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Quantum science
quirks of quantum field
Curated by Debra Harkins
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Particle and wave-like behavior of light measured simultaneously

Particle and wave-like behavior of light measured simultaneously | Quantum science | Scoop.it
What is light made of: waves or particles? This basic question has fascinated physicists since the early days of science. Quantum mechanics predicts that photons, particles of light, are both particles and waves simultaneously.

 

The history of science is marked by an intense debate between the particle and wave theories of light. Isaac Newton was the main advocate of the particle theory, while James Clerk Maxwell and his greatly successful theory of electromagnetism, gave credit to the wave theory. However, things changed dramatically in 1905, when Einstein showed that it was possible to explain the photoelectric effect (which had remained a complete mystery until then) using the idea that light is made of particles: photons. This discovery had a huge impact on physics, as it greatly contributed to the development of quantum mechanics -- the most accurate scientific theory ever developed.


Despite its success, quantum mechanics presents a tremendous challenge to our everyday intuition. Indeed, the theory predicts with a remarkable accuracy the behaviour of small objects such as atoms and photons. However, when taking a closer look at these predictions, we are forced to admit that they are strikingly counter-intuitive. For instance, quantum theory predicts that a particle (for instance a photon) can be in different places at the same time. In fact it can even be in infinitely many places at the same time, exactly as a wave. Hence the notion of wave-particle duality, which is fundamental to all quantum systems.


Surprisingly, when a photon is observed, it behaves either as a particle or as a wave. But both aspects are never observed simultaneously. In fact, which behaviour it exhibits depends on the type of measurement it is presented with. These astonishing phenomena have been experimentally investigated in the last few years, using measurement devices that can be switched between wave-like and particle-like measurements.


In a recent paper, physicists from the University of Bristol give a new twist on these ideas. Dr. Alberto Peruzzo, Peter Shadbolt and Professor Jeremy O'Brien from the Centre for Quantum Photonics teamed up with quantum theorists Dr. Nicolas Brunner and Prof. Sandu Popescu to devise a novel type of measurement apparatus that can measure both particle and wave-like behavior simultaneously. This new device is powered by quantum nonlocality, another strikingly counter-intuitive quantum effect. Dr. Peruzzo, Research Fellow at the Centre for Quantum Photonics, said: "The measurement apparatus detected strong nonlocality, which certified that the photon behaved simultaneously as a wave and a particle in our experiment. This represents a strong refutation of models in which the photon is either a wave or a particle." Prof. O'Brien, Director of the Centre for Quantum Photonics, said: "To conduct this research, we used a quantum photonic chip, a novel technology pioneered in Bristol. The chip is reconfigurable so it can be programmed and controlled to implement different circuits. Today this technology is a leading approach in the quest to build a quantum computer and in the future will allow for new and more sophisticated studies of fundamental aspects of quantum phenomena."


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Zoomable photo of the Milky Way's center (1 Billion pixel mosaic)

Zoomable photo of the Milky Way's center (1 Billion pixel mosaic) | Quantum science | Scoop.it

This image is a 1 billion pixel RVB mosaic of the galactic center region (340 millions pixels in each R,V and B color). It shows the region spanning from Sagittarius (with the Milky Way center and M8/M20 area on the left) to Scorpius (with colorful Antares and Rho Ophiuchus region on the right) and cat paw nebula (red nebula at the bottom). This mosaic was assembled from 52 different sky fields made from 1200 individual images and 200 hours total exposure time, final image size is 24000x14000 pixels. The images were taken with a SBIG STL camera + Takahashi FSQ106Ed f/3.6 telescope and NJP160 mount from the clear skies of ESO Paranal Observatory in Chile. This mosaic is one of the three parts of the ESO Gigagalaxy Zoom project together with this incredible whole sky mosaic image by ESO/S.Brunier and this fantastic ESO mosaic image of the Lagoon nebula region.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Ever wanted X-ray specs or super-human vision? Look at the Milky Way and Universe in a range of wavelengths

Ever wanted X-ray specs or super-human vision? Look at the Milky Way and Universe in a range of wavelengths | Quantum science | Scoop.it

Chromoscope shows you the view of the Universe that we get from Earth. The view is mostly dominated by our galaxy - The Milky Way - which is the band running horizontally across the middle. The direction of the centre of the Galaxy is, appropriately, in the centre of the screen. All the stars, and many of the nebulae you can see are also in the Milky Way. Some of the objects you can see in visible light are far beyond our own galaxy. With other types of light you can see objects far across the Universe and even see light that set off shortly after the Big Bang.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Guillaume Decugis's curator insight, February 19, 2013 12:40 PM

Pretty cool way to play with zooming options and visible/non-visible light.

Loreto Vargas's curator insight, February 20, 2013 11:33 AM

Extraordinary.

Rescooped by Debra Harkins from Quantum science
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Particle and wave-like behavior of light measured simultaneously

Particle and wave-like behavior of light measured simultaneously | Quantum science | Scoop.it
What is light made of: waves or particles? This basic question has fascinated physicists since the early days of science. Quantum mechanics predicts that photons, particles of light, are both particles and waves simultaneously.

 

The history of science is marked by an intense debate between the particle and wave theories of light. Isaac Newton was the main advocate of the particle theory, while James Clerk Maxwell and his greatly successful theory of electromagnetism, gave credit to the wave theory. However, things changed dramatically in 1905, when Einstein showed that it was possible to explain the photoelectric effect (which had remained a complete mystery until then) using the idea that light is made of particles: photons. This discovery had a huge impact on physics, as it greatly contributed to the development of quantum mechanics -- the most accurate scientific theory ever developed.


Despite its success, quantum mechanics presents a tremendous challenge to our everyday intuition. Indeed, the theory predicts with a remarkable accuracy the behaviour of small objects such as atoms and photons. However, when taking a closer look at these predictions, we are forced to admit that they are strikingly counter-intuitive. For instance, quantum theory predicts that a particle (for instance a photon) can be in different places at the same time. In fact it can even be in infinitely many places at the same time, exactly as a wave. Hence the notion of wave-particle duality, which is fundamental to all quantum systems.


Surprisingly, when a photon is observed, it behaves either as a particle or as a wave. But both aspects are never observed simultaneously. In fact, which behaviour it exhibits depends on the type of measurement it is presented with. These astonishing phenomena have been experimentally investigated in the last few years, using measurement devices that can be switched between wave-like and particle-like measurements.


In a recent paper, physicists from the University of Bristol give a new twist on these ideas. Dr. Alberto Peruzzo, Peter Shadbolt and Professor Jeremy O'Brien from the Centre for Quantum Photonics teamed up with quantum theorists Dr. Nicolas Brunner and Prof. Sandu Popescu to devise a novel type of measurement apparatus that can measure both particle and wave-like behavior simultaneously. This new device is powered by quantum nonlocality, another strikingly counter-intuitive quantum effect. Dr. Peruzzo, Research Fellow at the Centre for Quantum Photonics, said: "The measurement apparatus detected strong nonlocality, which certified that the photon behaved simultaneously as a wave and a particle in our experiment. This represents a strong refutation of models in which the photon is either a wave or a particle." Prof. O'Brien, Director of the Centre for Quantum Photonics, said: "To conduct this research, we used a quantum photonic chip, a novel technology pioneered in Bristol. The chip is reconfigurable so it can be programmed and controlled to implement different circuits. Today this technology is a leading approach in the quest to build a quantum computer and in the future will allow for new and more sophisticated studies of fundamental aspects of quantum phenomena."


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald, Debra Harkins
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