What if you could behave like the crew on the Starship Enterprise and teleport yourself home or anywhere else in the world? As a human, you’re probably not going to realize this anytime soon; if you’re a photon, you might want to keep reading.
Physicists led by Wolfgang Tittel, professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Calgary in Canada, have successfully demonstrated teleportation of a photon (an elementary particle of light) over a straight-line distance of four miles (six kilometers) using The City of Calgary’s fiber optic cable infrastructure.
This accomplishment, which set a new record for distance of transferring a quantum state by teleportation, has landed the researchers a spot in the prestigious Nature Photonics scientific journal. The finding was published back-to-back with a similar demonstration by a group of Chinese researchers.
The experiment is based on the entanglement property of quantum mechanics, also known as “spooky action at a distance”—a property so mysterious that not even Einstein could come to terms with it.
“Being entangled means that the two photons that form an entangled pair have properties that are linked regardless of how far the two are separated,” explains Tittel. “When one of the photons was sent over to City Hall, it remained entangled with the photon that stayed at the University of Calgary.”
Next, the photon whose state was teleported to the university was generated in a third location in Calgary and then also traveled to City Hall where it met the photon that was part of the entangled pair.
“What happened is the disembodied transfer of the photon’s quantum state onto the remaining photon of the entangled pair, which is the one that remained four miles away at the university,” says Tittel.
The research could not be possible without access to the proper technology. One of the critical pieces of infrastructure that support quantum networking is accessible dark fiber. Dark fiber, so named because of its composition—a single optical cable with no electronics or network equipment on the alignment—doesn’t interfere with quantum technology.
This demonstration is arguably one of the most striking manifestations of a puzzling prediction of quantum mechanics, but it also opens the path to building a future quantum internet, the long-term goal of the Tittel group.
Professor Tittel is the Alberta Innovates Technology Futures Strategic Research Chair in Quantum Secured Communications and a Canadian Institute for Advanced Research Senior Fellow. The National Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and an Urban Alliance Seed Grant program also support his research.
(Drew Scherban, University of Calgary, CN:
New Discovery Shatters Previous Beliefs About Earth’s Origin
A new study led by Western University’s all-star cosmo-chemist Audrey Bouvier proves that the Earth and other planetary objects formed in the early years of the Solar System share similar chemical origins—a finding at odds with accepted wisdom held by scientists for decades.
The findings were published in September by the journal Nature.
Bouvier, made the game-changing discovery in collaboration with Maud Boyet from the renowned Magmas and Volcanoes Laboratory at Blaise Pascal University in Clermont-Ferrand, France.
With data uncovered through thermal ionization mass spectrometry, Bouvier and Boyet demonstrated that the Earth and other extraterrestrial objects share the same initial levels of Neodymium-142 (142Nd)—one of seven isotopes found in the chemical element neodymium—which is widely distributed in the Earth’s crust and most commonly used for magnets in commercial products like microphones and in-ear headphones.
In 2005, a small variation in 142Nd was detected between chondrites, which are stony meteorites considered essential building blocks of the Earth, and terrestrial rocks. These results were widely interpreted as an early differentiation of the interior of the Earth (including the crust and mantle) and these chondrites within the first 30 million years of its history.
These new results from Bouvier and Boyet show that these differences in 142Nd were in fact already present during the growth of Earth and not introduced later, as was previously believed.
“How the Earth was formed and what type of planetary materials were part of that formation are issues that have puzzled generations of scientists,” says Bouvier. “And these new isotopic measurements of meteorites provide exciting answers to these questions about our origins and what made the Earth so special.”
By using vastly improved measurement techniques, Bouvier and Boyet deduced that different meteoritical objects found in the Solar System incorporated the elements neodymium (Nd) and samarium (Sm) but with slightly different isotopic compositions. These variations in stable isotopes also show that the Solar System was not uniform during its earliest times and that materials formed from previous generations of stars were incorporated in various proportions into the building blocks of planets.
This study was supported by the National Science Foundation, France-Canada Research Fund, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) CRC, and Discovery Grant programs, the Institute of Earth Sciences of the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), and by ClerVolc, the Clermont-Ferrand Centre for Volcano Research.
Wetlands and Agriculture, Not Fossil Fuels, Seen Behind Global Methane Rise
Research published in September in the American Geophysical Union’s journal Global Biogeochemical Cycles shows that recent rises in levels of methane in our atmosphere is being driven by biological sources, such as swamp gas, cow burps, or rice fields, rather than fossil fuel emissions.
