Medley

Rare Earth atoms see the light

Physicist discovers a promising route for combined optical and solid state-based quantum information processing

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Tiny units of matter and chemistry that they are, atoms constitute the entire universe. Some rare atoms can store quantum information, an important phenomenon for scientists in their ongoing quest for a quantum Internet.

New research from UC Santa Barbara scientists and their Dutch colleagues exploits a system that has the potential to transfer optical quantum information to a locally stored solid-state quantum format, a requirement of quantum communication. The team's findings appear in the journal Nature Photonics.

“Our research aims at creating a quantum analog of current fiber optic technology in which light is used to transfer classical information – bits with values zero or one –  between computers,” said author Dirk Bouwmeester, a professor in UCSB's Department of Physics. “The rare earth atoms we're studying can store the superpositions of zero and one used in quantum computation. In addition, the light by which we communicate with these atoms can also store quantum information.”

Read more: Rare Earth atoms see the light

The aftermath of 1492: Study shows how Native American depopulation impacted ecology

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Without humans in the region to clear trees for building materials, heating, cooking, and agriculture, the forest began to reclaim that territory, providing, literally, more fuel for fires

There is little dispute that in the wake of European colonists' arrival in the New World, Native American populations were decimated by disease and conflict. But when it comes to the timing, magnitude, and effects of this depopulation – it depends on who you ask.

Many scholars claim that disease struck the native population shortly after their first contact with Europeans, and spread with such ferocity that it left tell-tale fingerprints on the global climate. Others, however, argue that – though still devastating – the process was far more gradual, and took place over many years.

Read more: The aftermath of 1492: Study shows how Native American depopulation impacted ecology

Life in Egypt

Kathleen Hall – Canada

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The Great Pyramid and Sphinx at Giza

In June 2015 I accepted a teaching position at an international school in Cairo. I had previously travelled a bit in Egypt and have always been fascinated with the Middle East so I was very excited about this new adventure in my life. Although tourism has significantly dropped since 2010, Egypt still attracts many foreigners and expats such as myself - who finally embraced the overwhelming pull its magnetic forces had on my life since childhood, and moved there! As a side note, for me it began with my armchair travels when I was a young girl, reading about and seeing old photos of Egypt and the Seven Wonders of the World, in the lovely old “Books of Knowledge” we had in our family library.

Read more: Life in Egypt

Focus – A simplicity manifesto in the Age of Distraction: Part 14

Leo Babauta – USA

A simplicity manifesto in the Age of Distraction: Part 14

Going with the flow

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Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes.
Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let
reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in
whatever way they like.

Lao-Tzu

No matter how much structure we create in our lives, no matter how many good habits we build, there will always be things that we cannot control — and if we let them, these things can be a huge source of anger, frustration and stress.

The simple solution: learn to go with the flow. For example, let’s say you’ve created the perfect peaceful morning routine. You’ve structured your mornings so that you do things that bring you calm and happiness. And then a water pipe bursts in your bathroom and you spend a stressful morning trying to clean up the mess and get the pipe fixed.

Read more: Focus – A simplicity manifesto in the Age of Distraction: Part 14

Solving hard quantum problems: Everything is connected

 

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Waves in a Bose-Einstein condensate: a many-particle effect.

New methods for many-body quantum calculations

Quantum systems are extremely hard to analyze if they consist of more than just a few parts. It is not difficult to calculate a single hydrogen atom, but in order to describe an atom cloud of several thousand atoms, it is usually necessary to use rough approximations. The reason for this is that quantum particles are connected to each other and cannot be described separately. Kaspar Sakmann (TU Wien, Vienna) and Mark Kasevich (Stanford, USA) have now shown in an article published in Nature Physics that this problem can be overcome. They succeeded in calculating effects in ultra-cold atom clouds which can only be explained in terms of the quantum correlations between many atoms. Such atom clouds are known as Bose-Einstein condensates and are an active field of research.

Read more: Solving hard quantum problems: Everything is connected

Focus

Leo Babauta – USA

A simplicity manifesto in the Age of Distraction: Part 13

Slowing Down

“There is more to life than increasing its speed.”

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Gandhi

The world most of us live in is hectic, fast-paced, fractured, hurried. What’s more, most of us are conditioned to think this is the way life should be.

Life should be lived at break-neck speed, we believe. We risk our lives in cars and we break the speed limit, rushing from one place to another. We do one thing after another, multi-tasking and switching between tasks as fast as we can blink.

All in the name of productivity, of having more, of appearing busy, to ourselves and to others.

But life doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, I’d argue that it’s counterproductive.

If our goal is to create, to produce amazing things, to go for quality over quantity, then rushing is not the most effective way to work. Slowing down and focusing is always more effective.

Rushing produces errors. It’s distracting to flit from one thing to the next, with our attention never on one thing long enough to give it any thought or create anything of worth. Hurrying produces too much noise to be able to find the quiet the mind needs for true creativity and profound thinking.

So yes, moving quickly will get more done. But it won’t get the right things done.

Read more: Focus

Negative spiritual beliefs associated with more pain and worse physical, mental health

 

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Individuals who blame karma for their poor health have more pain and worse physical and mental health, according to a new study from University of Missouri researchers. Targeted interventions to counteract negative spiritual beliefs could help some individuals decrease pain and improve their overall health, the researchers said.

In general, the more religious or spiritual you are, the healthier you are, which makes sense,” said Brick Johnstone, a neuropsychologist and professor of health psychology in the MU School of Health Professions. “

But for some individuals, even if they have even the smallest degree of negative spirituality – l basically, when individuals believe they're ill because they've done something wrong and God is punishing them – their health is worse.”

Read more: Negative spiritual beliefs associated with more pain and worse physical, mental health

A cosmic sackful of black coal - Part of the Coalsack Nebula in close-up

 

Medley 2 A cosmic sackful of black coal
Coalsack Nebula

The Coalsack Nebula is located about 600 light-years away in the constellation of Crux. This huge, dusky object forms a conspicuous silhouette against the bright, starry band of the Milky Way and for this reason the nebula has been known to people in the southern hemisphere for as long as our species has existed.

The Spanish explorer Vicente Yáñez Pinzón first reported the existence of the Coalsack Nebula to Europe in 1499. The Coalsack later garnered the nickname of the Black Magellanic Cloud, a play on its dark appearance compared to the bright glow of the two Magellanic Clouds, which are in fact satellite galaxies of the Milky Way. These two bright galaxies are clearly visible in the southern sky and came to the attention of Europeans during Ferdinand Magellan's explorations in the 16th century. However, the Coalsack is not a galaxy. Like other dark nebulae, it is actually an interstellar cloud of dust so thick that it prevents most of the background starlight from reaching observers.

Read more: A cosmic sackful of black coal - Part of the Coalsack Nebula in close-up

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