Thursday, April 27, 2006

Scientific breakthrough a step toward quantum computing

"Light is the solution. It's also the problem. That's the paradox HP Labs' Quantum Information Processing Group is beginning to unravel with its research into optical quantum computing. The group has been investigating ways to use photons, or light particles, for information processing, rather than the electrons used in digital electronic computers today. Their work holds promise for someday developing faster, more powerful and more secure computer networks."

The HP Team includes Bill Munroe and Kae Nemoto - who were both working at UQ when I was a student there. It's always great to see people I know in the news.


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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Code for ‘Unbreakable’ Quantum Encryption Generated at Record Speed over Fiber

Gaithersburg, Md.—Raw code for “unbreakable” encryption, based on the principles of quantum physics, has been generated at record speed over optical fiber at the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The work, reported today at the SPIE Defense & Security Symposium in Orlando, Fla., is a step toward using conventional high-speed networks such as broadband Internet and local-area networks to transmit ultra-secure video for applications such as surveillance.

The NIST quantum key distribution (QKD) system uses single photons, the smallest particles of light, in different orientations to produce a continuous binary code, or "key," for encrypting information. The rules of quantum mechanics ensure that anyone intercepting the key is detected, thus providing highly secure key exchange. The laboratory system produced this “raw” key at a rate of more than 4 million bits per second (4 million bps) over 1 kilometer (km) of optical fiber, twice the speed of NIST’s previous record, reported just last month. The system also worked successfully, although more slowly, over 4 km of fiber.


Catalyst: Light Pipes - ABC TV Science

Light Pipes

6 April 2006 Funnelling daylight deep inside offices, factories and even homes is a challenge; dark corners are often too far away from the outside world for sunlight to penetrate. Now two resourceful groups in Brisbane and Sydney have devised ingenious methods for piping sunlight almost anywhere in a building, replacing the need for electrical lighting. These revolutionary inventions could save energy and reduce CO2 emissions, all courtesy of the sun


Physics could be a secret weapon in tennis. 25/04/2006. ABC News Online

A US researcher says the number of stupid mistakes made playing on the tennis court can be reduced by applying the laws of physics.

Professor Howard Brody of the University of Pennsylvania shows knowledge of the laws of matter and motion can lift a player's game in one of three main ways.

It can cut errors of latitude (hitting the ball wide), depth (hitting the net) and force (hitting the ball too hard), Professor Brody says in the current issue of the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Australian Associate Professor of Physics Rod Cross of the University of Sydney has written a book on the science of tennis with Professor Brody.

He says physics can more accurately describe what happens when a player hits a ball than the player is aware of.

"The idea is that a physicist can tell a coach what the player's supposed to be doing and why, and the coach can translate that to a player," Professor Cross said.

"I tried it myself. I phoned up [professional tennis player] Jelena Dokic and told her she wasn't serving properly - she didn't hang up straight away."

Read more at News - The Showgirl, the Comic Strip and the Physicists

The Showgirl, the Comic Strip and the Physicists

Monday 24 April 2006

Cross-dressing singers and The Beano are not the sorts of topics you'd expect to hear discussed at a physics conference. But that's exactly what will happen at the Institute of Physics in London on Monday 24 and Tuesday 25 April when the latest methods of conserving and digitising photographs and artworks will be described.

The two-day meeting on “Preservation and Conservation Issues Related to Digital Printing and Digital Photography” will bring together physicists, conservators and chemists from museums, universities and photographic companies. Participants will hear about the latest research into the longevity of digital prints and storage methods, which we are all increasingly using to document the important events in our lives, as well as the rise of digital reproductions of fine art, and what should be considered “an original”.


Sunday, April 23, 2006

Latest PhysicsWeb Summaries


Veneto Nanotech Launches the 2nd Edition of Nanochallenge Enter your
nanotechnology business plan to Nanochallenge 2006 and you could win the
grand prize of Euro 300,000. The competition seeks commercially viable
business plans for innovative start-ups to produce and commercialize
products and services in the nanotechnology industry. Find out more at



General relativity reveals its secrets (Apr 19)
Einstein's general theory of relativity might be over 90 years old, but
it is only recently that many of its implications can be explored thanks
to advances in computing power. This is because its complex nonlinear
equations -- which describe how space--time is curved by matter and
therefore how matter moves in a gravitational field -- cannot be solved
exactly, even for the simplest situations.

