint trains from Alstom, and if they prove to be a success, more will likely be seen in other regional areas of the country.

Interest in the train has also been expressed by leaders in the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway.

The iLint is powered by massive lithium ion batteries, which get their energy from a hydrogen fuel tank installed on the roof. On a full tank, which requires about 94 kg per car, the hydrail can operate for an entire full day, or travel up to 800 km. Its top speed is reportedly 140 km/h (87 mph).

Hydrogen-powered technology for trains has been around for just over a decade now, but rather than being used to ferry us humans around, full-hydrogen and hybrid versions have so far only been used in the freight industry.

As Christina Beck from The Christian Science Monitor reports, back in 2004, the Japanese Railway Research Institute developed a prototype fuel cell, and it went into use two years later. And last year, China started using hydrogen to power its trams in an effort to curb its severe air pollution problem.

The difference here is that Germany’s Coradia iLint will be able to transport 300 passengers at a time, and will be the first fully hydrogen-powered train to complete run long-distance routes

While carbon-based emissions from trains are actually a whole lot better than emissions from other types of vehicles – only 2.6 percent of Australia’s transport greenhouse gas emissions are attributable to rail, including passenger and freight – Germany’s commitment to renewables is stretching to just about any industry that it can feasibly apply.

And it’s paying off: on 8 May 2016, an impressive 95 percent of Germany’s power demands were met by renewable energy sources, and at certain points during the day, certain members of the public were being reimbursed for their energy usage.

“Power prices actually went negative for several hours, meaning commercial customers were being paid to consume electricity,” Michael J. Coren reported for Quartz at the time.

Not bad for one of the most developed and industrialised nations in the world.

Germany now plans on achieving an overall 60 percent share of renewable energy sources by 2050, which means it still has a whole lot of room to grow before it can catch up to Costa Rica, which earlier this month announced that it has been running on 100 percent renewable energy for two months straight.

Let’s hope the iLint can eventually replace the country’s 4,000 diesel trains, and get them closer to their goal.

Here’s a quick run-down of how the technology works (larger version here):

Alstom Coradia-iLint Decryption en OK by ahawkins8223 on Scribd

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New evidence is forcing scientists to reconsider how the Moon was formed http://gyanvigyanprasar.com/2016/09/blog-post_522.html http://gyanvigyanprasar.com/2016/09/blog-post_522.html#respond Wed, 14 Sep 2016 12:12:57 +0000 http://gyanvigyanprasar.com/?p=522   New evidence is forcing scientists to reconsider how the Moon was formed Things just got complicated. BEC CREW 13 SEP 2016 For decades, scientists have been debating what it would have looked like when a chunk of Earth broke off and formed our Moon some 4.5 billion years ago. And now new chemical evidence …

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New evidence is forcing scientists to reconsider how the Moon was formed

Things just got complicated.

BEC CREW
13 SEP 2016

For decades, scientists have been debating what it would have looked like when a chunk of Earth broke off and formed our Moon some 4.5 billion years ago.

And now new chemical evidence suggests that things were way more violent than we’d assumed, with researchers suggesting that the impact that set our Moon free was “like a sledgehammer hitting a watermelon”.

It’s well-established that the Moon was once a part of Earth before it was sloughed off the side and thrown into our orbit, but the circumstances in which this ‘great uncoupling’ occurred has been a topic of heated debate.

Until recently, the most widely accepted hypothesis for how the Moon was formed suggested that a Mars-sized object (sometimes called Theia) once collided with the still-developing Earth, about 20 to 100 million years after the Solar System first came together.

While our young planet appears to have come out of the collision fairly unscathed, the impact would have caused Theia’s core and most of its mantle to sink into and merge with Earth’s own core and mantle.

Of the remaining dust and debris that were ejected into Earth’s orbit, a small accretion disc was formed, and from this, our Moon eventually took shape.

While this encounter might sound pretty violent, the consensus among scientists for almost five decades has been that Theia made a fairly low-energy graze across the surface of Earth.

This hypothesis, known as ‘the giant impact’, went on to explain all kinds of other things – such as the large size of the Moon relative to Earth, and their separate rotation rates – and there’s a whole lot of evidence to support it.

