Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
BLACK FRIDAY DEAL: Trust the World's Fastest VPN with Your Internet Security & Freedom--A Lifetime Subscription of PureVPN at $48 with coupon code "BFRIDAY20" ×
Science

Scientists Capture the Sound Made By a Single Atom 100

Jason Koebler writes Researchers at Columbia University and Sweden's Chalmers University of Technology say that they have, for the first time, "captured" the sound a single atom makes when it is excited—a single "phonon," as it were. So, why do this? For one, the team wanted to simply see if it could capture the softest sound ever made, which is certainly a noble goal. But, secondly, the researchers wanted to explore the quantum nature of sound. Photons have always been used in quantum experiments, but they're pretty hard to manipulate because they're so fast. Phonons move 10^5 slower and thus could make quantum communication easier.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Scientists Capture the Sound Made By a Single Atom

Comments Filter:
  • forest (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    If an atom falls in a forest and no one hears it, did it really make a sound?
    • by flyneye ( 84093 )

      Not until I can load the .wav into any number of samplers/editors/loopers and determine it for myself.
      Vapor-sound carries about as much weight as Uncle Louies fish "this damned long" caught when no one was there with a camera.
      For all I know, it's just some bullshit to stir up funding. I suspect that of a lot of "studies", also several fantastic experiments, loads of papers, several theses and more than one branch of science in general.
      Produce the sound or quit sounding off about it. I'm still waiting for le

      • I'm still waiting for lead to transmute to gold

        You can do that nowadays, it's the reason why nuclear power is sometimes called "The philospohers stone".

    • If an atom falls in a forest and no one hears it, did it really make a sound?

      No... by it's very definition a sound is something that can be heard. According to the article, the vibrations that are made cannot be heard, just measured at some infinitesimal level. Perhaps quantum physics has a different definition of the word sound. But if you expect to hear the pitter patter of little atoms, you, and I, would be sorely disappointed... at least until they figure out how to scale it up to a 10,000 watt quantum sound system.... (grin)

      • by Dahamma ( 304068 )

        Yeah, this.

        If this is all about an excited atom causing other atoms around it to move in a chain reaction (which is what we already know eventually causes our ear drums to vibrate, get converted to neurological signals to the brain and perceive "sound") then it pretty much seems like the most ridiculous waste of time and money in an experiment of which everyone knew the outcome I have heard of in a long while. So they built a super-sensitive electronic ear drum - big deal. This is not physics research, i

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by tburkhol ( 121842 )

          If this is all about an excited atom causing other atoms around it to move in a chain reaction (which is what we already know eventually causes our ear drums to vibrate, get converted to neurological signals to the brain and perceive "sound") then it pretty much seems like the most ridiculous waste of time and money in an experiment of which everyone knew the outcome I have heard of in a long while.

          I disagree. The macroscopic phenomenon of sound comes from vast numbers of atoms acting in aggregate, and their effect dissipates rapidly as the initial energy is spread across more and more atoms. That can't happen at the quantum level. These folks suggest that, at a small enough level, the interaction becomes quantized, such that "sound" energy might transfer from one atom to exactly one other atom. ie, that the "billiard ball" model of atoms bouncing off each other can be reduced to a quantal exchang

      • by Anonymous Coward

        This concept also applies when scientists claim to "see" atoms in their electron microscopes. They are, in fact, just seeing their display screens. The data of science are now far removed from the senses, yet we still prefer to use sensual terms.

      • by judoguy ( 534886 )
        In the same way that light isn't light if no one sees it? I disagree.
    • Re:forest (Score:5, Funny)

      by jandersen ( 462034 ) on Friday September 12, 2014 @07:24AM (#47888429)

      We are talking about EXCITED atoms here - what they say is 'Wheeeee'.

    • I thought Eve fell in the forest.

      Oh, though you said Adam in some Garden.
      Anyway, according to my wife it was atoms fault.
    • You might want to read up on the ground breaking research by Dr. Wonhan Clapping.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I felt a tiny disturbance in the Force, as if a single voice suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something insignificant has happened.

  • by students ( 763488 ) on Thursday September 11, 2014 @10:32PM (#47886723) Homepage Journal

    When the summary puts the word in quotes it implies it is not the standard term for a quantum of sound, which it is.

    Measurement of single phonons is actually well established. I have done it several times. The paper actually describes a piezoelectrically coupled superconducting qubit, which is pretty cool.

