Physicists create a quantum rotor that makes 60 billion revolutions per minute
Built in a vacuum, this little dynamo is challenging the boundaries of physics.
A nanoparticle has been created by scientists, shaped like a dumbbell and made of silica, and they have successfully set it spinning in a vacuum at 60,000,000,000 revolutions per minute. Yes—60 billion.
That makes it the fastest human-made rotor in history. It can spin a dazzling 100,000 times faster than a high-speed dentist drill.
Called an “optically levitated nanodumbbell" in their abstract, one of the lead researchers, Tongcang Li of Indiana's Purdue University, explained a bit more. "This study has many applications, including material science. We can study the extreme conditions different materials can survive in."
Members of the team also included scientists from Peking University, Tsinghua University, Collaborative Innovation Center of Quantum Matter and Sandia National Laboratories. They are not, however, the only team working on such a project.
The laser involved in this study to act as an optical "tweezer" can work in a straight line or a circle; when operating in straight-line mode, the rotor simply vibrates. It’s when they changed the laser to circular mode that they saw these incredible results.
This little device will eventually be used to study quantum mechanics and also to explore the properties of operating in a vacuum, where things like friction and gravity change. Don't get your hopes up about watching it work, however; the particle is about the size of a bacterium.
“People say that there is nothing in vacuum, but in physics, we know it’s not really empty,” Dr. Li said.
“There are a lot of virtual particles which may stay for a short time and then disappear.”
“We want to figure out what’s really going on there.”
In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.
- The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
- Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
- Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
Military recruits are supposed to be assessed to see whether they're fit for service. What happens when they're not?
- During the Vietnam War, Robert McNamara began a program called Project 100,000.
- The program brought over 300,000 men to Vietnam who failed to meet minimum criteria for military service, both physically and mentally.
- Project 100,000 recruits were killed in disproportionate numbers and fared worse after their military service than their civilian peers, making the program one of the biggest—and possibly cruelest—mistakes of the Vietnam War.
The 116th Congress is set to break records in term of diversity among its lawmakers, though those changes are coming almost entirely from Democrats.
- Women and nonwhite candidates made record gains in the 2018 midterms.
- In total, almost half of the newly elected Congressional representatives are not white men.
- Those changes come almost entirely from Democrats; Republican members-elect are all white men except for one woman.
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