But there was always one big problem with this hypothesis. It would make sense that a large portion of the material that makes up the Moon would have come from Theia, but chemical analyses on samples brought back by the Apollo missions in the 1970s indicated that Earth and lunar rocks were nearly identical.

Simulation after simulation of the impact predicted that most of the material (60 to 80 percent) that formed the Moon would have come from the impactor, rather than from Earth, and it was extremely unlikely that Earth and Theia had the same chemical make-up.

Fast-forward to now, and geochemists from Harvard and Washington University are reporting that a new, more detailed analysis of seven Moon rocks and eight Earth rocks didn’t clear things up like they were expecting – it actually blew the giant impact hypothesis right out of the water.

“We’re still remeasuring the old Apollo samples from the ’70s, because the tech has been developing in recent years,” one of the team, Kun Wang from Washington University, told Ria Misra from Gizmodo.

“We can measure much smaller differences between Earth and the Moon, so we found a lot of things we didn’t find in the 1970s. The old models just could not explain the new observations.”

In fact, not only did the new analysis find no new evidence of materials that could have come from something other than Earth – it actually suggested that the origins of these Moon rocks were even more tightly bound to Earth than we thought.

And there was another neat little detail in there. Every single isotopic signature in the chemical analysis matched up to both Earth and the Moon, except for one: heavy-potassium isotope in the lunar samples.

In order for this heavy-potassium isotope to appear separately in the lunar rocks, they must have sustained some incredibly hot temperatures, and from this, the team suggests that the Moon-forming collision was a whole lot more violent than we could ever have imagined.

As Loren Grush explains over at The Verge:

“The collision that formed the Moon wasn’t low energy at all, [Wang] argues. Instead, the impact was extremely violent, pulverising most of Earth and the impactor, and turning them into a vapour.

In this scenario, the vaporised Earth and impactor mix together into a giant dense atmosphere. This atmosphere then cools and condenses into our planet and its satellite.”

It’s an incredibly bold claim, because not only does it suggest we were wrong about how our own Moon formed, but it paints a picture of a far more violent and volatile early Solar System than we thought.

While no one’s come out to dispute the claims outright, the onus is now on Wang and his team to make their hypothesis more convincing and weighted in evidence than the one we’ve been carrying around for almost 50 years.

And that involves demonstrating how seven lunar samples high in heavy-potassium isotope can accurately represent the Moon’s overall potassium composition.

“I’m very pleased overall with what they have done, I just wish they had used better samples,” Munir Humayun, a geologist at Florida State University who was not involved in the study, told The Verge, adding that there’s not enough data to support the hypothesis just yet.

Wang himself doesn’t seem too fazed by the criticism, saying every new hypothesis takes time to settle in and become accepted as the evidence mounts around it.

“It took people decades to accept this giant-impact hypothesis,” he says. “Now we’re saying that [the] giant impact hypothesis is not right, so it may take 10 to 20 years to accept the new model.”

Only time will tell if his version of the Moon origin story will hold up to scrutiny.

The study has been published in Nature.

moon-hyp

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Human Growth round the world http://gyanvigyanprasar.com/2016/07/blog-post_508.html http://gyanvigyanprasar.com/2016/07/blog-post_508.html#respond Thu, 28 Jul 2016 05:57:42 +0000 http://gyanvigyanprasar.com/?p=508 Global height study finds out who grew the most in the past 100 years Get up, stand up. JACINTA BOWLER 27 JUL 2016 933 In a global height analysis based on nearly 1,500 studies, Dutch men and Latvian women topped the charts, standing tallest at heights of 182.5cm and 169.8cm on average respectively. The study …

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Global height study finds out who grew the most in the past 100 years

Get up, stand up.

JACINTA BOWLER
27 JUL 2016

In a global height analysis based on nearly 1,500 studies, Dutch men and Latvian women topped the charts, standing tallest at heights of 182.5cm and 169.8cm on average respectively.

The study found heights have changed dramatically between 1914 and 2014, with South Korean women showing the largest increase of 20.2 cm over the period.

