Day: July 13, 2019

A ‘spooky’ effect of physics that Einstein couldn’t believe has been photographed for the first time

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  • Albert Einstein‘s work in part led to the prediction of quantum entanglement: the idea that two particles can remain connected across vast distances of space and time.
  • Einstein found the idea absurd and “spooky,” but it has since been proven with countless quantum physics experiments.
  • No had ever photographed entangled photons (pieces of light), though, until one research team recently did so with a high-tech laser experiment.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The black-and-white photo above isn’t much to look at. However, the ghostly, eye-like shapes illustrate a strange phenomenon that rattled Albert Einstein so much that he died disbelieving it could exist.

The picture represents the first-ever photograph of quantum entanglement, or the “spooky” pairing of particles.

“The image we’ve managed to capture is an elegant demonstration of a fundamental property of nature, seen for the very first time in the form of an image,” Paul-Antoine Moreau, a physicist at the University of Glasgow, said in a press release.

Moreau led a team of researchers who managed to create the image, which the group published in a study on Friday in the journal Science Advances.

Quantum entanglement 101

Quantum entanglement is the now well documented idea that two tiny particles can be paired and separated, yet remain intimately and instantly connected across vast distances.

By the laws of physics, two particles can get entangled with a binary, yes-or-no-like property or state, such as spin or phase polarization. But that state remains fuzzy — or in “superposition” — until one particle is measured. Then at the exact moment of observation, even if the particles are separated by light-years of space, the other particle takes on the opposite state of its twin.

To understand this concept, imagine each entangled particle were a box containing a cat. The cat inside would be both alive and dead at the same time — that is, until someone opened one of the boxes. If the cat seen in one box was alive, then the cat in the other box would have to be dead (or vice versa).

Einstein thought this teleportation-like effect was so absurd that he described it as “spooky action at a distance.”

“Einstein couldn’t accept this,” J.C. Séamus Davis, a physicist at Cornell University who studies quantum mechanics, previously told Business Insider. “He essentially went to his grave not accepting this as fact, but it’s now been shown millions of times to work.”

schrodingers cat

One of the latest studies to prove it, published in February 2017, used 600-year-old starlight to show that two particles couldn’t “cheat” at the moment of entanglement and share a state before being measured.

How and why small particles can get entangled makes no sense in the context of our everyday lives. At tiny scales, the universe appears to play by different rules, many of which are paradoxical and defy reason. In some quantum-mechanical scenarios, for instance, an effect doesn’t always follow a cause; the effect can, in fact, happen before its cause occurs.

No one should be blamed for being confused by quantum mechanics, Davis said, since “we didn’t evolve to understand” the theory and its counterintuitive ramifications.

“But the math, the predictions starting in the 1920s, have all turned out to be correct,” he said. “It’s the most successful scientific theory in the human race.”

In all those decades, however, no one has ever captured an image of entangled particles. So that is what Moreau and his colleagues set out to do.

How entanglement was photographed for the first time

quantum entanglement image picture setup lasers pa moreau et al science advances

Particles of light called photons can be entangled by a number of quantum properties. With their experiment, though, the researchers chose a property called phase. The photons came out of an ultraviolet laser beam, then passed through a special crystal known to entangle the phase of some photons.

Next, their experiment split the beam into two equal “arms” with a beam splitter, or half-mirrored glass. At this point, some of the photons that the crystal had entangled parted ways.

One arm of photons passed through a filter to limit the particles to one of four phases (a phase filter effectively “measures” that property of a photon, so it’d instantly cause its partner to flip). Then the photons went into a very sensitive camera that’s able to detect individual photons. The other arm led to a high-speed trigger device for the camera.

The camera sensor recorded information only when two entangled photons — each from a separate arm — arrived at their respective detectors at same time and with opposite phases.  Over time, the researchers built up a patterned image of the entangled photons striking the camera.

Entangled photons that passed through the phase filter were expected to form four eye-like patterns, and that’s exactly what the image showed.

The experiment piles on more proof that what spooked Einstein is real, but also that entangled particles might be used in future imaging applications in science, Moreau said.

SEE ALSO: China has pulled off a ‘profound’ feat of teleportation that may help it ‘dominate the way the world works’

DON’T MISS: The US military released a study on warp drives and faster-than-light travel. Here’s what a theoretical physicist thinks of it.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Physicists came up with a simple way you can outperform supercomputers at quantum physics

How Microsoft became a secret startup ingredient, and what the trend says about the tech world

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Would you have guessed that nearly 25 percent of the Seattle region’s top tech startups are led by CEOs with backgrounds at Microsoft?

