In normal life, you open the car door before getting into the car. Operation A happens before operation B. That's the causal order of things. But a new quantum switch weirdly enables two operations to happen simultaneously. From Science News
The device, known as a quantum switch, works by putting particles of light through a series of two operations — labeled A and B — that alter the shape of the light. These photons can travel along two separate paths to A and B. Along one path, A happens before B, and on the other, B happens before A.
Which path the photon takes is determined by its polarization, the direction in which its electromagnetic waves wiggle — up and down or side to side. Photons that have horizontal polarization experience operation A first, and those with vertical polarization experience B first.
But, thanks to the counterintuitive quantum property of superposition, the photon can be both horizontally and vertically polarized at once. In that case, the light experiences both A before B, and B before A, Romero and colleagues report.
While this is deeply weird and amazing, it unfortunately doesn't occur at the human scale but rather in the quantum realm where measurements are in the nanometers. Still, quantum switches do have clear applications in future communications and computation systems.
"Indefinite Causal Order in a Quantum Switch" (Physical Review Letters)
image: detail from Salvador Dali's "Persistence of Memory"
The large black bear in this video was observed ambling around a Monrovia, California neighborhood last Friday morning. The bear walked through residential lawns, driveways and rested in a nearby alley.
How does an owl’s tail help it fly? To better see the role of the tail in raptor aerodynamics, researchers at the UK’s Royal Veterinary College recorded birds of prey flying through clouds of tiny helium bubbles. According to the science journal Nature, analyzing the swirling motion of the bubbles enabled the scientists to discover […]
Thirty years ago today, the Voyager 1 spaceprobe had completed its ncounters with the outer planets and was careening out of our solar system. The time came to shut off the probes’ cameras to preserve power and memory for the other onboard scientific instruments. But before engineers flipped the switch, one last photo opportunity was […]
Bad news: Your brain reaches its peak performance sometime before you turn 26, and it’s all downhill from there. Good news: At any age, training with brain exercises has big-time benefits. Better news? The Ultimate Memory Mastery Bundle hooks you up with 20 hours of proven psychology and neuroscience techniques to boost your brain and […]
Admit it…even having a pocket knife within reach at a moment’s notice makes you feel a little like James Bond, right? Like, if you run up against a locked vault or a sinister superweapon, all you’d need are a couple of hand-held tools to diffuse the whole situation and save the world. Look, we don’t […]
There’s no shortage of CRMs out there for large corporations, e-commerce companies, and booming startups to utilize. Think Salesforce, for example. But if you’re running a small business of ten employees max, there’s no way it makes sense to invest in an expensive, robust option like that. You’re better off using your old system of […]