Life, Love, and Lonicera: my new “double A-side single” featuring a Pseudo Gabriel pastiche “Push the Button” (think the big time sledgehammer) and my feverish pre-festival falsetto in “Wild Honeysuckle” a song of sexuality on steroids…
We know it's all electrified and open to abuse
But schmooze it up, confuse it up it is the only muse
Moody freelance science journalist, David Bradley (aka sciencebase) famed for his depressing socia media avatar and miserable lack of photogenicity, cracked the lens today when his daughter snapped a few photos of him pensively and pointlessly propped up against the headstock of his Fender Telecaster Guitar. In one of 27 headshots, Bradley is actually seen to be smiling at the camera. The photograph has now been quickly uploaded to the Gravatar servers, and used to replace his Twitter avatar and his Facebook profile photo before his mood changes. There were three seconds of absolute stunned silence across the whole of social media and in science laboratories the world over as a mark of respect. Frontpages have been held…
Having abandoned that infamous cloud-based sound site for sharing my cover versions and switching to a “video” format on Youtube, I’m now also looking at Beat100 as a neat way to get the word out. I’ve only posted a couple of my covers on there so far. Quite gratifying to see the votes roll in and to win a Silver A&R Award from them for my cover of Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street, “for a strong vocal or musical performance”. My cover of Seals & Crofts’ Summer Breeze similarly received a bronze award.
If you’re into music and want to check out a different kind of music discovery site, then Beat100 is for you, the links in this post will give my account a little boost, so do use them if you’re interested.
Not quite in the words of the 1978 Genesis hit “Follow you, follow me”, I took a look at Twitter dashboard and found that there is a neat Top 9 (don’t ask) of twitter users who a lot of people who follow @sciencebase also follow
My choral friend Jo mentioned making “poisonous” orange juice when she was a nipper and giving it to a boy she and her friends didn’t like. Apparently, they crushed up some bits of plants, including foxgloves, which of course contain digitalin, the heart drug. Add enough of that to his OJ and they could’ve been in serious trouble. Just as well there was no belladonna (deadly nighshade) or monkshood (Devil’s Helmet or wolfsbane).
Anyway talking of serious trouble…as a kid I was always messing around with magnets and motors, batteries and bulbs, iron filings, little circuits, broken radios (well they were broken after I’d messed around with them), watches, telescopes, magnifying glasses and stuff. But, by aged 9 or 10 I’d taken my first foray into chemistry. I’d got hold of a little stoppered plastic vial and mixed up some washing-up liquid and water and added some of the 3-in-1 oil I usually drizzled on to the chain and into the little holes on the underside of my bike. I don’t remember what I was trying to do with this, my first chemistry experiment. Obviously, the mixture would have formed some kind of mucky emulsion. Hashtag #JuvenileAlchemy.
Anyway, I remember some snitch reported me to my teacher when they saw me shaking my vial behind the bike sheds (no, that is not a euphemism!). I got hauled in to see the headmaster, I think my parents were dragged in too. Of course, the vial with its gloopy contents was confiscated but not before the headmaster had a good sniff. I’m not sure what any of the adults thought I had been up to. I was just naively doing chemistry. Maybe they thought I was abusing solvents or sniffing glue or something, but at age 9 I didn’t even know that was a thing…
I almost certainly had an idea from a science library book, I used to read three or four each evening at that age. Anyway, the experience put me off chemistry for years and so I went back to messing with magnets (again, not a euphemism) and I seem to remember trying to make an electromagnet from a chunk of steel from my Dad’s toolbox and a bit of insulated wire that I jabbed into the wall socket…oh dear…did I mention I was a bit naive, almost electrocuted myself, needless to say. Still, at least I didn’t try to give anyone a heart attack with poisonous orange juice, eh?
Tiny "mirrors" that can trap light around impurities within a diamond can boost the efficiency with which photons transmit information about the electronic spin states of those impurity atoms. The production of these spin-photon interfaces could be essential to the development of interconnected quantum memory devices that might be used in quantum computation and long-distance cryptographic systems.
Dirk Englund’s team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge USA, working with colleagues at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Long Island, New York, have demonstrated that the memory encoded in the electron spin state, the spin-coherence time, can persist for 200 microseconds or more; this is a record for quantum memories in such photonic traps. [Englund et al., Nature Commun. (2015), DOI: 10.1038/ncomms7173]
"Our research demonstrates a technique to extend the storage time of quantum memories in solids that are efficiently coupled to photons, which is essential to scaling up such quantum memories for functional quantum computing systems and networks," explains Englund.
The impurity atoms present in the diamond crystals studied by Englund and colleagues are nitrogen-vacancy (NV) centers. These consist of a nitrogen atom in the place of a carbon atom, adjacent to a crystal vacancy within the diamond lattice. The spin state of the center can be either up or down thus providing the "0" or "1" of binary code. Microwaves radiation can be used to manipulate the spin state and because the "0" state has a greater fluorescence than the "1" state, the researchers can use an optical microscope to read the quantum memory.
However, in order to be useful for carrying out logical operations of the kind that underpin computation, the spin states must be stable for a sufficient length of time. "It is already possible to transfer information about the electron spin state via photons, but we have to make the interface between the photons and electrons more efficient," Englund explains. Unfortunately, photons and electrons interact only very weakly. To boost the interaction, the team built an optical cavity around the NV to trap the photons using a transferred hard mask lithography technique. The cavity, nanofabricated at BNL by MIT graduate student Luozhou Li, working with BNL staff scientist Ming Lu, is made from layers of diamond and air tightly spaced around the impurity atom of the NV center. Reflection occurs at each interface between the layers so that photons entering bounce back and forth up to 10000 times, which boosts the interaction with the electrons in the NV center.
"These methods have given us a great starting point for translating information between the spin states of the electrons among multiple NV quantum memories," explains Englund. "These results are an important part of validating the scientific promise of NV-cavity systems for quantum networking."
No matter how good a photographer you are, blurry photographs will happen. It’s an undeniable fact of every photographer’s life. Professional photographers understand how and why blurry pictures occur, and do everything in their power to keep it in check. Beginners need to remember a couple of things to avoid blurry photos. At the moment, the only thing that you need to know is that blur is created by motion or by optics. Let’s look at why blurry images occur and the solution in each case.