Category Archives: Quantum Mechanics

Time Travel or Quantum Leap – Where Does Bitcoin Meet Relativity?

Artwork showing a Bitcoin symbol being sucked into a gravity well.  Image: NaturPhilosophieBlockchain Oddity

On 19 June 2018, a peculiar number emerged from the blockchain space.  The series of numbers and letters sent the cryptosphere into overdrive, sparking rampant talk of quantum computing breakthroughs, time travel, Satoshi’s return, and the esoteric meaning of Bitcoin.  Continue reading Time Travel or Quantum Leap – Where Does Bitcoin Meet Relativity?

Radioactivity and the Background of Dancing Particles

A picture showing dancing black silhouettes, each one bearing a Greek letter, over an abstract background symbolising a radiation event. Artwork: NaturPhilosophie Natural Radiation

Our environment is permeated by radiation, present around us at all time.  We are constantly exposed to radioactivity from natural sources for the most part naturally occurring radioactive nuclei in rocks and cosmic rays – the ‘background’.  Without ado, this is my lowdown on radioactivity.

Continue reading Radioactivity and the Background of Dancing Particles

And THIS… is an Atom!

A meme attempting to put into perspective the atom's tiny size in David Nadlinger's prize-winning photograph.  A slideshow of closer and closer view entice you to look closer.  The captions are: "Look Closer", "Closer", "Right There!"  Meme: NaturPhilosophie‘Single Atom in an Ion Trap’

Scientists accomplish the impossible.  This time, a quantum physicist has only managed to capture the photographic image of an atom with a conventional camera.  And THIS is the photograph…..  Continue reading And THIS… is an Atom!

Charming New Particle Xi-cc++ Discovered at CERN

Abstract artist impression of the particle newly discovered at CERN in psychedelic colours. Artwork: NaturPhilosophieThe Xi-cc++ Particle

CERN’s LHCb collaboration has announced the discovery of a new “charming” particle, thought to be instrumental to the strong force – the Xi-cc++.  Another particle.  So…? Continue reading Charming New Particle Xi-cc++ Discovered at CERN

The Bizarre Behaviour of Negative Mass

"Hokusai's Wavelet", a take on the bouncing droplet in a Getty photograph (see original below). Artwork: NaturPhilosophieObserving Negative Mass at Washington State University

Negative mass has always been theoretically possible, and the concept has finally made it from a mathematical idea on paper to a reality achieved in the lab.  Scientists at Washington State University have created a fluid with negative mass.  Continue reading The Bizarre Behaviour of Negative Mass

CIA Releases “X-Files”

A photograph of two very young buddhist monks, showing one of them sitting in an alley while the other is seemingly levitating in front of him. The image is stamped by the Central Intelligence Agency.The Real X-Files

As the X-Files series enjoy a revival on TV, the American spy agency has decided to place thousands of declassified documents detailing government research into UFOs on its website.  The CIA documents also confirm the reality of humans with ‘Special Abilities’ able to do seemingly impossible things.  Continue reading CIA Releases “X-Files”

You Wait Ages for a Chemical Element, and Then… BINGO!!

A photograph of Kosuke Morita, the leader of the Riken team, posing with a board displaying the new atomic element 113 during a press conference in Wako, Saitama prefecture on 31 December 2015.Four Elements Come Along at Once…

Just like buses, it seems.  But even rarer and a damn sight more exciting to be honest.  Ooohoo!!!  Out with your old Science books!!  HeL-LOOooo elements 113… 115, 117 and 118!! Continue reading You Wait Ages for a Chemical Element, and Then… BINGO!!

Lateral Thinking in Science – Who Are You?

A photographic montage showing Laura Dern, Benedict Cumberbatch and Lennie James in various cinematic and TV roles as scientists. The caption asks: "What kind of scientist should you be?"What kind of Scientist are you?

Already this article is beginning to sound like one of those sempiternal quizzes you so often get on social media… but it actually shows how science reality connects.  Are you having a scientific identity crisis? Continue reading Lateral Thinking in Science – Who Are You?

The Future of RadioCarbon Dating – And an Overview of the AMS Technique

A photograph of one of the Dead Sea scrolls - The Isaiah scrollFossil Fuel Emissions Threatens Carbon Dating Accuracy

The radiocarbon 14C dating method has been used for decades to accurately determine the age of a wide range of artefacts.  But our relentless use of fossil fuels has pumped a type of carbon into the atmosphere that is starting to confuse the dating technique.  By 2050, scientists warn, new fabrics could have the same radiocarbon date as items 1,000 years old! Continue reading The Future of RadioCarbon Dating – And an Overview of the AMS Technique

From Super Weed to Super-Capacitors, Another Surprising Use for Cannabis…

A close-up photograph of "skunk" cannabis being poured out of a glass container. The photograph has been stamped with the "Intel Inside" logo.Nano-Cannabis?