Metals protect Milky Way from gamma-ray bursts (Apr 20)
Do you lie awake at night worrying that life on Earth might one day be
destroyed by a blast of gamma radiation from space? Then don't, because
a team of astronomers in the US has calculated that the probability of
such an event occurring in our galaxy is virtually zero. Krzysztof
Stanek and colleagues at Ohio State University say that gamma-ray bursts
-- the most powerful explosions in the universe after the big bang --
only tend to occur in small, misshapen "metal-poor" galaxies. Our Milky
Way is safe since it is a large spiral galaxy that contains lots of
heavy elements (astro-ph/0604113).

Google unearths physics gems (Apr 21)
Google could be a good way of measuring the "impact" of a particular
scientific paper and might even be used to replace traditional citation
indices, according to a new statistical analysis by physicists in the
US. The researchers have found that the Google PageRank algorithm, which
measures the relative importance of Web pages, can provide a systematic
way to find important papers. The technique also uncovers scientific
"gems" -- top papers overlooked by conventional searches

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


The American Institute of Physics Bulletin of Physics News
Number 774 April 19, 2006 by Phillip F. Schewe, Ben Stein, and
Davide Castelvecchi

shown up in comparisons of the spectra of hydrogen gas as recorded
in a lab with spectra of light coming from hydrogen clouds at the
distance of quasars. This is another of those tests of so-called
physical constants that might not be absolutely constant. For
example, the steadiness of the fine structure constant (denoted by
the letter alpha), defined as the square of the electron's charge
divided by the speed of light times Planck's constant, has been in
dispute ( ). Some
tests say it's changing, others say it isn't. This is an
issue since alpha sets the overall strength of the electromagnetic
force, the force that holds atoms together. Similarly, the
proton-to-electron mass ratio (denoted by the letter mu) figures in
setting the scale of the strong nuclear force. There is at present
no explanation why the proton's mass should be 1836 times that of
the electron's. The new search for a varying mu was carried out by
Wim Ubachs of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. He and his
colleagues approach their task by studying hydrogen gas in the lab,
performing ultra-high-resolution spectroscopy in the
difficult-to-access extreme-ultraviolet range. This data is compared
to accurate observations of absorption spectra of distant hydrogen
(which absorbs light from even more distant quasars) as recorded
with the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in Chile. The
astronomical hydrogen is essentially hydrogen as it was 12 billion
years ago, so one can seek hints of a changing value for mu. Why
the comparison? Because the position of a particular spectral line
depends on the value of mu; locate the spectral line accurately
(that is, its wavelength) and you can infer a value for mu. In
this way, the researchers report that they see evidence that mu has
decreased by 0.002% over those 12 billion years. According to Ubachs
(, ), the statistical confidence
of his spectroscopic comparison is at the level of 3.5 standard
deviations. (Reinhold et al., Physical Review Letters, 21 April
2006, laser website at )

NUCLEAR QUANTUM OPTICS. Normally the atomic realm, characterized by
an energy scale of electron volts or less, is very much removed from
the nuclear realm, where energy levels are measured in thousands and
millions of eV. Some laser interactions in nuclei can be achieved
indirectly by using light to create plasmas, whose secondary
particles either interact with nuclei or, in a tertiary step,
produce gamma rays which then influence nuclear states. Scientists
at the Max-Planck-Institut fur Kernphysik have now studied how
present and future x-ray laser facilities will make possible direct
laser intervention in the nucleus and how this will open up a new
branch of quantum optics. X-ray sources such as the TESLA device at
the DESY lab in Hamburg will not only deliver high-intensity,
high-energy beams but will, at least partially, consist of coherent
(laserlike) radiation. One doesn't need coherent light to excite a
nucleus, but coherence can be important in exercising greater
control over optical phenomena analogous to those in atomic
systems. Examples include exciting a complete population inversion
of the target nuclei or even producing some kind of nuclear
"electromagnetically induced transparency." One of the
Thomas Burvenich (, says that an
additional benefit of nuclear quantum optics will be the direct
measurement of specific nuclear facts, such as nuclear dipole
moments and the energy levels of nuclei. (Burvenich et al.,
Physical Review Letters, 14 April 2006; lab website at )

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Latest PhysicsWeb Summaries


Veneto Nanotech Launches the 2nd Edition of Nanochallenge Enter your
nanotechnology business plan to Nanochallenge 2006 and you could win the
grand prize of Euro 300,000. The competition seeks commercially viable
business plans for innovative start-ups to produce and commercialize
products and services in the nanotechnology industry. Find out more at



Physics goes to the movies (Apr 11)
The popularity of a particular film largely depends on word-of-mouth
recommendations according to a new study by statistical physicists in
the US and Chile. César Hidalgo of the University of Notre Dame and
colleagues have also developed a quantitative indicator of a film's
quality, which they say could be used by film producers and studios to
estimate the commercial value of a movie (New J. Phys. 8 52).

Fermilab probes matter-antimatter transitions (Apr 12)
The international CDF collaboration at Fermilab has made the most
precise measurement to date of the extremely rapid transitions between
matter and antimatter. The experiment has found that certain B mesons
spontaneously turn into their own antiparticle equivalents -- anti-B
mesons -- and back again at a rate of three trillion times per second.
The result agrees well with the Standard Model of particle physics and
confirms yet again the existence of CP violation -- the reason why there
is more matter than antimatter in the universe.

Putting equilibrium on hold (Apr 13)
Physicists in the US have made the first gas that never reaches
equilibrium. David Weiss and colleagues at Penn State University
performed their experiment with a one-dimensional Bose gas of ultracold
rubidium atoms. According to the team, the gas behaves like a "quantum
Newton's cradle" -- the atomic equivalent of the popular desk toy that
has five steel balls suspended from strings in a straight line. The work
could help us better understand the behaviour of many-particle systems
and even be used in practical applications like ultrasenstive force
detectors (Nature 440 900).


Wednesday, April 12, 2006


The American Institute of Physics Bulletin of Physics News
Number 773 April 12, 2006 by Phillip F. Schewe, Ben Stein, and
Davide Castelvecchi

SHARPER FOCUSING OF HARD X RAYS has been achieved with a device
developed at Argonne National Lab. Because of their high energy, x
rays are hard to focus: they can be reflected from a surface but
only at a glancing angle (less than a tenth of a degree); they can
refracted but the index of refraction is very close to 1, so that
making efficient lenses becomes a problem; and they can be
diffracted, but the thick, variable pitch grating required for
focusing is tricky to achieve. The Argonne device is of the
diffraction type, and it consists of a stack of alternating layers
of metal and silicon, made by depositing progressively thicker
layers (see figure at ). When
the x rays fall on such a structure, nearly edge-on, what they see
is a grating pattern (called a linear zone plate) consisting of a
sort of bar-code pattern. The Argonne device succeeds so well in
focusing x rays because the position of the zones can be controlled
to within nanometer tolerances through the deposition process, and
the depth of the zones that the x rays experience can be made
arbitrarily long---microns long---by merely cutting a thicker
section of the multilayer wafer. In tests so far, one of these zone
plates, very slightly tilted to the x rays coming out of a
synchrotron source, has focused 20-keV x rays to a line only 30 nm
wide, better than previously possible. According to Argonne
researcher Brian Stephenson (, 630-252-3214), an
ideal version of this kind of x-ray lens, which they call a
Multilayer Laue Lens (MLL), should be able to focus x rays to a spot
of 1 nm or less. The likely uses for a better x-ray lens are in
full-field microscopy (making a magnified x-ray image of a sample)
or in scanning probe microscopy (by scanning the beam across a
sample). (Kang et al., Physical Review Letters, 31 March 2006)

