Top 10 breakthroughs for 2011

Physics World has posted an article listing the top 10 physics breakthroughs of 2010. It is a good article, providing a nice overview of each one. One thing is missing though: links to the original papers. Here is my effort to correct that omission.

  1. Aephraim Steinberg: Using weak measurement to determine the average photon trajectories in an analog of Young’s double-slit experiment.

    One thing that gets hammered home in quantum mechanics classes is that if one measures which slits the photons are passing through in the Young double-slit experiment, the interference pattern goes away. This is true, but there are ways to work around that. Hereis a good overview article by Chad Orzel.

  2. Jeff Lundeen: Using weak measurement to map photon wavefunctions.

    Sure, \Psi is not an observable (just its absolute square), but that doesn’t mean we can’t play some statistical games and utilize weak measurements to infer the shape of the wavefunction.

  3. Alexander Gaeta and Martin McCall: Space-time cloaking. (The July 2011 issue of Physics is devoted to this and downloadable here. Kinsler’s website has a page using an excellent analogy to describe this.)
  4. Darach Watson: Using black holes in active galactic nuclei as standard candles for cosmic distance measurements.

  5. Christopher Wilson: Using a SQUID mirror for measuring the dynamical Casimir effect.

  6. Nu Xu et alMeasuring the temperature of the quark/gluon plasma of the early universe.
  7. T2K Collaboration: Observation of neutrino flavour oscillation.

  8. Malte Gather and Seok Hyun Yun: Creating biological lasers. (Alas, not with sharks.)
  9. Matteo Mariantoni: Implementing a quantum version of the “Von Neumann” architecture on a single chip.
    Okay, so this isn’t so much of a physics breakthrough as a technology breakthrough, but it is cool nonetheless. Overview article here.

    • M. Mariantoni, H. Wang, R. C. Bialczak, M. Lenander, E. Lucero, M. Neeley, A. D. O’Connell, D. Sank, M.Weides, J.Wenner, T. Yamamoto, Y. Yin, J. Zhao, J. M. Martinis & A. N. Cleland, “Photon shell game in three-resonator circuit quantum electrodynamics”. Nature Physics, 7, 287-293 (2011). Abstract.
    • M. Neeley, R. C. Bialczak, M. Lenander, E. Lucero, M. Mariantoni, A. D. O’Connell, D. Sank, H.Wang, M.Waides, J.Wenner, Y. Yin, T. Yamamoto, A. N. Cleland & J. M. Martinis, “Generation of three-qubit entangled states using superconducting phase qubits”, Nature, 467, 570–573 (2010). Abstract.
    • L. DiCarlo, M. D. Reed, L. Sun, B. R. Johnson, J. M. Chow, J. M. Gambetta, L. Frunzio, S. M. Girvin, M. H. Devoret & R. J. Schoelkopf, “Preparation and measurement of three-qubit entanglement in a superconducting circuit”, Nature, 467, 574-578 (2010). Abstract.
    • Matteo Mariantoni, H. Wang, T. Yamamoto, M. Neeley, Radoslaw C. Bialczak, Y. Chen, M. Lenander, Erik Lucero, A. D. O’Connell, D. Sank, M. Weides, J. Wenner, Y. Yin, J. Zhao, A. N. Korotkov, A. N. Cleland1, John M. Martinis, “Implementing the Quantum von Neumann Architecture with Superconducting Circuits”, Science, DOI: 10.1126/science.1208517 (published online September 1, 2011). Abstract.
  10. Michele Fumagalli, Xavier Prochaska, and John O’Meara: Observation of pure relic gas clouds left over from the Big Bang, uncontaminated by fusion products from stars or supernovae.


About Glen Mark Martin

MCSE-Messaging. Exchange Administrator at the University of Texas at Austin. Unrepentant armchair physicist.
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