That was the result of our analysis of the GeekWire 200, our index of the top privately held tech companies in the Pacific Northwest.

As we discuss on this episode of the GeekWire Podcast, the trend is surprising and interesting for a few different reasons.

  • Historically, Microsoft’s ability to empower executives and managers to build big new businesses internally created an entrepreneurial mindset that led many of those same people to launch and lead their own independent businesses when they left the company.
  • The trend illustrates the long-term impact that large tech companies can have on a startup community, potentially overcoming the short-term drawbacks from those big companies hiring talented engineers and executives in competition with startups.
  • Many of the current startup CEOs in this category got their experience at Microsoft in past eras at the company, and one open question is whether the company will continue to have this impact long term. Microsoft’s new culture under CEO Satya Nadella may help retain talent, and the talent does leave may not have the same entrepreneurial mindset.
  • Amazon so far has minted far fewer startup CEOs than Microsoft has, but the Seattle company is also at a different place in its evolution, and it will be interesting to see if this changes in the future.

Read our full analysis for more.

We start with some related news: fundings for the Seattle region’s startups bucked the national trend in the second quarter, rising significantly, as reflected on our new startup deal tracker. Look for more on this in an upcoming post.

Also on the show: Nintendo unveils a new iteration of its Switch game console; former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer pulls off what might be his greatest deal ever; and an Amazon employee shows the potential of AI with a high-tech cat door.

Plus, the debut of our new theme song, by composer Daniel L.K. Caldwell.

Listen above or subscribe in your favorite podcast app. 

In the woods outside Seattle, technology fuses with art in hackathon-style ‘Electric Sky’ gathering

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Tech-infused art projects from previous Electric Sky events, an annual gathering in Skykomish, Wash. (Electric Sky Photos)

Technologists and artists and anyone else who can appreciate the intersections where creativity is fostered are invited to head to the woods northeast of Seattle later this month for the fifth annual Electric Sky Art and Tech Weekend Retreat.

In a Skykomish, Wash., ballpark serving as a makeshift campground and hackathon setting, participants will work together to create tech-infused art relying on the natural environment, sound, light, video and more.

This year’s event, which runs July 25-28, is centered around a theme called “Bio Zoom,” and makers are encouraged to “explore how changing perspectives — whether through a microscope or a telescope — expose the beautiful, abstract, often fractal, repeating patterns of the universe.”

Shelly Farnham. (LinkedIn Photo)

Shelly Farnham, a senior UX researcher at Google who previously worked at Microsoft Research, is an artist and lead organizer of Electric Sky, a nonprofit, volunteer-led effort.

“A lot of the most innovative work that I see is happening at the intersection of art and technology,” said Farnham, who co-authored a paper that supports that claim, and who holds a Ph.D in social psychology from the University of Washington.

Farnham has learned some lessons through previous years of inviting people out to the small mountain town, including the fact that if you immerse people in a hackathon-style environment, they develop relationships and learn how to work together and collaborate. But the mix leans more heavily toward techies from both big companies and startups than it does toward artists.

“It’s actually been really easy to get the technologists to go because they’re really eager and excited to interface with artists,” Farnham said. “I would say it’s a bit of more of a challenge on the other end. There’s a difference in how [artists] approach or think about their work. They have a more proprietary feeling toward the production of their work.”

Technologists and artists are encouraged to collaborate and innovate in a hackathon-style setting at Electric Sky. (Electric Sky Photo)

Electric Sky, which culminates with a Saturday art show that is open to all, is designed to be a playful environment where people can learn and make mistakes. It’s also an incubator for projects that go on to be displayed in Seattle, including at the annual Bumbershoot Music & Arts Festival.

Projects this year include a giant, walk-through kaleidoscope and a “river table” constructed by a woodworker using a CNC machine that relies on geographical survey data tied to the rise and fall of the Skykomish River.

“Northwest people are definitely more engaged with the environment than I would say the average tech community is, both at the art and technology end of the spectrum,” Farnham said. “Being able to in some way take the technology back out into the environment has actually been a pretty compelling experience for people.”

The natural environment is an integral part of the Electric Sky experience. (Electric Sky Photo)

The potential is also there for what’s created or at least considered at Electric Sky to make it back to the tech companies where some of the people work. Farnham is a big believer in the creative process, how people approach it and what it means for innovation.

“Both art and technology is really about coming up with something new and if you’re doing it effectively you’re innovating,” she said. “One of the predictors of people being successfully creative is their willingness to be exposed to new ideas, the sort of reshuffling of old ideas, exposing yourself to different fields and seeing how they frame problems. Can you adapt some of those ideas into your field?”

