Posted by science intern Madeline Reddington
Today, science takes one more crucial step towards Star Trek's transporter. Then it’s on to tracking down ivory smugglers, investigating the mysteries of life on Earth, and peeking below the ice of Antarctica.
Researchers at Niels Bohr Institute made a breakthrough in quantum teleportation
For years, physicists have been able to demonstrate what Einstein called “spooky action at a distance” by using quantum entanglement to teleport information from light to light at a quantum level. In 2006, researchers at Niels Bohr Institute successfully performed the teleportation between light and gas atoms. Now for the first time, they’ve teleported information between two separate clouds of gas atoms. And not just once, but reliably and repeatedly.
These experiments, which are an important step for quantum information research, use two glass containers filled with caesium gas atoms. The two glasses are enclosed in a magnetic field, and a laser is used to teleport information from one glass of gas to the other. The quantum information is based on the orientation of the gas atoms, which can point “up” or “down”—analogous to a computer’s binary code of ones and zeros. Potential future applications for this research could include teleporting information from Earth to satellites.
DNA testing at a UW lab is a powerful weapon against ivory smugglers
The Center for Conservation Biology at UW has been extracting and analyzing DNA from ivory seized from smugglers, and developing a map of the geographic origins of these tusks. Agents hope to use these findings to target poaching “hot spots,” so they can make efficient use of limited resources for protecting elephants.
Early life on Earth may have been activated by comets
Researchers say icy comets that crashed into the Earth millions of years ago could have brought with them organic molecules that were able to synthesize life-building materials upon impact. The study in question used computer models to analyse the effect of various angles and speeds of impact on a single simulated comet. They could have brought 22 trillion pounds of carbon-based materials to the young Earth every year.
NASA’s updated map of de-iced Antarctica helps predict its response to climate change
Created by the British Antarctic Survey, this map shows a virtually thawed continent, revealing valuable information like the thickness of the ice. But honestly, it’s also just cool to peel Antarctica’s wig back: