Friday, January 16, 2015

Physicists debate quantum math

Wojciech Zurek, LANL image

A leading quantum theorist, Wojciech Zurek of the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, isn’t ready to jump on the ontic bandwagon.

“I don’t think the [quantum] state is either epistemic or ontic,” he said at an IBM workshop. “For the record, the state is definitely epi-ontic.”

Zurek pointed out that quantum states do not exist in the same sense that ordinary classical states exist. For classical states, information about the state can be recorded, copied and shared. A quantum system can be prepared in a known state, but an unknown quantum state can’t be examined or copied without destroying it. (Full Story)

Asteroid set for near miss

Illustration from Express

Plans produced by a leading atomic research centre in America have revealed that if asteroids were to fly dangerously close to us, nuclear weapons could be used to destroy or deflect them.

In documents developed by Los Alamos atomic weapons centre in New Mexico, nuclear missiles are cited as our only defence against the growing threat of meteors and asteroids.

Los Alamos' Robert Weaver in an abstract submitted to the AGU's annual meeting said: "The goal is to study the effectiveness of using a nuclear explosive to alter the orbit or destroy a potentially harmful object." (Full Story)

In search of pristine aerosols

Pathways of natural and human-produced aerosols from the marine environment, Scripps illustration                 

A new study considers how pure a key force in climate really is. Contributors to the study include Lynn Russell and Amanda Frossard of Scripps, Scott Elliott of Los Alamos National Laboratory, and several others.

Aerosols such as dust, sea salt particles, bits of organic material, and even pollutants are what allows water vapor to congeal into clouds and the mix of aerosols in the sky helps determine what kinds of clouds form. (Full Story)

The real threat from North Korea

Former Laboratory Director Sig Hecker, LANL photo           

During my first visit to North Korea in January 2004, North Korean officials were eager to show my Stanford University colleagues and me the plutonium bomb fuel they produced following a diplomatic breakdown with the George W. Bush administration. Four years ago, during my seventh visit to the country and two years into the Obama administration, they surprised us with a tour through an ultra-modern centrifuge facility, demonstrating that they were capable of producing highly enriched uranium, the alternate route to the bomb. (Full Story)

Hands-on science fun for all ages

Jane Clements, a Bradbury Museum guide shows Eli Carrasco, 5, how to create slides with water samples from the area, then examines the slides through a microscope.

The Bradbury Science Museum hosts the “Scientist in the Spotlight” series every second Saturday of the month. The informal conversations led by scientists and other professionals are hands-on and interactive with kids of all ages and adults. (Full Story)

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