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Scientists Create 'Fastest Man-Made Spinning Object' 159

Posted by Soulskill
from the 'round-and-'round dept.
dryriver sends this news from the BBC: "A team of researchers claims to have created the world's fastest spinning man-made object. They were able to levitate and spin a microscopic sphere at speeds of up to 600 million revolutions per minute. This spin speed is half a million times faster than a domestic washing machine and more than a thousand times faster than a dental drill. The work by the University of St Andrews scientists is published in Nature Communications. Although there is much international research exploring what happens at the boundary between classical physics and quantum physics, most of this experimental work uses atoms or molecules. To do this they manufactured a microscopic sphere of calcium carbonate only four millionths of a meter in diameter. The team then used the minuscule forces of laser light to hold the sphere with the radiation pressure of light — rather like levitating a beach ball with a jet of water. They exploited the property of polarization of the laser light that changed as the light passed through the levitating sphere, exerting a small twist or torque. Placing the sphere in vacuum largely removed the drag due to any gas environment, allowing the team to achieve the very high rotation rates. In addition to the rotation, the team observed a 'compression' of the excursions or 'wobble' of the particle in all three dimensions, which can be understood as a 'cooling' of the motion. Essentially the particle behaved like the world's smallest gyroscope, stabilizing its motion around the axis of rotation."
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Scientists Create 'Fastest Man-Made Spinning Object'

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  • by smitty_one_each (243267) * on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @06:14PM (#44701141) Homepage Journal
    "You guys ain't even seen angular velocity until you've seen my press conference work."
    • A statement like that could only be made at a physics conference.
      • Summary wtf (Score:1, Troll)

        by noh8rz10 (2716597)
        Ftfs:

        They were able to levitate and spin a microscopic sphere at speeds of up to 600 million revolutions per minute. This spin speed is half a million times faster than a domestic washing machine

        wtf? Washing machines spin at 599.5 million rpm?

        • by spazdor (902907)

          What exactly do you think the word "times" means?

        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          Epic math fail! 600 million / 500,000 = 7500. Actually no, epic simple arithmetic fail.

  • Hey I know! (Score:5, Funny)

    by bmo (77928) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @06:18PM (#44701153)

    "A team of researchers claims to have created the world's fastest spinning man-made object."

    A politician?

    --
    BMO

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      "A team of researchers claims to have created the world's fastest spinning man-made object."

      A politician?

      --
      BMO

      A marketer or political consultant - if they had quantum numbers, well, they'd be quantum!

      • by Lumpy (12016)

        Nope, a Fox news talking head.

        • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

          by bmo (77928)

          Nope, a Fox news talking head.

          No, they are talking assholes.

          They are assholes that have been taught to talk and migrated to the top of their bodies.

          The Man Who Taught His Asshole to Talk
          Tags: Dr Benway, Naked Lunch, Texts by Burroughs, William Burroughs
          (aka âoeThe Talking Asshole Routineâ from Naked Lunch)
          William S. Burroughs

          Did I ever tell you about the man who taught his asshole to talk? His whole abdomen would move up and down you dig farting out the words. It was unlike anything I ever heard.

          T

        • by Dishevel (1105119)

          Nope, a Fox news talking head.

          Because the right are the only spinners out there.

          I love idiots like you. Pick a side that makes you feel good and root for them. Hate the other guy and watch as the other side ruins the country. It does not matter. You are a fool. Neither side wants an informed, empowered public. They want you watching "So you think you can dance" on the left and "Duck Dynasty" on the right. While they pass laws that they are immune from.

          You here all the talk about how Washington has exempted themselves from the very law

    • by Bringer128 (2261266) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @08:20PM (#44702107)
      No, a cat with a peanut butter sandwich attached to its back.
    • No, Schrödinger. That's why we keep hearing the cat-story being represented as fact. A couple of more times, and they might exceed 700mio rpm.
    • by ketomax (2859503)
      Let us have a beyblade battle with two of these.
  • ...the politician jokes!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Today's XKCD is strangely applicable to the summary.

    http://xkcd.com/1257/

    • Came here for that, left satisfied.
    • His body doesn't count as a man-made object, or this wouldn't have broken the record.

      • His body doesn't count as a man-made object, or this wouldn't have broken the record.

        Indeed -- we aren't discussing woman-made objects here.

    • by Guru80 (1579277)
      Score: 5, Funny doesn't do this post justice. Well played, sir!
    • just to play Nancy NoFun: Jefferson expected these kinds of abuses and advocated appropriate responses to it. That's why he's classified as an extremist by DoD these days.

  • by tool462 (677306) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @06:46PM (#44701379)

    I spent most of the time I was reading the summary trying to come up with some really clever/sarcastic/funny comment (Electrons spin faster! -- um, no that's lame. I got it, if you spin it backwards, it just says "Paul is dead" in a chipmunk voice.)

    But then I got to this:

    The team then used the minuscule forces of laser light to hold the sphere with the radiation pressure of light — rather like levitating a beach ball with a jet of water. They exploited the property of polarization of the laser light that changed as the light passed through the levitating sphere, exerting a small twist or torque.

