So, today our physics department had our Journal Club, where one of the professors/grad students get to share a journal article or two that they found in the vast amount of physics literature available to academia. Today our resident dark matter-seeking professor gave the talk, and boy was it awesome.
The researchers whose papers he found were bouncing neutrons on glass and looking at their quantum states due solely to the potential energy caused by gravity. Quantum mechanics with gravity.
For those of you who don't understand how ridiculously awesome this is, let me put it in terms of Classical Mechanics: when a classical object is under the influence of a uniform gravitational potential (like that near Earth's surface), it follows parabolic trajectories. Imagine a ball bouncing on a table; it forms a series of parabolic bounces, each one smaller than the last due to friction and lost energy due to sound and such. This is essentially what this group did, but with neutrons and glass.
However, because neutrons are not classical particles and instead behave quantum mechanically, they don't bounce in parabolic trajectories. Instead, they abide by the laws of quantum mechanics, which means that there are only certain heights above the table at which they are likely to be found and certain heights that they cannot be found. So, a neutron in the ground (lowest) state of this system is most likely to be found at about 10 microns (thousandths of a millimeter) above the glass.
Also, when this was published back in 2005, it was the first time quantized energy levels due to Earth's gravitational potential alone were ever observed experimentally; the theory has been known for a while, but this is the first time anyone has in any way verified it.
Now, this group is attempting to test the properties of the force of gravity using this apparatus and their neutrons. HOW AWESOME IS THAT?!
This blog entry brought to you by SCIENCE!
Lederhosen Guy is adorable. Just look at that smile; you know he's enjoying life so much more because of the sheer joy wearing lederhosen brings. He also loves pretzels (new mold!). Feel for the pretzel, and it will guide you to a world of happiness. A world of lederhosen.
Also, while at the LEGO Store, I noticed some new sets. Remember the recent beach set that contained the Hula Girl, Surfer, and Surfer Girl from the Series Minifigures? Well, two new similar sets are now in the LEGO store, and I snapped a quick pic of them.
Click for larger image.
I sent this into news, so maybe you'll see an article about it.
UPDATE: Apparently, LEGO has these on its Shop@Home site. They are the Halloween Accessory Set and the Rock Band Minifigure Accessory Set.
ALSO ZOMBIE MINIFIG AAAHHH!!!
Also, I have a talk to give on Friday on my research I did over the summer. This wouldn't be so much of an issue if I knew which part of the research to discuss, as I worked with two undergrads, and we have to split the topics of our research between us. However, one of the students worked in another lab over the summer as well, so she's probably not going to present on what the three of us did at all. Now the talk has to be divided in half.
Also, did I mention the talk was Friday? ._.
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