Learn more about how to get involved with Electric Sky and the weekend’s calendar of events here.

Hurricane Barry is hitting Louisiana as the first hurricane of 2019. Here’s why storms are getting stronger, slower, and wetter.

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Hurricane Barry is moving over the coast of Louisiana — the first hurricane of 2019 and only the third time in the last 168 years that such a storm has hit the Gulf region in July. 

Barry threatens to dump up to 20 inches of rain along coastline, with 25 inches expected in some places.

Read More: A tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico is approaching Louisiana. It will put New Orleans’ river levees to the test.

Scientists can’t definitely say whether Barry was directly caused by climate change, but they agree that warming overall makes storms and hurricanes more devastating than they would otherwise be.

That’s because higher water temperatures lead to sea-level rise, which increases the risk of flooding during high tides and in the event of storms surges. Warmer air also holds more atmospheric water vapor, which enables tropical storms to strengthen and unleash more precipitation.

Here’s what to know about why storms are getting so much stronger, wetter, and slower.

How a hurricane forms

Hurricanes are vast, low-pressure tropical cyclones with wind speeds over 74 mph.

In the Atlantic Ocean, the hurricane season generally runs from June through November, with storm activity peaking around September 10. The storms form over warm ocean water near the equator, when sea surface temperature is at least 80 degrees, according to tthe National Hurricane Center.

As warm moisture rises, it releases energy, forming thunderstorms. As more thunderstorms are created, the winds spiral upward and outward, creating a vortex. Clouds then form in the upper atmosphere as the warm air condenses.

how hurricane forms infographic

As the winds churn, an area of low pressure forms over the the ocean’s surface. At this point, hurricanes need low wind shear — or a lack of prevailing wind — to form the cyclonic shape associated with a hurricane.

Once the wind speed hits 74 mph, the storm is considered a Category 1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale. Hurricane Barry is  now a Category 1 storm.

saffir simpson hurricane scale

Hurricanes are moving more slowly and dropping more rain

Hurricanes use warm water as fuel, so once a hurricane moves over colder water or dry land, it usually weakens and dissipates.

However, because climate change is causing ocean and air temperatures to climb — last year was the hottest on record for the planet’s oceans —  hurricanes are getting wetter and more sluggish. Over the past 70 years or so, the speed of hurricanes and tropical storms has slowed about 10% on average, according to a 2018 study.

But over land in the North Atlantic and Western North Pacific specifically, storms are moving 20% to 30% more slowly, the study showed.

hurricane harvey

A slower pace of movement gives a storm more time to lash an area with powerful winds and dump rain, which can exacerbate flood problems. So its effects can wind up feeling more intense.

Hurricane Harvey is a prime example of this: After it made landfall, Harvey weakened to a tropical storm, then stalled for days. That allowed the storm to dump unprecedented amounts of rain on the Houston area — scientist Tom Di Liberto described it as the “storm that refused to leave.”

Climate scientist Michael Mann previously wrote on Facebook that Hurricane Harvey — which flooded Houston, killed more than 100 people, and caused $125 billion in damages — “was almost certainly more intense than it would have been in the absence of human-caused warming, which means stronger winds, more wind damage, and a larger storm surge.”

Hurricane Barry, similarly, could dump up to 25 inches of rain onto some parts of Lousiana this weekend.

St. Bernard Parish Sheriff's Office inmate workers move free sandbags for residents in Chalmette, La., Thursday, July 11, 2019 ahead of ahead of Tropical Storm Barry from the Gulf of Mexico. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)

To make matters worse, a warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture, so a 10% slowdown in a storm’s pace could double the amount of rainfall and flooding that an area experiences. The peak rain rates of storms have increased by 30% over the past 60 years —  that means up to 4 inches of water can fall in an hour.

“Precipitation responds to global warming by increasing,” Angeline Pendergrass, a project scientist at University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, said last year.

Storms are also getting stronger

a hurricane

As ocean temperatures continue to increase, we’re also likely to see more severe hurricanes because a storm’s wind speed is influenced by the temperature of the water below. A 1-degree Fahrenheit rise in ocean temperature can increase a storm’s wind speed by 15 to 20 miles per hour, according to Yale Climate Connections.

“With warmer oceans caused by global warming, we can expect the strongest storms to get stronger,” James Elzner, an atmospheric scientist at Florida State University, told Yale.