absorbing photons from a laser, an atom can be excited to any of
various discrete energy levels allowed by quantum mechanics. What
about artificial atoms? A quantum dot, created by the same
lithographic methods used to prepare electronic chips, is nearly a
zero-dimensional zone of semiconducting material; as with electrons
inside atoms, electrons inside the confinement of a quantum dot will
also possess only a restricted menu of allowed energies. The same
is true for a pair of quantum dots 200 nm apart; with just the right
voltage applied, electrons can tunnel from one dot to the other. In
fact, an electron, considered as a spread-out quantum wave
phenomenon, can be considered to reside in both dots at the same
time, a property which makes the quantum-dot "molecule"
useful for carrying out quantum computing operations.
Now, a group of scientists have been able to probe, and to change,
the quantum energy states of a double quantum dot with sound waves,
or more particularly surface acoustic waves excited in the substrate
supporting the dots. The acoustic waves, less than1 nm in
amplitude, ripple through the surface for distances as long as
hundreds of microns as a sort of nano-earthquake, are created
through the process of piezoelectricity; a small voltage is sent
into a series of tiny electrodes painted onto the surface. This
excites the faint acoustic waves (see figure at ). The acoustic-dot
arrangement, mediated by the delicate interactions between electrons
and phonons, can work in both directions: the quantum dots can be
used to monitor the acoustic waves (which, because of their tiny
energy, are otherwise difficult to detect) or the acoustic waves can
be used to interrogate the electronic status of the dots, which
makes possible the aforesaid quantum-information applications. The
researchers involved work at the University of Twente and the Delft
University of Technology (Netherlands), NTT Corporation, Tokyo
Institute of Technology, and University of Tokyo (Japan), and Jilin
University (China). (Naber et al., Physical Review Letters, April 7
2006; contact Wouter Naber,

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Latest PhysicsWeb Summaries


Veneto Nanotech Launches the 2nd Edition of Nanochallenge Enter your
nanotechnology business plan to Nanochallenge 2006 and you could win the
grand prize of Euro 300,000. The competition seeks commercially viable
business plans for innovative start-ups to produce and commercialize
products and services in the nanotechnology industry. Find out more at



Solitons show up in uranium (Apr 4)
Scientists have observed highly localized solitary vibrations, or
solitons, in a three-dimensional solid for the first time. The solitons
exist in crystals of uranium heated to temperatures of 450K. Although
they were predicted to exist in 3D solids some 20 years ago, conclusive
evidence for them has never been obtained until now (Phys. Rev. Lett. 96

A new look for bifocals (Apr 5)
Do you wear bifocal spectacles and get frustrated at having to move your
gaze between the upper and lower lenses as you switch from far to near
vision? If so, help could soon be at hand thanks to a new lens developed
by optical scientists in the US. It consists of a layer of liquid
crystal sandwiched between two glass surfaces, the focusing power of
which can be changed by altering the voltage applied to the lens.
Although the lens has to be manually switched on and off to change
focus, the researchers say the work could lead to lenses that
automatically adjust their focus depending on where the user is looking
(Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. to be published).

Spray-on silicon makes its debut (Apr 7)
Researchers in Japan have unveiled a new way to make silicon-based
microelectronic devices. The method involves depositing silicon directly
onto a substrate from solution and overcomes some of the problems
associated with traditional silicon-processing lithographic techniques,
such as using sophisticated clean rooms and expensive vacuum equipment.
The researchers say the technique could lead to a way of making large,
flexible displays using "ink-jet" technology (Nature 440 783).

Water drops bounce into action (Apr 7)
What happens if you let a drop of water fall gently onto a
water-repelling surface? Physicists in France and the Netherlands who
tried the experiment were surprised by what they saw. They found that a
violent, ultra-fine jet of water emerges from the drop, moving at up to
40 times the drop's initial impact speed. The researchers believe the
unusual behaviour is caused by the collapse of an air cavity that is
created when the drop deforms as it hits the surface. The finding could
have a bearing on industrial applications in which liquids are coated on
to surfaces, such as insecticides being sprayed onto crops or in ink-jet
printing (Phys. Rev. Lett. 96 124501).

Monday, April 10, 2006

Fossil Called Missing Link From Sea to Land Animals - New York Times

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"Scientists have discovered fossils of a 375-million-year-old fish, a large scaly creature not seen before, that they say is a long-sought missing link in the evolution of some fishes from water to a life walking on four limbs on land.

In two reports today in the journal Nature, a team of scientists led by Neil H. Shubin of the University of Chicago say they have uncovered several well-preserved skeletons of the fossil fish in sediments of former streambeds in the Canadian Arctic, 600 miles from the North Pole.The skeletons have the fins, scales and other attributes of a giant fish, four to nine feet long. But on closer examination, the scientists found telling anatomical traits of a transitional creature, a fish that is still a fish but has changes that anticipate the emergence of land animals — and is thus a predecessor of amphibians, reptiles and dinosaurs, mammals and eventually humans.