Americans are leading the race in another trend – plateauing. The study shows that although humans as a species are still getting taller, countries such as the US, UK, and Japan have stopped or slowed growing significantly in the last 30-40 years.

The US, once home to the 3rd tallest men and 4th tallest women in the world, are now sitting in 37th and 42nd place respectively.

“This study gives us a picture of the health of nations over the past century, and reveals the average height of some nations may even be shrinking while others continue to grow taller,” said lead researcher Majid Ezzati from Imperial College London in the UK.

“Our study also shows the English-speaking world, especially the USA, is falling behind other high-income nations in Europe and Asia Pacific. Together with the poor performance of these countries in terms of obesity, this emphasises the need for more effective policies towards healthy nutrition throughout life.”

Although part of the height difference can be attributed to genetics, the height increase is likely due to nutrition, hygiene, and healthcare – factors that influence whether people are reaching their height potential.

“An individual’s genetics has a big influence on [their] height … but once you average over whole populations, genetics plays a less key [role],” one of the researchers, James Bentham, told Nicola Davis at The Guardian.

“Most populations would grow to roughly similar heights if they were all in the same conditions.”

So where does your country sit in regards to heights, then and now? The researchers have put together an interactive world map to show how our heights have changed. There’s also a full list of rankings for males and females in the 200 countries studied.

Most of the top countries for height are European countries, with Australia being the only country not in Europe to be inside the top 25.

The news isn’t all good – some countries, particularly those in sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa, and the Middle East, have seen a decline in the average height in the last 30-40 years.

“This confirms we urgently need to address children and adolescents’ environment and nutrition on a global scale, and ensure we’re giving the world’s children the best possible start in life,” said Ezzati.

The study gives an interesting insight into how we have changed over the last 100 years – a time before teenager was a word, over half the US population lived in rural areas, and modern medicine was just getting off the ground.

“This is a unique analysis that shows the real power of combining a hundred years of population data sources that span the globe,” said Mary De Silva from the Wellcome Trust, who wasn’t involved in the study.

“The most striking finding is that despite the huge increases in height seen in some countries, there is still a considerable gap between the shortest and tallest countries. More research is needed to understand the reasons for this gap and to help devise ways of reducing the disparities in health that still persist globally.”

The study was published in eLife.

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A classic formula for pi has been discovered hidden in hydrogen atoms http://gyanvigyanprasar.com/2016/06/blog-post_492.html http://gyanvigyanprasar.com/2016/06/blog-post_492.html#respond Mon, 13 Jun 2016 10:22:12 +0000 http://gyanvigyanprasar.com/?p=492 For the first time, scientists have discovered a classic formula for pi in the world of quantum physics. Pi is the ratio between a circle’s circumference and its diameter, and is incredibly important in pure mathematics, but now scientists have also found it “lurking” in the world of physics, when using quantum mechanics to compare …

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For the first time, scientists have discovered a classic formula for pi in the world of quantum physics. Pi is the ratio between a circle’s circumference and its diameter, and is incredibly important in pure mathematics, but now scientists have also found it “lurking” in the world of physics, when using quantum mechanics to compare the energy levels of a hydrogen atom.

Why is that exciting? Well, it reveals an incredibly special and previously unknown connection between quantum physics and maths.

“I find it fascinating that a purely mathematical formula from the 17th century characterises a physical system that was discovered 300 years later,” said one of the lead researchers, Tamar Friedmann, a mathematician at the University of Rochester in the US. Seriously, wow.

The discovery was made when Carl Hagen, a particle physicist at the University of Rochester, was teaching a class on quantum mechanics and explaining to his students how to use a quantum mechanical technique known as the ‘variation principle’ to approximate the energy states of a hydrogen atom.

While comparing these values to conventional calculations, he noticed an unusual trend in the ratios. He asked Friedmann to help him work out this trend, and they quickly realised that it was actually a manifestation of the Wallis formula for pi – the first time it had even been derived from physics.

“We weren’t looking for the Wallis formula for pi. It just fell into our laps,” said Hagen. “It was a complete surprise,” added Friedmann. “I jumped up and down when we got the Wallis formula out of equations for the hydrogen atom.”

