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Science

Physicists Create 'Quantum Knots' (amherst.edu) 51

New submitter Kekke writes with news that researchers from Amherst College and Aalto University have figured out a way to create knotted solitary waves in a quantum-mechanical field. They call their creation "quantum knots". Professor David Hall said, "First we cooled a gas of rubidium atoms down to billionths of a degree above zero, at which point it became a superfluid—a tiny, well-ordered environment in which these particle-like objects can exist. Then we exposed the superfluid to a rapid change of a specifically tailored magnetic field, which tied the knot in less than a thousandth of a second." Research group leader Mikko Möttönen added, "For decades, physicists have been theoretically predicting that it should be possible to have knots in quantum fields, but nobody else has been able to make one. Now that we have seen these exotic beasts, we are really excited to study their peculiar properties."

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Physicists Create 'Quantum Knots'

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  • until you look at them.
  • by TheReaperD ( 937405 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2016 @07:47PM (#51333213)

    I read TFA and I'm still not sure what the importance or application of this is. Is this just to make therotical physicists sqee or are there anticipated important properties or applications?

    • by Baloroth ( 2370816 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2016 @08:10PM (#51333313)

      AFAIK there are no directly anticipated applications. However, knotted fields are incredibly cool and interesting physical objects (if you're into that kinda thing). Of course, formation of novel magnetic fields could have applications in fusion research or quantum computing, but the idea behind theoretical physics research like this is to figure out how things work, and let the engineers and applied physicists figure out the applications (if they exist) later on. It's worked pretty well so far. And confirming that nature actually works like it's been predicted to work is a worthy endeavor in and of itself, even if it turns out to have no applications at all.

      • Thank you. I agree that science for science sake is actually a good thing. The problem I was having as not being a physics type of geek was that the information wasn't reaching my level.

      • OK, can we start calling these things Warped Fields, or Warp fields yet? :) Now we just have to start factoring them (I suggest a metric scale of 1 to 10)!

        Though I know not really related to this quantum topic, but as far as applied physics, if I remember correctly (and I perhaps don't) that new exotic fusion reactor that the Germans built, used warped magnetic fields to contain plasma... Or it could be they just use magnetic fields to contain plasma and the reactor itself is warped shaped, which I guess wo

    • If this leads to a means of rapidly computing solutions in knot theory that are currently very difficult to solve then it is a big deal, and if that is also applicable to string theory who knows, it could be worth a Nobel Prize eventually.

      But what would I know, I know just enough to think this when I read the article, https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]
    • by ClickOnThis ( 137803 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2016 @08:25PM (#51333371) Journal

      I read TFA and I'm still not sure what the importance or application of this is. Is this just to make therotical physicists sqee or are there anticipated important properties or applications?

      What use is a newborn baby?
      -- attributed in various forms to Benjamin Franklin and to Michael Faraday

      • What use is a newborn baby?

        They're a great reminder for guys to wear a condom.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        A newborn baby satisfies one's instinctual need to care for another living thing. It also injects a feeling of significance into a person's life, which is another important psychological need. Lastly, it elevates one's status within many social circles.

        There are other benefits (such as tax benefits and gifts and the like), but they are overcompensated-for by the costs, so I don't think they qualify.

        My point being...the question was intended as rhetorical, and yet it isn't, as it it has a solid answer.

        • A newborn baby satisfies one's instinctual need to care for another living thing. It also injects a feeling of significance into a person's life, which is another important psychological need. Lastly, it elevates one's status within many social circles.

          Fair points, but consider this:

          A new scientific discovery satisfies one's instinctual need to find things out. It also injects a feeling of significance into a person's life, which is another important psychological need. Lastly, it elevates one's status within many social circles.

          They both fit, don't they?

        • A newborn will also learn the humans that take care of it in root fashion and develop a deconstructed model of their parent' interface at an intuitive level.

          In short, newborns eventually teach parents more about themselves than the parents can learn without them.

          Kind of like science. Each new scientific discovery teaches us more about ourselves. We learn what we do with novel ideas. Mostly exploit, dominate, and divert ourselves and each other, but hey, we're only human.

    • by nytes ( 231372 )

      This is the first step toward creating quantum shampoo, so you can wash the entanglements out of your quantum threads.

    • Not sure of the importance

      You don't belong here [tumblr.com]

    • by dywolf ( 2673597 )

      wouldn't be the first time a concept was discovered and not exploited in an application for years, sometimes decades.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    If you keep picking at it you're gonna undo reality.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Supercooled gasses... What is space filled with?

    It will be at least 100 years before we understand the implications of this. Unless someone gives it to us.

  • by frank_adrian314159 ( 469671 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2016 @08:16PM (#51333329) Homepage

    A string walks into a bar. The bartender looks at him and yells, "Get out! We don't serve your kind in here."

    The string walks out and walks back in a few minutes later looking beat up and disheveled. The bartender looks at him and says menacingly, "Aren't you that string that was in here a couple minutes ago?"

    The string looks at the bartender and says, "No. I'm a frayed knot."

    • THIS got voted funny? One of the 3 jokes banned from rec.humor.funny? One of the jokes that reached every corner of the pre-EternalSeptember Internet, never to be successfully wiped out?

      Get offa my lawn you young punk upvoters!
      (and don't even THINK about posting bell-ringer or mouse-ball jokes)

  • But first (Score:2, Funny)

    by p0p0 ( 1841106 )
    First they created quantum headphones, and the knots came easy. They had to keep constant watch on the headphones to prevent them knotting to such an extent that it tears the fabric of reality and our universe becomes intertwined the endless knotting of time and space.
    They've got one intern and a 20 gallon drum of eye drops. Fingers crossed (or knotted).
  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2016 @10:51PM (#51333871)

    ... look forward to quantum Shibari.

"It doesn't much signify whom one marries for one is sure to find out next morning it was someone else." -- Rogers

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