Waste fibres from cannabis crops can be transformed into high-performance low-cost pseudo-graphene energy storage devices.  Cannabis is quite possibly the most versatile, yet highly controversial, plant we have on the planet: from a popular recreational drug to a potential medicine for a range of incurable conditions.  If Carlsberg made a weed, this would be it… Continue reading From Super Weed to Super-Capacitors, Another Surprising Use for Cannabis…

Behold… the Mystical Pentaquark! – More Exotic Matter Discovered at CERN

A photomontage showing my two open hands facing the camera, between which a pictorial representation in red of the elusive pentaquark particle appears to be levitating. Image: NaturPhilosophiePentaquark… Eh, WHAT?!

First predicted in the 1960s, like the Higgs boson before it, the pentaquark eluded science for decades until its recent detection at CERN’s LHCb collaboration.  The discovery amounts to finding a new form of matter… Continue reading Behold… the Mystical Pentaquark! – More Exotic Matter Discovered at CERN

Seeing the Light Fantastic – Particles, Waves and All

This seminal photograph shows, for the first time, light in all its beauty, simultaneously seen as a wave and as a particle.Light in All its Beauty

Taking a radically different experimental approach, EPFL scientists were able to take the first ever snapshot of light behaving simultaneously both as a wave AND as a stream of particles.  You need light to take a photograph.  But how do you take a photograph of light? Continue reading Seeing the Light Fantastic – Particles, Waves and All

Just a Second…

A close-up photograph of an analog clock showing the hands just reaching the hour.What Does a Second Look Like?

1/60 minute.  1/3,600 hour.  1/86,400 day.  1/1 hertz.  The duration of 9,192,631,770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of a 133 55Cs caesium isotope corresponds to one second.  But what does it look like?  And where might you find a second? Continue reading Just a Second…

Physics at 13 TeV – Cranking Up the LHC

A composite picture showing inside the underground tunnel at CERN, and a small portion of the giant particle accelerator in artificial colours, with the words 13 TeV superimposed on it. Image: NaturPhilosophieA Vernesque Feat of Human Engineering

Deep down, in huge subterranean caverns… Underneath the Franco-Swiss border… 300 feet underground… lies a beast of unprecedented power… and mystery.  The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) that man summons to  explore the uncharted corners of the sub-atomic realm…  After two years of a deep slumber, the mighty beast has awoken… Continue reading Physics at 13 TeV – Cranking Up the LHC

Rare Beauty Decays at CERN

Two computer models showing the Beauty (B0s) particle decaying into two muons, as detected by CERN's LHCb and CMS experiments.The rare Bs0µ+µ decay

The Standard Model of Particle Physics describes the fundamental particles and their interactions via the strong, electromagnetic and weak forces, providing precise predictions for measurable quantities that can be tested experimentally.  Here’s the latest!!  It’s hot!!!  It’s exciting!!!  At least, if you’re a particle physicist… Continue reading Rare Beauty Decays at CERN

The Sound of Physics

A photograph featuring an electric guitar player and the music score of the Higgs "sonification" by the rock band, Traq.LOUD!!!

Should you ever have wondered what the Higgs boson sounds like…  It’s…  “AS LOUD AS A RIFF BY JOE SATRIANI.  WHAT?!  IT’S AS LOUD… AS A…”  Oh, wait!!  Here it is. Continue reading The Sound of Physics

That Mysterious Missing Matter – Cocktail Party Physics

A 3D animation showing dark matter creation and the large scale structure of the Universe.Dark Matter

“Dark matter?”  You cannot see it.  But there is something there.  As for what it is, it’s anybody’s guess!  Dark matter does not interact with light.  At all.  Which makes it difficult to detect.  But if you cannot see it?  How do you know it is in fact there?”  Well, it does interact with gravity, and as it does so it bends the path of any light ray passing nearby...  “And did it really kill the dinosaurs…?”  Continue reading That Mysterious Missing Matter – Cocktail Party Physics

5 Top Tips for Going Viral with Leidenfrost Physics

A short video showing a water droplet moving towards the right of the screen under the influence of the Leindenfrost effect.The Leidenfrost effect