In the fishes' forward fins, the scientists found evidence of limbs in the making. There are the beginnings of digits, proto-wrists, elbows and shoulders. The fish also had a flat skull resembling a crocodile's, a neck, ribs and other parts that were similar to four-legged land animals known as tetrapods."

There cna be no argument that this is a transitional fossil - removing one of the arguments used by anti-scientific "creationists." This article, by John Noble Wilford, is a commendable piece of science journalism - rather than trying to "find the other side" of evolution, he presents the evidence that exists. As Larry Krauss has recently stated, there is no other side to evolution.

Read more at (free registration required)

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Liquid Flowing Uphill to Cool Chips, Entangled Photon Holes, Sunlight from LED

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LIQUID FLOWING UPHILL; MIGHT BE USED TO COOL CHIPS. In a phenomenon known as the "Leidenfrost effect," water droplets can perform a dance in which they glide in random directions on a cushion of vapor that forms between the droplets and a hot surface. Now, a US-Australia collaboration (Heiner Linke, University of Oregon, shows that these droplets can be steered in a selected direction by placing them on a sawtooth-shaped surface.
Heating the surface to temperatures above the boiling point of water creates a cushion of vapor on which the droplet floats. The researchers think that the jagged sawtooth surface, acting as a sort of ratchet, redirects the flow of vapor, creating a force that moves the droplet in a preferred direction. The droplets travel rapidly over distances of up to a meter and can even be made to move up inclines. This striking method for pumping a liquid occurs for many different liquids (including nitrogen, acetone, methanol, ethanol and water) over a wide temperature range (from - 196 to + 151 C).
A practical application of this phenomenon might be to cool off hot computer processors. In a concept the researchers plan to test, waste heat in a computer would activate a pump moving a stream of liquid past the processor to cool it off. Such a pump for coolants would need no additional power, have no moving parts, and would spring into action only when needed, when the processor gets warm. (Linke et al., Physical Review Letters, upcoming;)

ENTANGLED PHOTON HOLES. In some semiconductor devices, such as light-emitting diodes, an applied voltage can dislodge electrons from some atoms, leaving behind a hole which behaves in some situations as if it were a positively charged particle in its own right. A "current" of holes can move through the material and the holes can recombine later with electrons to produce light. In very loose analogy, James Franson (Johns Hopkins) suggests that photonic holes might be created; a photon hole, to give one example, would be a place in an otherwise intense laser-beam wavefront where a photon had been removed (by passing the laser beam through vapor, forinstance). Not only can there be photon holes, Franson (443-778-6226, suggests, but the holes can be entangled, meaning that their quantum properties would be correlated, even if far apart from each other. Such entangled photon-holes would be able to propagate through optical fibers just as well as entangled photons, but might be even more robust against the decoherence (the undoing of the quantum correlations) that plagues present efforts to establish quantum information schemes.

Franson expects to do put his idea to experimental test in the next few months. (Physical Review Letters, 10 March 2006)

SUNLIGHT ON A CHIP. A new LED design employs a handy combination of light and phosphors to produce light whose color spectrum is not so different from that of sunlight. Light emitting diodes (LEDs) convert electricity into light very efficiently, and are increasingly the preferred design for niche applications like traffic and automobile brake lights. To really make an impression in the lighting world, however, a device must be able to produce room light. And to do this one needs a softer, whiter, more color balanced illumination. The advent of blue-light LEDs, used in conjunction with red and green LEDs, helped a lot. But producing LED light efficiently at blue, red, and yellow wavelengths is still relatively expensive, and an alternative approach is to use phosphors to artificially achieve the desired balance, by turning blue into yellow light. Scientists at the National Institute for Materials Science and at the Sharp Corporation (in Japan) have now achieved a highly efficient, tunable white light with an improved yellow-producing phosphor. Their light yield is 55 lumens per watt, about twice as bright as commercially available products operating in the same degree of whiteness. (Xie et al., Applied Physics Letters, 6 March 2006; contact Rong-Jun Xie,


The American Institute of Physics Bulletin of Physics News
Number 772 April 5, 2006 by Phillip F. Schewe, Ben Stein, and
Davide Castelvecchi

NASA - Magnetic Moondust

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Thirty-plus years ago on the moon, Apollo astronauts made an important discovery: Moondust can be a major nuisance. The fine powdery grit was everywhere and had a curious way of getting into things. Moondust plugged bolt holes, fouled tools, coated astronauts' visors and abraded their gloves. Very often while working on the surface, they had to stop what they were doing to clean their cameras and equipment using large--and mostly ineffective--brushes.

