A weak radio signal isn’t only a problem when you’re trying to tune in to your favorite radio station, a weak signal is a huge problem for MRIs in hospitals and telescopes peering into space.
Normally we fix a weak signal by moving closer to the source or picking a different radio station but what if instead, we could just listen more carefully? Scientists at Delft University of Technology have created a quantum circuit that enables them to listen to the weakest radio signal allowed by quantum mechanics. Their research was published Friday in the journal Science.
Not Your Grandpa’s Radio
One quirk of quantum mechanics is the theory that energy can only come in set units, called “quanta”. It is only possible to have whole units, nothing in between. “Say I am pushing a kid on a swing,” said lead researcher Mario Gely, “In the classical theory of physics, if I want the kid to go a little bit faster I can give them a small push, giving them more speed and more energy. Quantum mechanics says something different: I can only increase the kid’s energy one ‘quantum step’ at a time. Pushing by half of that amount is not possible.”
Before the Delft team developed their circuit we could only adjust radio signals in the form of “a small push” or a tiny imprecise amount. With a new quantum circuit, researchers are able to tune to specific quanta of radio frequencies. The more precise frequencies could help improve the accuracy of MRIs and radio telescopes but may also teach us even more about quantum mechanics, gravity, and physics.
The Delft team’s quantum circuit could help lead to new avenues of scientific discovery. They next hope to explore the way gravity interacts with quantum physics, something that still puzzles physicists today.
“Using our quantum radio, we want to try to listen to and control the quantum vibrations of heavy objects, and explore experimentally what happens when you mix quantum mechanics and gravity”, Gely said. “Such experiments are hard, but if successful we would be able to test if we can make a quantum superposition of space-time itself.”
Quantum spacetime is a theory of mathematical physics in which some variables of spacetime are slightly different than they usually are, leading to a slightly different mathematical understanding of our universe. The proposed quantum superposition experiment is one which Gely says would “test our understanding of both quantum mechanics and general relativity.”
READ MORE: Listening to Quantum Radio [Deflt University of Technology]
Scientists revived the brains of pigs who died a few hours ago
When a human or animal dies, the brain “goes off” and there is no going back. However, a recent experiment shows how the brains of dead pigs can restore some functions hours after death.
A group of scientists at Yale University was able to observe how they restored circulation and cellular activity in the brains of dead pigs four hours after death.
The findings challenge the long-known understandings of time and the irreversible nature of cessation of brain function after death.
“The intact brain of a large mammal retains a previously underestimated capacity for restoring circulation and certain cellular and molecular activities several hours after circulatory arrest,” says Nenad Sestan, lead author and professor of neuroscience, comparative medicine, genetics, and psychiatry. , in the study published in the journal Nature.
Science believes that the brain loses signs of consciousness and electrical activity seconds after the brain loses oxygen and bloodstream. The energy in the brain is also lost minutes later. The cells die, and it can not be reversed. The molecular alterations then activate the generalized degeneration of the brain.
But this process has changed, as the researchers observed that in some small tissue samples that they collected about two hours before they showed some signs of cell life.
The scientists obtained dead pigs from a meat packing factory and put them in a specially formulated chemical solution. Interested in their theories, the researchers got processed pigs for food production to see the extent of postmortem brain viability.
After four hours, they connected the vasculature of the brain to disseminate the solution they formulated to preserve brain tissue through a system called BrainEx. In fact, some of the functions of the brain were restored after the experiment.
The system can help researchers perform specific techniques to study the structure and function of a large and intact mammalian brain. The impossibility of doing so prevents scientists from going deeper into issues such as the causes of brain disorders.
Stefano G. Daniele, co-first author of the study, explains that, in the past, scientists could only investigate the brain of large mammals with a two-dimensional approach and use small samples of tissue outside their natural environment. Now, they can study the brain in three dimensions, which amplifies their ability to study complex cell processes and connectivity problems.
But scientists have also emphasized that the brains involved in the study had no detectable electrical signals linked to normal brain function.
Zvonimir Vrselja, co-author and associate research scientist in neuroscience, states that they did not observe any type of organized electrical activity associated with perception or awareness, so it would not be considered a living brain, but a cellular active brain.
At this point, the researchers have not yet identified any application in the clinical setting. However, they believe that their study can help medical professionals to “rescue” brain function in patients with stroke or examine the effectiveness of treatments aimed at cell recovery after an injury.
At this time, scientists do not believe that the chemical solution they used can be applied to the study of the human brain. This solution lacks important contents, such as certain blood cells and components of the immune system, which does not make it very suitable for normal living conditions.
And if one day their study is applied to human tissue research, scientists emphasize that it must be done under the highest ethical consideration.
Stephen Latham, director of Yale’s Interdisciplinary Bioethics Center, says regaining consciousness was never his goal. He adds that the team was prepared to take measures under anesthesia and reduce the temperature to stop the organized global electrical activity should it occur.
All team members agree that, if a revived global activity arises, they will stop their experiments, unless there are ethical standards and clear institutional mechanisms.
But there are many who believe that this advance could mean that the mysterious solution to revive the dead will be used in the near future. And how could it be otherwise, there is someone who links this scientific discovery with the revealing signs of the Apocalypse. What do you think?
10 robotic dogs pull truck along in new video
Image Credit: YouTube / Boston Dynamics
A small army of Boston Dynamics’ dog-like robots have been filmed hauling a truck through a parking lot.
Known as SpotMini, this four-legged contraption has become something of a celebrity in recent years thanks to videos showing it performing a wide range of tasks and balancing acts.
This latest footage shows more of the robots than ever before – ten of them to be exact – all working together to haul a large truck through the parking lot outside Boston Dynamics’ headquarters.
Each robot is 0.84 meters tall and can carry a payload of around 14kg.
What’s interesting is that these robots will actually be available for companies to purchase in the near future, meaning that they are no longer just a work-in-progress.
“It only takes 10 Spotpower (SP) to haul a truck across the Boston Dynamics parking lot,” the firm wrote in the caption for the video on YouTube.
“These Spot robots are coming off the production line now and will be available for a range of applications soon.”
Source: Evening Standard
New CRISPR Tech Could Cure Herpes
Gene hacking techniques that were recently used in human cells for the first time could someday let doctors shred up and destroy viruses like herpes or hepatitis B inside human cells, scientists say.
The new technique is called CRISPR-Cas3 — usually, when you hear about CRISPR tech, it’s the Cas9 variety — and Cornell researchers believe it could be used to cure viral diseases, according to a university-published press release.
The scientists used Cas3 to identify and shred long stretches of human DNA, according to research published in the journal Molecular Cell last week. The new gene-hacking tool makes more and broader cuts in genetic material than CRISPR-Cas9, meaning it could let scientists quickly learn what specific, long stretches of genetic information do and how they interact with certain diseases.
It also means that the gene-hacking tool could attack and shred viral DNA.
“My lab spent the past ten years figuring out how CRISPR-Cas3 works. I am thrilled that my colleagues and I finally demonstrated its genome editing activity in human cells,” said Cornell molecular biologist Ailong Ke. “Our tools can be made to target these viruses very specifically and then erase them very efficiently. In theory, it could provide a cure for these viral diseases.”
READ MORE: CRISPR-Cas3 innovation holds promise for disease cures, advancing science [Cornell Chronicle]
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