    • I think it's in quotes because it's not an established word for people outside your(physics?) discourse community.

      • If one wants to put emphasis on a non-established term, then maybe the <em> tag is more suitable than quotes. One might even link [wikipedia.org] to an explanation of the word.

        • by geogob ( 569250 )

          Exactly correct. In addition, a believe the commenter wanted to point out that it IS an established term, albeit one not often used in the context of quantum physics.

      • by geogob ( 569250 )

        Every one who followed a lecture on solid state physics should know what a phonon is. And I mean a first year lecture, not one of those fancy specialization.
        This implies a lot of people never heard of it... but also that a lot of people did (or should have).

    • by macraig ( 621737 ) <mark...a...craig@@@gmail...com> on Thursday September 11, 2014 @11:28PM (#47886959)

      ... piezoelectrically coupled superconducting qubit, which is pretty cool.

      I saw what you did there, and it was pretty cool.

    • So, I've never heard of a phonon. But I'm not in physics.

      What I am laughing at is that they "captured" the sound ... they've almost gone full on Dr. Evil air quotes ... Mini Me, stop humping the "laser". Honest to God! Why don't you and the giant "laser" get a fricken room for God's sakes?

  • I now have this image of the scientists hearing "Yeeee-hah" as the atom slams into another atom, splitting it, while waving it's tiny little cowboy hat...
  • Bwah bow chicky bow bow, bwah bow chicky bow bow!

    (alternatively, "Hey baby, I'm excited! Let's share some electrons and get covalent!")

  • That's a new one. What does it mean?

    • by Nemyst ( 1383049 )
      10^-5 faster, evidently.
    • 15
      10 xor 5 = 15
      1010 xor 0101 = 1111

    • It's just a way of defining that the waveform is emitted at a fraction of the speed of the phoTon.
      This may also relate to the waveform that the photon travels at. Thus it's light frequency is governed by the collective frequency of the atoms in the element that is excited to emit photons. (Laypersons terms) This changes my perspective on why the color LEDs emit depends on the chemicals used.
  • Link to an Ogg for Flac file? We want to hear it, not just read about it.
    • by kolbe ( 320366 )

      Nope! Nothing to hear since it was "an artificial atom". Meaning, they were not really even listening in the first place, but rather determining if it could be done.

    • I've heard it. It you listen real closely, you can hear it say a very tiny "ouch!"
    • by 2fuf ( 993808 )

      FTA:
      > this is the part in the story where we'd link to a clip of the atom's audio, but it's so soft that it's not even audible

      Apparently the meaning of the word "capture" has a different meaning Sweden

  • by no-body ( 127863 ) on Thursday September 11, 2014 @10:52PM (#47886823)

    where is the air carrying the sound - or is there a new definition of "sound of the newer kind"?

  • "Phonon", my ass. Is this "science" targeted at idiots? Really, we do not need any more BS masquerading as science.

  • Upload the donk or it's debonked.
  • If they claim it's sound, I want to hear it. Sound files, or it didn't happen.
  • Q: If an atom slams into another atom in the forest, and nobody is around to hear it, did it make a phonon or not? A: Yes.
  • by ksandom ( 718283 ) on Friday September 12, 2014 @01:55AM (#47887359) Homepage
    For those, like me, who couldn't find it in the article; I speculate it sounded like this "WHEEEeeeeeeEEEEeeeeEEEEeeeEEEEeeeeEE!"
  • I am excited myself at reading of singing excited atoms.
  • It was said to sound ominously like clapping.

  • It's one thing to know what the sound of a single excited atom is but, as they say on the internets - pics or it didn't happen.

    Though, now that I think about it, I guess if it's just one atom, you're really more in the vein of Turning Japanese.

  • What does it sound like when it's bored?

  • > capture the softest sound ever made

    Scientist 1: "Data incoming...recording...recording...got it!"

    Scientist 2: "Ok, now amplify it. What does it sound like?!?!?"

    Computer speaker: "Hssssss ssss sssI'm popular on Slashdot. Will you go out with me?"

  • .. . . . . been there, heard it already!

    Ooooommmmm . . . .ooooommmmmm. . . .ooooommmmm.. . .those atom sounds can be might tedious!

Real computer scientists don't program in assembler. They don't write in anything less portable than a number two pencil.

Working...