Since 1655 there have been plenty of proofs of Wallis’s formula, but all have come from the world of mathematics, and the new results have people freaking out. The results have been published in the Journal of Mathematical Physics.

You can see two pages from Wallis’s book Arithmetica Infinitorum below:A classic formula for pi has been discovered hidden in hydrogen atoms – ScienceAlert

102980 webDigitised by Google

“This almost seems like magic,” writes maths contributor Kevin Knudson for Forbes. “That a formula for π is hidden inside the quantum mechanics of the hydrogen atom is surprising and delightful.”

“Nature had kept this secret for the last 80 years,” said Friedmann. “I’m glad we revealed it.”

We just can’t help but wonder what other secret connections are lurking between quantum mechanics and pure mathematics.

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क्वांतम की सच्चाई, truth as per Quantum mechanics http://gyanvigyanprasar.com/2016/06/blog-post_369.html http://gyanvigyanprasar.com/2016/06/blog-post_369.html#respond Wed, 01 Jun 2016 07:13:35 +0000 http://gyanvigyanprasar.com/?p=369 Reality doesn’t exist until we measure it, quantum experiment confirms Mind = blown. FIONA MACDONALD 1 JUN 2015 230.4k Australian scientists have recreated a famous experiment and confirmed quantum physics’s bizarre predictions about the nature of reality, by proving that reality doesn’t actually exist until we measure it – at least, not on the very …

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Reality doesn’t exist until we measure it, quantum experiment confirms

Mind = blown.

FIONA MACDONALD
1 JUN 2015

Australian scientists have recreated a famous experiment and confirmed quantum physics’s bizarre predictions about the nature of reality, by proving that reality doesn’t actually exist until we measure it – at least, not on the very small scale.

That all sounds a little mind-meltingly complex, but the experiment poses a pretty simple question: if you have an object that can either act like a particle or a wave, at what point does that object ‘decide’?

Our general logic would assume that the object is either wave-like or particle-like by its very nature, and our measurements will have nothing to do with the answer. But quantum theory predicts that the result all depends on how the object is measured at the end of its journey. And that’s exactly what a team from the Australian National University has now found.

“It proves that measurement is everything. At the quantum level, reality does not exist if you are not looking at it,” lead researcher and physicist Andrew Truscott said in a press release.

Known as John Wheeler’s delayed-choice thought experiment, the experiment was first proposed back in 1978 using light beams bounced by mirrors, but back then, the technology needed was pretty much impossible. Now, almost 40 years later, the Australian team has managed to recreate the experiment using helium atoms scattered by laser light.

“Quantum physics predictions about interference seem odd enough when applied to light, which seems more like a wave, but to have done the experiment with atoms, which are complicated things that have mass and interact with electric fields and so on, adds to the weirdness,” said Roman Khakimov, a PhD student who worked on the experiment.

To successfully recreate the experiment, the team trapped a bunch of helium atoms in a suspended state known as a Bose-Einstein condensate, and then ejected them all until there was only a single atom left.

This chosen atom was then dropped through a pair of laser beams, which made a grating pattern that acted as a crossroads that would scatter the path of the atom, much like a solid grating would scatter light.

They then randomly added a second grating that recombined the paths, but only after the atom had already passed the first grating.

When this second grating was added, it led to constructive or destructive interference, which is what you’d expect if the atom had travelled both paths, like a wave would. But when the second grating was not added, no interference was observed, as if the atom chose only one path.

The fact that this second grating was only added after the atom passed through the first crossroads suggests that the atom hadn’t yet determined its nature before being measured a second time.

So if you believe that the atom did take a particular path or paths at the first crossroad, this means that a future measurement was affecting the atom’s path, explained Truscott. “The atoms did not travel from A to B. It was only when they were measured at the end of the journey that their wave-like or particle-like behaviour was brought into existence,” he said.

Although this all sounds incredibly weird, it’s actually just a validation for the quantum theory that already governs the world of the very small. Using this theory, we’ve managed to develop things like LEDs, lasers and computer chips, but up until now, it’s been hard to confirm that it actually works with a lovely, pure demonstration such as this one.

The full results have been published in Nature Physics.

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