For the last week, Curiosity has been grabbing a lot of attention (and deservedly so). We won’t be seeing much from the rover this weekend, as it is currently getting a software update installed. (A great resource for following what is happening with Curiosity is Emily Lakdawalla’s blog over at the Planetary Society website. I highly recommend it. The detailed background info she provides in her posts is wonderful.)
But, as intriguing as the Curiosity adventure is, the rest of the scientific community hasn’t been standing still. No sirree!
First of all, a research team in China has reported a record-breaking quantum entanglement experiment across a 97 kilometer lake. (Take that, Olympians!) This is no small feat. Entangled quantum states are very fragile and difficult to maintain. And, no, despite the term “teleportation” being used in stories about such experiments, this has nothing to do with developing transporter technology a la “Star Trek.” (I really do need to put together an article providing an in-depth description of the phenomenon. It is an area of research having its roots back in the early days of quantum mechanics, with a famous 1935 paper on the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paradox and eventually leading to Bell’s theorem.) But quantum computing researchers have ample reason to be excited.
- Open-air quantum teleportation performed across a 97km lake | Ars Technica
- Quantum Teleportation Achieved over Record Distances | Observations, Scientific American Blog Network
- Quantum teleportation and entanglement distribution over 100-kilometre free-space channels : Nature : Nature Publishing Group
The Sloan Digital Sky Survey has made its 9th data release. This motherload of data, compiled by the BOSS (Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey) spectrograph, contains position, distance, and redshift data for over 500,000 galaxies. I would dearly love to be able to take a few weeks off from my day job just to crunch through the numbers….
- The Ninth SDSS Data Release (DR9) – SDSS-III
- The Ninth Data Release of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey III « Science Blog from the SDSS-III
- New 3-D Map of Massive Galaxies and Distant Black Holes Offers Clues to Dark Matter and Dark Energy – SDSS-III
- SDSS-III Collaboration: Ahn C. P. et al. 2012, The Ninth Data Release of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey: First Spectroscopic Data from the SDSS-III Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey, submitted to Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series and available on the arXiv preprint server (1207.7137).
- BOSS Makes the Biggest Chunk of the Universe Yet Available to the Public – Information Technology Division – Berkeley Lab Commons
- Unveiled: The Most Complete Map of the Universe Ever Made | 80beats | Discover Magazine
It is generally a mistake to conflate weather with climate. A few heat waves and droughts on their own do not constitute evidence of global warming. However, viewed collectively, extreme whether events can be shown to have a statistical correlation to climate change, and that is precisely what has been shown in recent work by James Hansen.
- Is it hot in here, or is it just global warming? | Bad Astronomy | Discover Magazine
- Perception of climate change
- NASA – Research Links Extreme Summer Heat Events to Global Warming
- State of the Climate | National Overview | July 2012
Meanwhile, the Z Machine at Sandia National Labs has been getting some love in the media of late, thanks to an article at io9. I got to see a precursor of the Z machine back in the 80’s while I was an undergrad. It was a truly impressive piece of hardware.
- How astronomers use the world’s largest x-ray generator to create white dwarfs on Earth
- Texas Science – News from the College of Natural Sciences » Blog Archive » The Art and Science of Making White Dwarfs in the Desert