You’re not having déjà vu.  I already wrote about the Leidenfrost Maze in this blog.  And although physics experiments fascinate many, they don’t normally weigh up as Internet clickbait.  But the Leidenfrost effect is different… Continue reading 5 Top Tips for Going Viral with Leidenfrost Physics

When Biology Met Physics…

A photomontage showing helicoidal-shaped strands of DNA superimposed on a background of physical equations.The Emergent Field of Biophysics

Ever since Francis Crick and James Watson brought Physics and Biology together in 1953 to unveil the molecular structure of DNA, the boundary between the two disciplines has continued to become increasingly blurred.  In this genomic new era, ever more principles from Physics are being applied to living systems in an attempt to understand complexity at all levels.  Although sometimes the best solution to a Physics problem lies in the macroscopic world of Biology…  Continue reading When Biology Met Physics…

Planck’s Time and the “Oldest Light” in the Cosmos

A photomontage showing an image of the Planck spacecraft superimposed on a sky planisphere of the Cosmic Microwave Background $ ($CMB$ )$ Radiation.Who, What, Where?

What happened at time t = 0?  is still anybody’s guess.  At least, earlier observations of Planck’s radiation had suggested the first generation of stars were bursting into life by about 420 million years after the Big Bang.  However, scientists from Europe’s Planck satellite mission now say the first stars lit up the Universe later than was previously thought… Continue reading Planck’s Time and the “Oldest Light” in the Cosmos

A Classical Quantum Conundrum – When To Be or Not To Be… a Wave?

An animation showing the formation of the typical wave-particle duality interference pattern.Wav-icles?

Ever since French physicist Louis de Broglie first described the wave-particle duality in 1926, scientists have struggled to come to terms with this strange particularity of our natural World when observed at the quantum level.  Waves can be particles, and particles can be waves.  But are entities waves AND particles all at the same time?

Continue reading A Classical Quantum Conundrum – When To Be or Not To Be… a Wave?

Scotland’s Quiet Revolutions – One Nation with Sovereign Achievements… and a Pure Dead Brilliant Future!

A photograph of the countryside north of Glasgow - sheep grazing. Image: NaturPhilosophieScotland’s Quiet Revolutions

It seems quiet at first, and even dull.  Not much happening…  Dreich, as one might say!  Sad.  Grim.  Bleak.  Not much to do…  Not much to see here…  Just sheep…  But wait!!  Look closer!  Is that Dolly in this field?  Now, that’s interesting!  Oh, Aye, we’re in Scotland!  It changes EVERYTHING…  Continue reading Scotland’s Quiet Revolutions – One Nation with Sovereign Achievements… and a Pure Dead Brilliant Future!

We Glimpse at the Body Electric – An Introduction to the Physics of the Human Nervous System

An artist's impression of the human nervous system at work.The Human Nervous System: 100 Plus Billion Cells

The human nervous system contains roughly 100 billion nerve cells.  Worth pausing for an instant… and read it again.  That’s right, 100 billions!  To give an idea of the scale, the Milky Way, our own galaxy, contains roughly 100 billion stars.  And although human beings are way smaller than galaxies, we begin to appreciate how each one of us is as complex, as mysterious, and as magnificent in its own right, as any large astronomical entity in the physical Universe Continue reading We Glimpse at the Body Electric – An Introduction to the Physics of the Human Nervous System

Van der Waals and the Gecko

A photographic collage showing a black and white portrait of Van der Waals and a gecko climbing on the outside of a corrugated glass panel.The Sticky Physics of Van der Waals Forces

Geckos are amazing creatures.  They scamper up walls, scuttle along ceilings and hang upside down on polished glass surfaces.  However, the secret of their amazing climbing ability remained a mystery until relatively recently.  The secret lies in weak intermolecular forces, described by Van der Waals in 1873. Continue reading Van der Waals and the Gecko

Quantum Physicists in Disguise…

A photographic collage showing a number of Quantum celebrities, including Charlotte Church, Will I. Am, Tiger Woods, Anne Hathaway and Mark Everett. Image: NaturPhilosophieCelebrities you Thought you Knew Everything About

This blog isn’t really “trendy”…  “Physicists aren’t cool, and you never meet them anywhere anyway because they are all lesser known characters, some of them shady, who spend all their time toiling in obscurity on things no one does understand.”  Continue reading Quantum Physicists in Disguise…