Electrons disappearing and reappearing between atomic layers 

Scientist have spotted a strange type of quantum movement occurring in electrons travelling between the atomic layers of a material. Instead of travelling from the top to the bottom layer through the middle, the electrons were caught disappearing from the top layer and reappearing in the bottom layer a fraction of a second later – with…

The Trees Have Ears

Environmentalists are bugging rainforests with discarded smartphones to catch poachers and illegal loggers. When a tree falls to illegal loggers in the forest of the Kalaweit Supayang Nature Conservation Reserve for gibbons in West Sumatra, Indonesia, it most definitely makes a sound—and generates a text message to alert reserve managers. Last summer a tiny, nonprofit…

A robot stingray

Here’s a critter that would be a showstopper in your aquarium: By layering rat heart cells over a gold skeleton, scientists have built tiny swimming artificial stingrays that can be driven and guided by light. These little ray-bots, described in the journal Science, may offer insight into building soft robotics, studying the human heart — and…

Building James Webb

For months, inside the towering Building 29 here at Goddard Space Flight Center, the four scientific instruments at the heart of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST, or Webb) have been sealed in what looks like a house-sized pressure cooker. A rhythmic chirp-chirp-chirp sounds as vacuum pumps keep the interior at a spacelike ten-billionth of…

Building an archive on the Moon

Is there a business case that would support a private, unmanned mission to the moon? The people at Lunar Mission One certainly think so. If they’re right, an unmanned lander will touch down on a crater rim near the Moon’s south pole in 2024. Part of the lander will be devoted to scientific exploration, drilling…

Experiment records extreme quantum weirdness

Researchers from the Centre for Quantum Technologies (CQT) at the National University of Singapore and the University of Seville in Spain have reported the most extreme ‘entanglement’ between pairs of photons ever seen in the lab. The result was published 30 October 2015 in Physical Review Letters. The achievement is evidence for the validity of…

Facebook’s AI software could give machines more common sense

Will this block of virtual blocks fall over? Facebook has trained up software that knows the answer. Artificial-intelligence researchers at the company took on the project in an effort to explore how computers might learn some basic physical common sense. Understanding that, for example, unsupported objects fall, or that a larger object won’t fit inside…

A quantum virus for efficient energy transport

When MIT phenoms Seth Lloyd and Angela Belcher put their heads together to create the perfect peanut butter cup, you know we are going to be there to take a bite. Lloyd, of quantum computer fame, realized that certain features of the kinds of viruses which Belcher builds are ideally dimensioned for trying increase the…

Graphene spirals could challenge macro solenoids 

In the drive to miniaturize electronics, solenoids have become way too big, say Rice University scientists who discovered the essential component can be scaled down to nano-size with macro-scale performance. The secret is in a spiral form of atom-thin graphene that, remarkably, can be found in nature, according to Rice theoretical physicist Boris Yakobson and…

Google and NASA Team Up on Quantum Computer

The next generation of computers is a few years off, but it’s pretty damn cool. It’s like no computer you’ve ever seen, nor are you likely to ever own. It promises speed and the ability to tackle problems ordinary computers can’t handle. The machine is the D-Wave 2X, and the only working model outside the company…