Dealing with "the dust problem" is going to be a priority for the next generation of NASA explorers. But how? Professor Larry Taylor, director of the Planetary Geosciences Institute at the University of Tennessee, believes he has an answer: "Magnets".


Thursday, April 06, 2006

Black Bodies and Quantum Cats - Jennifer Ouellette talks to NPR about her new physics book

Weekend Edition Sunday, April 2, 2006 · Jennifer Ouellette is a self-described "physics phobe" who couldn't tell a quark from a cathode ray. But after successfully avoiding the subject for more than 25 years, she stumbled into science writing as a freelance journalist. That led her to explore the fundamentals of physics from a cultural and historical perspective.

Ouellette's new book is Black Bodies and Quantum Cats, subtitled "Tales from the Annals of Physics." The author tells Liane Hansen she hopes readers will see that physics is more than a cold, hard discipline: it has emotional content

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Black Hole Merger Movie and A Submersible Holographic Microscope

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BLACK HOLE MERGER MOVIE.  Accurate calculations of the gravitational waveforms emitted during the collision of black holes can now be made.  A new computer study of how a pair of black holes, circling each other,  disturbs the surrounding space and sends huge gusts of
gravitational waves outwards, should greatly benefit the experimental search for those waves with detectors like LIGO and LISA. The relative difficulty of computer modeling of complicated physical behavior depends partly on the system in question and on the equations that describe the forces at work. To describe the complicated configuration of charges and currents, one uses Maxwell's equations to determine the forces at work. In the case of black-hole binaries, the equations are those from Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity. Black holes encapsulate the ultimate in gravitational forces, and this presents difficulties for
computations attempting to model behavior nearby. Nevertheless, some physicists at the University of Texas at Brownsville have now derived an algorithm that not only produces accurate estimates of the gravity waves of the inspiraling black holes, even over the short time intervals leading up to the final merger, but also is
easily implemented on computers (see figures and movie at ). "The importance of this work," says
Carlos Lousto, one of the authors of the new study, "is that it gives an accurate prediction to the gravitational wave observatories, such as LIGO, of what they are going to observe." The new results are part of a larger study of numerical relativity carried out at the University of Texas, work referred to as the
Lazarus Project ( ).
(Campanelli, Lousto, Marronetti, and Zlochower; Physical Review Letters, 24 March 2006; contact information,, 956-882-6651)

A SUBMERSIBLE HOLOGRAPHIC MICROSCOPE. A new device allows scientists to form 3D images of tiny marine organisms at depths as great as 100 m. The device allows the recording of behavioral characteristics of zooplankton and other marine organisms in their natural environment without having to bring specimens to the surface for examination. Scientists at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, used the hologram arrangement originally invented by Denis Gabor: light from a laser is focused on a pinhole that acts as a point source of light if the size of the hole is comparable to the wavelength of light. The spherical waves that emanate from the
pinhole illuminate a sample of sea water. Waves scattered by objects in the sea water then combine at the chip of a CCD camera with un-scattered waves (the reference wave) from the pin hole to form a digitized interference pattern or hologram. The digital holograms are then sent to a computer where they are digitally
reconstructed with specially developed software to provide images of the objects. The Dalhousie researchers packaged their holography apparatus in such a way that the laser and digital camera parts are in separate watertight containers, while the object plane is left open (see figure at ). One
difficulty was to get container windows of optical quality that are thin enough for high resolution imaging but thick enough to resist sea pressure. The new submersible microscope can also record the trajectories of organisms in the sample volume so that movies of the swimming characteristics of micron size marine organisms can easily be produced. Holograms with1024 x 1024 pixels can be recorded at 7
to 10 frames/s. This requires a large bandwidth for data transmission to a surface vessel and was accomplished with water tight Ethernet cables. Imaging volumes can be several cubic centimeters depending on the desired resolution. The Gabor geometry
allowed the Dalhousie researchers to design a very simple instrument capable of wavelength limited resolution of marine organisms in their natural environment. Past generations of submersible holographic microscopes had lower resolution, weighed several tons, had to be deployed from large ships, and used high-resolution film
as the hologram recording medium. This meant that only a small number of holograms could be recorded. In contrast, the Dalhousie instrument only weighs 20 kg, can be deployed from small boats or even pleasure vessels, and can record thousands of holograms in a few minutes so that the motion of aquatic organisms can be captured
in detail. (Jericho et al., Review of Scientific Instruments, upcoming article; contact M.H. Jericho, Dalhousie University,, and also the Universidad Nacional de Columbia)