    That is so indescribably cool I just had to let that stand on its own. There is so much physics wrapped up in this one experiment.
    I'll just leave it at an obligatory XKCD:
    Science, it works bitches. [xkcd.com]

    • by roc97007 (608802)

      > I got it, if you spin it backwards, it just says "Paul is dead" in a chipmunk voice.

      I dunno, I think that's pretty funny.

  • Backstory (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Azure Flash (2440904) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @06:59PM (#44701497)
    I know the team member who first suggested this research. As a kid, he was obsessed with spinning tops, bicycle wheels and everything else he could find that spins really fast. Looks like that passion of his spun out of control as he grew older!
    • by LiavK (2867503)

      I know the team member who first suggested this research. As a kid, he was obsessed with spinning tops, bicycle wheels and everything else he could find that spins really fast. Looks like that passion of his spun out of control as he grew older!

      I could you could say it... spun out of control.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I know the team member who first suggested this research. As a kid, he was obsessed with spinning tops, bicycle wheels and everything else he could find that spins really fast. Looks like that passion of his spun out of control as he grew older!

        I could you could say it... spun out of control.

        I did he did say that.

  • by Esion Modnar (632431) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @07:00PM (#44701501)
    Is the fastest spinning object, man-made or otherwise? Looking for some perspective on this.
    • Probably a Pulsar or something like that.

    • Re:So Then What (Score:5, Informative)

      by femtobyte (710429) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @07:41PM (#44701827)

      Well, once you get into the quantum mechanical realm, you can get things "spinning" pretty darn fast, though you require increasingly "nuanced" definitions of what "spin" means as you transition from the familiar world of classical mechanics to quantum-mechanical systems.

      The magnetic moment of a proton in a 1T magnetic field precesses at ~2.7*10^8 Hz (which produces the signals that NMR looks at).
      Put an electron in a 1T magnetic field, and it is precessing at ~2.7*10^11 Hz.

      A proton's "intrinsic spin" of hbar/2, for an object with the mass and radius of a proton (~1GeV/c^2, ~10^-15m), would "classically" be equivalent to something spinning at hbar/(2*r^2*m) ~ 6.3*10^22 Hz. An electron has an intrinsic spin oh hbar/2, and a size of 0, "equivalent" to an object "spinning" infinitely fast... of course, at this point, it doesn't make much sense to describe the quantum mechanical spin as though it were a "classical" spinning object.

      • by Brad1138 (590148)

        definitions of what "spin" means

        OK Bill...

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        This isn't a subatomic particle, it's multiple atoms. The "spin" here is like a top spinning, not "spin" as when you're talking about subatomic particles.

        You knew that, but people reading your comment might not have.

        • by femtobyte (710429)

          The point, though, is that asking "what's the fastest spinning object" is a subtle question without a well-defined answer if by "fastest" you mean "rotations per unit time." You can move from a big, spinning ensemble of atoms, to a rotating diatomic molecule, to electrons "orbiting" an atom, to intrinsic spin in subatomic particles --- getting "faster and faster," but moving at each step from where the "classical limit" of quantum mechanics is a sensible description to where it isn't (and where "rotations p

        • The "spin" here is like a top spinning, not "spin" as when you're talking about subatomic particles.

          Of all the examples... At first I thought it was just strange, but I decided I wasn't down with the way you're trying to confuse people; those who want to get to the bottom of this can look it up, so don't expect to charm your way out of this one!

  • Chuck Norris does not spin his right foot around and roundhouse kick you in the face. He spins the world with his left foot.
  • by WSOGMM (1460481) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @08:21PM (#44702115)

    Optical trapping can sometimes make use of radiation pressure, but that's generally not how you optically trap a particle, nor is that how they did it. Radiation pressure is characterized by absorption and reflection (like tennis balls hitting a wall). To trap a particle, you use refraction (when modeling the system with ray optics).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiation_pressure [wikipedia.org]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Optical_tweezers [wikipedia.org]

    The change in index of refraction between water (or air) and your particle causes the light rays to "change direction" as they enter and leave the particle. There is a net momentum transferred to the particle in the direction of the focus of the laser beam, thus trapping the particle at the focus.

  • by elistan (578864)

    This spin speed is half a million times faster than a domestic washing machine and more than a thousand times faster than a dental drill.

    ORLY?
    Obligatory xkcd: (from today, no less) http://xkcd.com/1257/ [xkcd.com]

  • I'd like to encode some data in one of these spheres and have these fine gentlemen rotate it at light speed to send it and its information back in time. Why should Biff Tanen have all the luck?
  • Now I can understand that the BBC felt the need to fill the article with stupid comparisons [xkcd.com], but why can't the summary here just replace them with ellipses for the sake of the presumably more technical readership here? One would think that the typical slashdot reader would understand 600 Mrpm just fine and wouldn't need such twaddle as "This spin speed is half a million times faster than a domestic washing machine and more than a thousand times faster than a dental drill" for edification.

    Yeah, yea

  • seriously, how do you measure 600 000 000 revolutions per minute on a microscopic sized ball?

  • ...will it drain all the mana in vicinity?

  • Murrica!

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