That can also mean that storms are able to intensify and develop into powerful hurricanes in a shorter time span.

Hurricane Florence

Generally, a strong storm brings a storm surge: an abnormal rise of water above the predicted tide level. This wall of water can flood coastal communities — if a storm’s winds are blowing directly toward the shore and the tide is high, storm surges can force water levels to rise as rapidly as a few feet per minute.

So higher sea levels, of course, mean more destructive storm surges during a hurricane. Even if we were to cut emissions dramatically starting today, some sea-level rise is inevitable, since the planet’s oceans absorb 93% of the extra heat that greenhouse gases trap in the atmosphere. Water (like most things) expands when it’s heated, so even small changes in temperature results in a larger water volume.

Kevin Loria contributed to an earlier version of this story.

SEE ALSO: How hurricanes form

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NOW WATCH: Most hurricanes that hit the US come from the same exact spot in the world

I never have to charge this wireless mouse — it’s my favorite computer accessory ever

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  • Logitech has perfected the computer mouse with the G903 Lightspeed wireless mouse.
  • It’s beautiful, fast, and highly customizable.
  • Its best feature happens when you pair it with Logitech’s G Play wireless charging mat: You’ll never have to recharge the mouse, ever.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Logitech’s G903 Lightspeed wireless mouse is the best computer mouse I’ve ever used. I can’t recommend it enough.

The G903 Lightspeed has everything you want in a computer mouse. It’s ergonomic and feels good in your hand. It’s fast. It’s highly customizable. And most importantly, I never have to worry about battery life.

Since the G903 Lightspeed mouse is compatible with Logitech’s G Power Play wireless charging mats, I’ve never had to recharge my computer mouse in the months that I’ve been using it.

Here’s why I love the Logitech G903 mouse so much.

SEE ALSO: Beats’ $250 wireless earbuds are the perfect headphones for the summer

First of all, the G903 Lightspeed mouse is a thing of beauty. It’s sleek, comfortable, and extremely lightweight. It comes in at just 110 grams.

If the mouse feels too light for you, Logitech includes an optional 10-gram weight that you can slip into the bottom of the device in case you want it to feel more hefty.

The G903 Lightspeed is highly customizable: It can be set up as a left- or right-handed mouse, thanks to removable buttons and panels.

You can also change the lighting of the mouse’s logo, with the ability to choose one of 16.8 million colors — or have the mouse cycle through all of them with animations and effects.

The G903 Lightspeed has five DPI levels, which you can tweak on the fly. DPI, or dots per inch, is a measure of how sensitive a mouse is when you’re moving it across a surface. You can change out each of your five DPI settings so your mouse can feel as zippy or slow as you want it to be.

Latency, the lag between your movements and the action on screen, is always a concern when you’re talking about wireless anything, especially computer mice, but Logitech’s Lightspeed technology features just 1 millisecond of latency. It feels instantaneous.

The G903 Lightspeed has a dual-mode scroll wheel: You can be precise with click-to-click scrolling, or press the button below the wheel to allow the wheel to spin freely, so you can scroll as fast as you want.

The G903 Lightspeed supports up to 11 programmable buttons.

The mouse also has on-board memory, so you can adjust and save your various settings on your computer and the mouse will implement those changes quickly and easily.

But my favorite feature of the G903 Lightspeed is that I’ve never once had to worry about battery life.

By itself, the mouse can support about 32 hours of continuous use on a single charge. But the magic happens when you pair the G903 Lightspeed with Logitech’s wireless charging mat, the G Power Play.

By keeping Logitech’s G Power Play connected to power, the mouse keeps its charge wirelessly by staying on top of the mat. You’ll never have to worry about charging your wireless mouse ever again.

I personally love the build and feel of the G903 Lightspeed, even compared to other ergonomic mice like Logitech’s other critically-acclaimed mouse, the MX Vertical. But the G903 became invaluable to me after the addition of the G Power Play wireless mat.

Never having to recharge a wireless device is such a quality-of-life improvement, I don’t think I could ever go back to wires, or needing to recharge my mouse, ever again.

Whenever anyone asks me about computer equipment, I always tell them the same thing: “No matter which computer you choose, if you need a mouse, invest in the G903 Lightspeed and the G Power Play mat.”

This entire system isn’t cheap, mind you: The G903 Lightspeed mouse costs $200, and the G Power Play wireless charging mat costs $100. You can find mice for much cheaper than this. But you won’t find a mouse, or a mouse ecosystem, that’s better. With the G903 Lightspeed, Logitech has perfected the computer mouse. This is the cream of the crop.

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