The American Institute of Physics Bulletin of Physics News
Number 771 March 29, 2006 by Phillip F. Schewe, Ben Stein, and
Davide Castelvecchi


March 30, 2006
a biweekly tip sheet for journalists from the National Institute of Standards and Technology

Quantum Dot Method Rapidly Identifies Bacteria
A rapid method for detecting and identifying very small numbers of diverse bacteria, from anthrax to E. coli, has been developed by scientists from the National Cancer Institute and NIST. Described in the March 28 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the work could lead to the development of handheld devices for accelerated identification of biological weapons and antibiotic-resistant or virulent strains of bacteria­-situations where speed is essential.

RFID Tags to Assist in Tracking First Responders
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology has been around for many years and is widely used to identify, track and communicate information about items, products and even animals. An interdisciplinary team of NIST researchers is studying whether RFID technology can be used as a low cost, reliable means to track firefighters and other first responders inside buildings and help them navigate under hazardous conditions.

NIST/ORNL Dedicate New Nuclear Medicine Lab
NIST is establishing a satellite facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tenn., to promote measurement accuracy for nuclear medicine imaging. In a dedication ceremony at the new laboratory today (March 30), NIST Director William Jeffrey and ORNL Director Jeff Wadsworth described the program, which is a pilot test for a planned series of such sites around the country.

Quality Standards Issued For Testing Herbal Products
NIST has issued the first suite of Standard Reference Materials (SRMs) in a planned series of reference materials for botanical dietary supplements. Manufacturers can use these materials for quality control, and researchers can use them to ensure that their laboratory analyses of supplements are accurate.

Measuring Electrical Arcs At the Micrometer Scale
A new device and technique have been developed by NIST researchers for measuring “breakdown” voltage­-the voltage required to produce electrical arcs when electrodes are 400 nanometers to 45 micrometers apart. The advance could be useful in microelectronics, such as in the design of microelectro-mechanical systems (MEMS), in which arcing could cause device failure.

Bytes by the Quintillion For Today and Tomorrow
Engineers and information specialists from government, industry and academia agreed this month at a NIST workshop that immediate action is needed to keep vast amounts of digital knowledge from disappearing into cyberspace or becoming in 200, or even 20 years, as incomprehensible as the markings on Babylonian cuneiform tablets.

“March Madness” Effects Observed in Ultracold Gases
Physicists at Harvard University, George Mason University and NIST have discovered new quantum effects in ultracold gases that may lead to improved understanding of electrical conductivity in metals. In work presented at the March meeting of the American Physical Society in Baltimore, Md., the researchers calculated the properties of an “artificial crystal” of ultracold atoms in a lattice formed by intersecting laser beams.

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NIST Proposes Updating Digital Signature Standard

To keep current with changing technology, NIST is proposing several changes to the Digital Signature Standard (DSS). The draft Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 186-3 allows the use of 1024, 2048, and 3072-bit encryption keys.

Rescue Robots Test Skills At ‘Disaster City’ Event
Ground, aerial and aquatic emergency response robots from across the country will face real-life challenges April 4-6 in tests of their life-saving skills at Texas A&M University’s "Disaster City" in College Park, TX. The event, hosted by Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service and the local Federal Emergency Management Agency Task Force, is the second in a series of evaluation exercises conducted by NIST for urban search-and-rescue robots.

