1. Entanglement describes the liminal relationship between two quantum particles that exist in “superposition,” a mix of states that can only be resolved when a physical property is measured. Think of the transporter in Star Trek: When someone is transported to another location they are technically in two places — and two quantum states — at once until their pattern is completed. Scientists have actually transported data using entanglement over 89 miles. Another way to phrase it is: “measuring a property of one particle instantly determines the property of another,” and before that measurement is taken the particle exists in all states at once.

2. Superposition refers to the state in which two quantum objects are comprised of some combination of all the possible states of a system or as Wikipedia explains: “. . . if the world can be in any configuration, any possible arrangement of particles or fields, and if the world could also be in another configuration, then the world can also be in a state which is a superposition of the two, where the amount of each configuration that is in the superposition…” In the blast from the past commercial above, there is a quantum moment where the peanut butter and chocolate are neither peanut butter nor chocolate, but in a superposition of being both at once. Until you eat it. Then it’s just yummy.

3. Spin is what makes subatomic particles like electrons act like tiny bar magnets. Quantum mechanics allow subatomic particles to be in both an up and down position simultaneously.

4. Coherence refers to atomic particles acting in sync with one another, sort of like “a gathering of consummate musicians playing jazz together (‘quantum jazz’) where every single player is freely improvising from moment to moment and yet keeping in tune and in rhythm with the spontaneity of the whole. It is a special kind of wholeness that maximizes both local freedom and global cohesion.”

5. Schrödinger’s cat is a thought experiment devised by Erwin Schrödinger, who also came up with the term “entanglement,” in 1935 to illustrate the conflict between how matter behaves on a micro as opposed to a macro level. In the experiment the cat is put in a box with hydrocyanic acid that may or may not be released, killing the cat. At this point the cat is in a state of superposition — both dead and alive — and the act of observing it dissolves that state and forces the cat into one state or the other.

6. SPIN STATE is a Science Fiction novel by Chris Moriarty about quantum entanglement, Bose-Einstein condensates, and coherence. I profiled the main character of the book, Lt. Catherine Li, as a Danger Gal Friday.

7. Bose–Einstein condensate (BEC) is created when elementary particles called bosons are cooled to temperatures close to absolute zero. In this state quantum effects become observable on a macro level.

8. A spin bath is “a clutch of subatomic particles interacting cleanly enough to reveal quantum fluctuations spreading like ripples on a still pond.”

9. Entangled particles could travel as fast as 10,000 times the speed of light. Which kind of violates all the rules about space and time. Yay!

10. A bit has two possible states: 0 or 1. Picture it as an arrow on a sphere pointing to the north pole (1) or the south pole (0). A qubit is a quantum bit that can exist in any state in between 0 and 1 — and does exist in all of those states simultaneously until its state is measured.

11.Scientists have transmitted “a pair of entangled states of light into separate corners of an ultracold atomic cloud, stored them there briefly, and then sent them back on their separate ways without completely destroying the quantum link in the process.”

12. What’s an atomic cloud look like, you ask? You get one (an image of one) on your iPod with software called Atom in a Box. WANT.

13. An upcoming International Space Station experiment will test the transmission of photons from the Space Station to Earth using quantum entanglement. What do you want to bet the first message transmission will be “The cat is alive?”


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1. The Large Hardron Collider (LHC) is the “world’s largest and highest-energy particle accelerator complex,” and its purpose is to test the current standard theory of particle physics. Shiny.

2. The LHC collides beams of protons with the hopes of finding the elusive Higgs Boson. This finding would confirm some suppositions about particle physics, such as how elementary particles (i.e., quarks and leptons etc.) acquire mass. It would bring us closer to formulating a Grand Unified Theory, which unifies three of the four known fundamental forces: electromagnetism, the strong nuclear force, and the weak nuclear force. The theory leaves out only gravity, which always gets me down.

3. Firing up the LHC might destroy life as we know it. By recreating the Big Bang environment scientists could potentially create a new black hole every second. Stephen Hawking has countered this and stated that these tiny black holes should lose more mass than they absorb and evaporate within a trillionth of a trillionth of a second. So, we all trust Steve, right?

4. The first beams were circulated through the collider on September 10, 2008, and the first high-energy collisions are planned for October 21, 2008.

5. The collider tunnel contains two adjacent pipes each holding a proton beam, a type of hadron. The two beams travel in opposite directions around the ring. Almost two thousand magnets keep the beams on their circular path and maximize the chances of the beams crossing. Is anyone else having a Ghostbusters flashback? Don’t cross the beams and don’t feed it after midnight.

