Friday, September 07, 2007

Blah, blah, quantum entanglement, yawn, hacking reality, zzzzz

I'm almost caught up with modern physics, but it's taken a toll.

It's started my reading a few months ago when I realized I'd fallen hopelessly out of date, but I'm now only a few chapters from finishing Greenes latest tome. Alas, between Gribbin and Greenes, I'm a broken man. Modern physics is so consistently and cumulatively weird that a steady diet has eliminated my critical capacity. No wonder science fiction writers feel beaten down -- no work of fiction can be as mind-bending as today's physics. It's enough to make the idea that we're all living in a simulation seem comforting by comparison.

Which is to say that latest proof that the universe is every bit as weird as predicted is a bit of a yawner ...
'Spooky' science points to quantum internet - Internet -

Physicists at the University of Michigan have demonstrated how two separate atoms can communicate with a sort of 'quantum intuition' ...

The scientists used light to establish an "entanglement" between two atoms, which were trapped one metre apart in separate enclosures...

... David Moehring, the lead author of the paper who performed the research as a University of Michigan graduate student, explained that the most important aspect of the experiment is the distance between the two atoms.

"The separation of the quantum bits [qubits] in our entangled state is the most important feature," he said.

"Localised entanglement has been performed in ion trap qubits in the past, but to build a scalable quantum computer network (or a quantum internet) the creation of entanglement schemes between remotely entangled qubit memories is necessary."

The researchers used two atoms to function as qubits storing a piece of information in their electron configuration. They then excited each atom, inducing electrons to fall into a lower energy state and emit one photon, or one particle of light, in the process.

The atoms, which were actually ions of the rare-earth element ytterbium, are capable of emitting two different types of photons of different wavelengths.

The type of photon released by each atom indicates the particular state of the atom. Because of this, each photon was entangled with its atom.

By manipulating the photons emitted from each of the two atoms and guiding them to interact along a fibre-optic thread, the researchers were able to detect the resulting photon clicks and entangle the atoms.

Professor Monroe explained that the fibre-optic thread was necessary to establish entanglement of the atoms. But the fibre could be severed and the two atoms would remain entangled, even if one were "carefully taken to Jupiter"...
I wasn't being entirely supercilious. My reading suggests this is a perfectly prosaic result, indeed anything different would have been shocking. The reason the paper was published is because of the experimental genius required, and perhaps because it suggests new ways to build a quantum computer.

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