CNET – If only we were quantum states, we’d be playing Kirk and Scotty, popping around the universe until the inevitable failure in the transporter circuits.
European and Canadian scientists are pushing the envelope on quantum teleportation after having succeeded in beaming quantum states across some 90 miles in the Canary Islands.
The laser-locked telescopes on the islands of La Palma and Tenerife served as transporter rooms, teleporting information about the state of a pair of “entangled” particles.
The entanglement links the particles such that a change in one is registered in the other despite great distances between them.
On March 31, 2009, a panel of scientists and civil servants met to assess the risk presented by a recent series of tremors in the Abruzzo region of Italy. They concluded that a major seismic event was unlikely. Soon thereafter, Bernardo De Bernardinis, the vice-director of Italy’s Department of Civil Protection, the organization that put together the panel, told reporters that citizens should not worry, and even agreed with a journalist who suggested that people should relax with a glass of wine.
Six days later, a major earthquake struck L’Aquila, a city in Abruzzo, killing more than 300 people. Soon after, citizens requested an investigation into the panelists’ findings, and the public prosecutor obliged. De Bernardinis and the panelists were charged with manslaughter and now face up to 15 years in prison. The L’Aquila judge who determined that the case could go to court said the defendants provided “imprecise, incomplete and contradictory information” and effectively “thwarted the activities designed to protect the public.”
Many seismologists around the world say that criminalizing the Italian panel’s assessments will have a chilling effect on science. Sheila Jasanoff, a professor at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government who studies the role of science and expertise in politics and the law, told me that, though the Italian trial is an extreme example, public scrutiny of how scientists convey low-probability, high-danger situations is not in itself unreasonable. More
Two scientists at the Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute at the University of Pittsburgh discussed the state of xenotransplantation–the use of cells, organs, or tissue from one animal in another–in a review in The Lancet. In that review, they touch on the history of one particular subject: pig-to-human transplants. Their conclusion? Clinical trials of pig-to-human transplants could begin in just a few years.
Pigs that are genetically modified with genes to protect their organs and other inside bits from attack by the human immune system are capable of all kinds of potentially life-saving effects. Research has been conducted until now with non-human primates, and while these primates have not been able to survive for all that long with pig organs–at best, a pig heart-implanted primate survives for around eight months–that could be enough time to serve as temporary lifesavers. Cells and tissue could be used to counteract human diseases like diabetes (as in this example) and Parkinson’s, and have actually shown more success than complete organs. More
New York University researchers led by Paul Chaikin have found a way to use synthetic DNA to make molecules that reproduce themselves. The technique gives scientists a tool to create different combinations on the DNA that aren’t necessarily available in nature. That opens up billions of possibilities for building completely new materials and even molecular machines. Chaikin and his colleaques reported their results in this week’s journal Nature.
Inside a living cell, enzymes split DNA’s ladder-like double helix molecule down the middle, leaving two single strings of nucleotides. The enzymes then tack on new nucleotides to each half in order to create an identical copy. Where there was one double helix of DNA, there is two. The cell then uses the copied DNA to perform a biological function such as build a protein, for example. This replication is crucial to a lifeform’s ability to exist and survive.
In this case, the researchers created two slightly different molecular “tiles,” each one made of 10 strands of DNA.
A 3.6-million-year-old woolly rhinoceros fossil discovered in Tibet in 2007 indicates that some giant mammals may have evolved in the Tibetan highlands before the beginning of the Ice Age, according to experts.
In a paper published on September 2 in the magazine Science, paleontologists from the Natural History Museum (NHM) of Los Angeles County and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, who discovered the rhino’s complete skull and lower jaw, argue that the beast adapted to global cooling before it even happened.
The extinction of giants from the Ice Age such as woolly mammoths and giant sloths has been widely studied, but it has remained unclear about where these giant beasts came from, and how they acquired their adaptations for living in extreme cold environments.
The team, led by NHM’s Xiaoming Wang and CAS’s Qiang Li, said among the special adaptations was a flat horn useful for sweeping snow away to find vegetation. With special adaptations, the giant mammals were able to spread to northern Asia and Europe once the Ice Age started 2.6 million years ago.
The fossil is believed to be the oldest specimen of its kind yet to be found. It lived nearly 3.6 million years ago, long before similar animals that roamed northern Asia and Europe in the Ice Age.
“The Tibetan Plateau may have been another cradle of the Ice Age giants,” report the researchers.
The woolly rhino fossil was well preserved — “just a little crushed, so not quite in the original shape; but the complete skull and lower jaw are preserved,” Xiaoming told BBC News. More
If there’s one thing in our archives more impressive than the retrofuturistic illustrations, it’s the number of superstar scientists who have shown up in our magazine over the years. Back in the day, our writers secured interviews with everyone from radio pioneer Guglielmo Marconi to “famous prophet of science” Nikola Tesla. To say that we’re jealous of our predecessors would be a gross understatement, so we’ve compiled a quick roundup of these scientific celebrity encounters for your vicarious enjoyment. In addition to highlighting interviews with notable figures, we’ve included articles written by famous scientists, as well as features published at the peak of their careers.
One of our first notable contributors was the father of the telephone himself, Alexander Graham Bell. You’d think he’d be a busy man, but in between racing to the patent office and tinkering with his devices, Bell found the time to write a lengthy article about using tellurium selenium alloys to produce high-quality sound. If that process sounds a little arcane, don’t worry — Bell provided illustrations for clarity.
As much as we hoped to see a piece written by Albert Einstein, it turns out that most prominent scientists declined to contribute entire articles to us after the turn of the century. Chances are, they were too preoccupied with spending their Nobel Prize winnings to hammer out essays for consumer magazines.
On the other hand, it’s hard to resist the charms of a glowing secondhand account. After spending a day with Tesla, our journalist said, “To talk with Dr. Tesla is to become acquainted with an extraordinary life packed with adventure into uncharted realms of knowledge.” Elsewhere in the article, his glee practically radiates off the page.
Given the number of innovators who cropped up in the past 138 years, we couldn’t include every historical figure featured on our pages. But do a quick search through our archives and see if you don’t find at least one ode to your favorites.
Click through our gallery to see the earliest PopSci cameos by Albert Einstein, Robert H. Goddard, Marie Curie, and more eminent scientists from the 20th century.
I’d rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University.
– William F. Buckley (HT: Brainyquote.com)
Dr. David Evans says openly what the Gods of The Copybooks fear to say aloud. Namely that
“The Western Climate Establishment is Cheating.”
This doesn’t involve one or two rogues with a test tube of cold fusion. This is not a faction of academics settling professional scores with other professional academics. This is a systematic, deliberate campaign of disinformation designed to deliberately prevent the vast majority of the population from being properly informed regarding the basis of major political decisions.
We are told that issues such as Healthcare Reform and Climate Science are technical and hard. Therefore, it is reasoned that we, the people should let they, the experts, handle these problems. However, letting the experts handle it has become an increasingly risky proposition, because the experts no longer display altruistic motivations that are ascribed to their persons.