Atmospheric methane is a major greenhouse gas that traps heat in our atmosphere, contributing to global warming. Its levels have been growing strongly since 2007, and in 2014 the growth rate of methane in the atmosphere was double that of previous years, largely driven by biological sources as opposed to fossil fuel emissions.
The study, led by researchers at Royal Holloway, University of London, shows that methane emissions have been increasing, particularly in the tropics. Researchers discovered that biological sources, such as methane emissions from swamps, make up the majority of increase.
“Our results go against conventional thinking that the recent increase in atmospheric methane must be caused by increased emissions from natural gas, oil, and coal production. Our analysis of methane’s isotopic composition clearly points to increased emissions from microbial sources, such as wetlands or agriculture” said lead author Euan Nisbet from Royal Holloway, University of London’s Department of Earth Sciences.
Professor Nisbet says “Atmospheric methane is one of the most potent greenhouse gases. Methane increased through most of the twentieth century, driven largely by leaks from the gas and coal industries.”
He continued, “At the beginning of this century it appeared that the amount of methane in the air was stabilizing, but since 2007 the levels of methane have started growing again. The year 2014 was extreme, with the growth rate doubling, and large increases seen across the globe.”
Professor Nisbet and his team, together with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), have been looking at measurements and samples of air taken from places like Alert in the Canadian Arctic; Ascension, a U.K. territory in the South Atlantic; Cape Point, South Africa.
The research has been carried out by an international team of atmospheric scientists, led by Euan Nisbet, from Royal Holloway, University of London. Ed Dlugokencky, from the NOAA, Martin Manning from Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand, and a team from the University of Colorado’s Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, led by Jim White, have been working with collaborators from the U.K., France, Canada, and South Africa.
Body Ornamentation Among Neanderthals Dig in France Confirmed as Neanderthal Remains
Researchers from the University of York, in Great Britain, have helped to solve an archaeological dispute—confirming that Neanderthals were responsible for producing tools and artifacts previously argued by some to be exclusively in the realm of modern human cognitive abilities.
Using ancient protein analysis, the team took part in an international research project to confirm the disputed origins of bone fragments in Châtelperron, France.
Led by the Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany, researchers set out to settle the debate as to whether hominin remains in the Grotte du Renne, an archaeological site in Arcy-sur-Cure, France, date to Neanderthal ancestry or whether they indicate the first evidence of modern humans in Europe.
Known as the Châtelperronian industry due to numerous artifacts and body ornaments found in this area of central France and northern Spain, the area is critical to the debate regarding the extent of Neanderthal cognition, their replacement by modern humans, and eventual extinction.
Despite intense research, the exact biological nature of the Châtelperronian people has previously been disputed, with no direct molecular data for a Neanderthal association obtained.
However, using peptide mass fingerprinting for rapid, low-cost detection of hominin remains, the team identified 28 additional hominin specimens among previously unidentifiable bone fragments at the Grotte du Renne.
It is thought the bone fragments most likely represent the remains of a single, immature, breastfed individual, with radiocarbon dating being fully consistent with its direct association to Neanderthal ancestry.
Professor Matthew Collins, Director of BioArCh at the University of York’s Department of Archaeology and co-author of the paper, said: “For the first time, this research demonstrates the effectiveness of recent developments in ancient protein amino acid analysis and radiocarbon dating to discriminate between Late Pleistocene clades. To identify proteins related to specific developmental stages of bone formation highlights one of the main strengths of this new analysis, especially in a multi-disciplinary context.
“These methods open up new avenues of research throughout Late Pleistocene contexts in which hominin remains are scarce and where the biological nature of remains is unclear due to ancient DNA not being preserved. This represents a significant advance in palaeoproteomic phylogenetics and is of direct relevance to our understanding of hominin evolution.”
Frido Welker, Ph.D. student at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and lead author, said: “To differentiate between modern humans, Neanderthals, and Denisovans on the basis of ancient protein research, provides really exciting opportunities for future research into the origins of our and their evolutionary history.”
Professor Hublin, at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, adds: “The process of replacement of archaic local populations by modern humans in Eurasia is still poorly understood, as the makers of many palaeolithic tool-kits of this time period remain unknown. This type of research now allows us to extract unrecognizable human fragments out of large archaeological assemblages and to revisit the mode and the tempo of this major event in human evolution with fresh material.”