IT Meeting to Help Agencies With Security Assessments
NIST will host a workshop at its headquarters in Gaithersburg, Md., on April 26 to help federal agencies comply with FISMA (Federal Information Security Management Act) through the development of uniform requirements for security assessment service providers.

Chenok Set To Chair IT Security Advisory Board
NIST Director William Jeffrey has appointed Daniel J. Chenok, a prominent leader in the information technology industry, as the new chair of the Information Security and Privacy Advisory Board. The Board advises NIST on emerging managerial, technical, administration, and physical safeguard issues related to information security and privacy issues.

Collins Named to Head NIST Technology Services
Belinda L. Collins, an expert in both the technical and policy related aspects of standards development, has been promoted to director of NIST's Technology Services.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Virtual Swimmer to Speed Up Australia's Pool Times

Related Resources

Elsewhere on the Web
Physics of Swimming
The Physics of Sport

CSIRO and the Australian Institute of Sport are using mathematics in a bid to speed up our top swimmers by testing changes to swimming strokes.

The research will make use of the same software CSIRO uses for other fluid simulations such as animating water for movies and modelling volcanoes and tsunamis. Researchers are hoping to see some practical results in time to implement improvements for the London Olympics in 2012.

Read More at Virtual swimmer to speed up our athletes

Bullet-shaped scramjet put to the test

Elsewhere on the Web
UQ Press Release
Bullet-Shaped SCRAMjet put to the Test - ABC Space and Astromony News
Scramjet Clocks Nearly Mach 10

The HyShot team from UQ have tested a new version of their SCRAMjet engine (an engine designed to burn fuel passing through it at supersonic speeds). This test flight is believed to have reached speeds of Mach 7.

March 30th 2006: The HyShot™ IV experimental scramjet test has been conducted today at the Woomera range, 500km north of Adelaide, South Australia at about 1.10pm local time (CDT).

“The rocket launch looked as expected. We had another clean liftoff,” Associate Professor Michael Smart of the UQ HyShot team said.

Quantum Mechanics and Quantum Physics

In the words of Niels Bohr "anybody who thinks they understand quantum physics is wrong." Quantum mechanics describes how the very small particles like electrons and atoms behave in ways contrary to most intuition. Discover the weirdness of quantum mechanics and how it is changing the way we make computers and secret codes through quantum computing and cryptography. Learn about the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle and how it constrains how much we can know about a particle.

The 2005 Nobel Prize in Physics

The 2005 Nobel Prize in Physics is devoted to optics, with half of the prize going to Roy J. Glauber of Harvard University for his quantum theory of optical coherence, and one-quarter each going to John L. Hall and Theodor W. Hänsch, for their development of ultra-high-precision measurements of light.

1927 Solvay Conference Film
One of the most famous photos in the history of physics captures the illustrious participants at the fifth Solvay Conference in Brussels, October 1927. 29 physicists, the main quantum theorists of the day, came together, 17 of the 29 attendees were or became Nobel Prize winners. This is a home movie shot by Irving Langmuir, (1932 Nobel Prize winner). Twenty-one of the 29 attendees are on the film. The film includes shots of Erwin Schrödinger, Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Dirac and Niels Bohr.

The Quantum Computer
By exploiting the unusual properties of Quantum Physics, physicists hope to make a computer that is, in many ways, better and faster than any computer that can ever possibly be built using the techniques of “classical” electronics.

Visual Quantum Mechanics

Instructional units that introduce quantum physics to high school and college students who do not have a background in modern physics or higher level math using interactive computer programs and digital multimedia in an activity based environment

What is Quantum Physics
Brief description of Quantum Physics, from Jim Tucek.

New Scientist's Guide to The Quantum World
An general level summary of the basic concepts and latest developments in Quantum Mechanics and Quantum Physics, from New Scientist.

Quantum Physics Online Course
A Java based course in quantum mechanics and quantum phsyics suitable for intermediate undergraduate university students.

Bell's theorem and Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen Paradox FAQ
Bell's Theorem and the EPR paradox have important ramifications on possible communication faster than the speed of light. An introduction to the problem of measurement of quantum entangled particles from the Usenet newsgroups.

Bell Experiment with Independent Observers
An excellent description of experimental investigations of Bell's theorem, which investigate fundamental philosophical issues of Quantum Physics