6. Stephen Hawking hopes we actually do not find the Higgs Boson particle: “I think it will be much more exciting if we don’t find the Higgs. That will show something is wrong, and we need to think again. I have a bet of $100 that we won’t find the Higgs.” In this scenario Hawking hopes to discover superpartners, particles that would be supersymmetric partners to particles already known. “Their existence would be a key confirmation of string theory, and they could make up the mysterious dark matter that holds galaxies together. Whatever the LHC finds, or fails to find, the results will tell us a lot about the structure of the universe,” he said.

7. The LHC experiments might also uncover why there seem to be symmetry violations between matter and anti-matter. We might also learn more about the nature of dark matter and dark energy. Sorry, captain, I can’t push the anti-matter drive any faster without more dilithium crystals!

8. The LHC experiments might prove or disprove the extra dimensions postulated by string physics. I hope it uncovers a Chocolate Dimension and a Calories-Don’t-Count-Here dimension — and preferably a worm hole connecting the two.

9. The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) built the Large Hadron Collider and may upgrade the facility’s Super Proton Synchrotron (SPS), a particle accelerator, in ten years. Does anyone else think that the Super Proton Synchrotron could kick Megatron’s a$$?

10. Tevatron is a circular particle accelerator at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois and was the highest energy particle collider in the world until the the Large Hadron Collider was built. I hope they enjoyed their fifteen minutes of fame.

11. According to Wikipedia, “[T]he Very Large Hadron Collider (VLHC) is a name for a hypothetical future hadron collider with performance significantly beyond the Large Hadron Collider.” The Very Very Very Very Gigantic Hadron Collider, slated to be built in 2025, goes up to 11.

12. A hadron is composed of quarks bound up together by a strong nuclear force, similar to how atoms are held together by electromagnetic force. Protons and neutrons are hadrons. The LHC may uncover the existence of other elementary particles called “sparticles.” Theoretically, when particles such as leptons, photons, and quarks were produced in the Big Bang, each was accompanied by a matching sparticle: sleptons, photinos and squarks. How funny would it be to get Gerry Butler to yell out “THIS IS A SPARTICLE!”?

13. The Higgs boson, called the “God Particle” in pop culture, is a hypothetical elementary particle predicted to exist by the Standard Model of particle physics. The Higgs Boson is the only Standard Model particle not yet observed and was named after Peter Higgs, British theoretical physicist and an emeritus professor at the University of Edinburgh.

Read more about the Large Hadron Collider:

30 stunning images of the Large Hadron Collider

Despite Rumors, Black Hole Factory Will Not Destroy Earth

Stephen Hawking: Large Hadron Collider vital for humanity

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!


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Lolly, Lolly, Lolly, Get Your Higgs Boson Here. The rap video above comes via Popular Mechanics, whose article shows off “Kate McAlpine and crew, who took to the tunnels under CERN to bring us the most entertaining explanation of physics we’ve seen since Schoolhouse Rock.”

Someone’s got to save our skins! The 9 Most Badass Women of Star Wars

I’ve found Leoben’s reviews of Tauron Morning coffee to be indispensible. Wired finds 11 fake Twitterers ripe for the takedown.

Infinite diversity in infinite combination. Lou Anders blogs about the difference between propaganda and the examination of the diversity of socio/spiritual-economic points of view in science fiction.

Star Wars is dead, long live Star Wars. SFFlare’s Eoghann Irving talks about how the Lucasverse needs to adapt in order to maintain its audience. The article also includes a link to SF Signal blogger JP Frantz’s post on the same topic.

It’s 4:20 somewhere. Scientific American talks about how several substances found in cannabis kill antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Your Lexus might be killing your sperm. New Scientist writes how heated seats in luxury cars may disrupt the sperm production process.

Put your listening gloves on? IO9 cites new scientific developments where genetically engineered cilia in the ear may help some deaf people hear again. Or maybe we’ll just starting listening with our hands.

Synthetic Type O has a weird oaky aftertaste, doesn’t it? Wired covers HBO’s new vampire series, True Blood, about Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse novels.

It’s going to be one long Cure album. Edward James Olmos tells TV Addict just how much of a downer the ending of Battlestar Galactica is going to be.


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Science is Cool

I write science fiction. So, I read a lot of a science articles. Daily I read New Scientist and Scientific American’s top news stories. I usually also visit the Gene Expression blog, John Hawks anthropology blog and also the Neurophilosopher’s Blog. Some weeks I come across all sorts of cool science news. Some geeky fun for you:


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